John Kastner new album sits at the head of a long rock story involving the vocalist/guitarist. Influenced by bands like The Ramones and Iggy Pop Kastner started punk group the Asexuals in Montreal when he was just sixteen. After his departure from that band he formed the band for which he is most familiar, The Doughboys, whose rock/punk/pop made him famous and kept him busy from the late 80s until the late 90s. Next up came the pop-punk band All Systems Go! with whom he released several albums and also made the move into taking on more of the business duties of making and releasing records, forming Cobraside distribution.
It’s as catchy as it needs to be and provides some decent hooks and melodies, it’s a standard rock record and offers nothing less than it needs to, unfortunately for those looking though, there’s not much more either.
In conjunction with Cobraside, the Boss Tunage recording company now offers us Kastner’s latest work, the solo album Have You Seen Lucky?. Though the work is written, performed (vocals and electric/acoustic guitars) by Kastner himself, it also contains some other great talent, drawing on the reputation and acquantainces the artist has ammassed these last couple of decades. Appearances on the album are made by a diverse range of people: Alex Lifeson (Rush), Away (Michael Langevin – Voivod), Lee Ving (Fear), Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo) and Jonathon Cummins (Bionic) among others. The photo from the album’s front cover was also taken by friend and former collaborator Evan Dando, who Kastner supported on a tour at the start of the year.
Have You Seen Lucky? is described by the artist as “a cross between everything I’ve done over the past twenty years” and sure enough comes across as a familiar pop/punk/indie/rock hybrid, comparable to Dando’s The Lemonheads and bands like the Foo Fighters. It’s an album which is very easy to listen to, not challenging too much but with a strong focus on a melodic songwriting underpinned by a rock feel. The album is quite middle-of-the-road, perhaps testament to Kastner’s older years, but he’s not really that old and the album picks up speed and rocks a little harder intermittently, stopping the album from easily paling away into college rock obscurity. Truth be told Have You Seen Lucky? has not got that much to make it stand out though — it’s straightforward and often formulaic, but that probably wont harm its progress: Kastner has an established fan base and there’s a huge market for the type of material he’s offering. It’s as catchy as it needs to be and provides some decent hooks and melodies, it’s a standard rock record and offers nothing less than it needs to, unfortunately for those looking though, there’s not much more either.