Freedom Kerl is the guitar player for Tangeena Barren in Philadelphia, PA. He records music in his home recording studio, Kabaret Kerl, and compares his sound to William Shatner and Moby (with hair). “Normal Family” is apparently his first punk song. Freedom Kerl’s newfound legacy in the lineage of punk is an emblem of autonomy and integrity.
As opposed to legions of punk sellouts, hustlers and baby-dick rock stars. His first time tongue-in-cheek take on punk shows that Kerl’s ability to “walk the walk” will make him an intriguing punk species very much in spite of himself. If one were to erect a Mount Rushmore of punk stars freshly discovered today, Freedom Kerl would surely be one of the chiseled faces not named Rotten or Ramone.
Freedom Kerl’s anthemic noir-core stands in direct opposition to many of his punk peers, who favor the hard/loud/fast ethos over group dynamics and musical proficiency. Kerl, by contrast, comes on like The Clash with an attitude problem and an alternative fetish.
Musically tight, sonically adventurous, and curiously artsy, Freedom Kerl obviously has no interest in making a career out of punk, but rather by challenging it’s rigid angst-driven parameters. Something he does with every other song and genre he tackles head on. Listen to his cover versions of songs like “Wonderwall” (The Oasis), “Rich Girl” (Hall & Oates) or “Let Her Cry” ( Hootie & The Blowfish).
Freedom Kerl is essentially a deconstructer of songs. He takes his chosen tracks to their absolute core state, totally denuded of the original rhythm and melody. Kerl then proceeds to rebuild each element of the song, affronting verse by verse and chorus by chorus, until he transports the track to a recognizable level.
But he stops at recognizable, and way before he becomes a clone of the original. That’s both his strength and weakness, depending what your point of view about covers songs are. Quite frankly, if I wanted to hear the same song, I’d grab the original rather than a duplicate cover.
On the other hand it’s quite fascinating to hear how Freedom Kerl acoustically chops and screws original songs his way. Twisting a classic pop song the way Kerl does, may be deemed a creative provocation, but taking an irreverent look at an already irreverent genre like punk rock on “Normal Family”, is absolute genius!