Amongst many incredibly insightful things said by Frank Zappa, one quote that always stood out in particular to me was, “Jazz is not dead; it just smells funny.” In response to the seemingly incessant complaints of baby boomers and Gen X’ers who feel that rock died at some point between Buddy Holly and Nirvana, I posit the following, “Rock is not dead; it just looks funny.”

Now this is far from a critique; it is a warm embrace. Most artists going out and shaping the landscape of rock and roll still yet to be created are not taking the stage in the quintessential garb as it was known and recognized while blooming in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Rock is much more understated in its outward appearance these days, so much so that it is easy to miss at a glance to those used to more flash, but the substance and sounds within are what continue to make rock an exciting genre for those willing to seek it out and listen. Throwing his metaphorical leather hat in the ring is one Kenton Mackay , who has finally released his debut EP, “In Good Taste”.

Hailing from the organic and heterogenous underground music scene in Austin, TX, Kenton might not have been able to envision this moment in time being possible just a few years ago. Back during COVID lockdown, the thought of giving up on music entirely was more than just a possibility – it seemed like an inevitability with how life had gone up to that point for him. But, like any artist stuck on that plateau, he returned to his roots and looked at what got him going in the first place. With a newfound sense of direction shaped from his influences, Kenton put his nose to the grindstone for the next few years, polishing and shaping until the end result most closely resembled what he had envisioned all along.

New listeners will most immediately and rightly be smitten with Kenton’s luscious baritone voice, a welcome timbre in a world of crooners, shouters, and screamers. Not to be understated or typecast though, Kenton exhibits excellent range and control, unafraid to aim higher in a shout of defiance or reach down to the murky depths for the appropriate emotional delivery. From the opening track and single “Royalty Free” we immediately hear reminders of one of Kenton’s biggest influences, Radiohead, but certainly not in a derivative way. Mixed in with the In Rainbows-esque main rhythm guitar are flavors of reverb-laced clean guitar more in line with western and garage pop textures.

Steady bass and driving drums adhere the rhythms together consummately, safely nestling the vocals in a very comfortable spot and enabling a “deep” voice to really ring true. In fact, the production throughout the record should be highlighted by itself; whoever mixed everything together managed to concoct a dense rock music that never feels claustrophobic, especially while supporting and showcasing a voice that shares physical similarities to the guitar itself. Truly enjoyable from all points of view!

I would be remiss if I failed to mention “Golden Boy”, a track that garnered quite a buzz on social media platform reddit on its subreddit dedicated to unknown artists deserving more attention known as r/listentothis. It’s a familiar-feeling track that harkens to pre-arena Black Keys with a swagger reminiscent of QOTSA, just to explode about halfway through into a fervor elevating it into fuzz freakout territory. Surely, those dismissive boomers and Gen X’ers mentioned earlier should hear this if they still think rock is dead.

What more can I say? If you’ve been needing some rock in your life that isn’t just meant for car commercials, look here. You’ll get a complete package melting rock through the ages delivered by the immediate voice of a young man eager to impress and express his frustration in today’s climate and everyday struggle. What’s more rock and roll than that?


Alright, I have to ask: What’s the story behind the cover art? Who is that standing in front of the Olds and why did you pick it for your first EP?

This is just an old photo I came across. I suppose the theme of this EP is embracing where I come from and my influences (or who I’m ripping off), while also giving a taste of what’s to come in the future. The top name font is from the end credits of There Will Be Blood (My Favorite Movie) and the bottom font is from Radiohead’s In Rainbows (my favorite album).

Who all contributed to this release? If you did every instrument, what instruments do you find the toughest to record? Everything feels incredibly natural if it’s a one-man-band type of situation, and the production was handled expertly.

Thanks! I played and sang everything except the drums. Andrea Zaramella played them. I recorded everything except the drums in my home studio (Red Blue Green Recorders) and brought them to Erik Wofford of Cacophony Recorders to record the drums, Mix, Reamp, and Master everything. I guess Vocals are the toughest. I get in my own head and overthink it sometimes.

You mentioned a “crazy turn of events” on one of your YouTube videos that led you into the direction you’ve been seemingly following ever since when it comes to writing your own music. Would you be willing to share what happened? It’s totally fine if not; just curious!

Eh, it’s kind of a long story. After my 3rd record comes out I’m going to write an autobiography titled “The Good Kind Of Mental Illness” that will put it into perspective.

Alternatively or continuing, how has your sense of musical direction changed since creating your first EP? Do you plan on making more EPs or a full length, and is there a future with touring in mind?

The biggest thing that changed after this EP is that I got motivated to practice the drums and record them myself in the future. I realized that it’s not possible for anyone to give more of a shit about the recording than me, and no one can feel and translate what the songs need better than myself. But I have a pretty good idea of the sounds and songs that are gonna be on the first 3 records. Gonna do another short EP and start touring, then make the first record.