Paul Kelly, musician “It seems to me a crying shame that two of the most extraordinary Australian records released in recent years have gone largely unheralded in this country. King Curly blend joy, melancholy and wonder in songs of haunting beauty. They slipped in and out of my town two weeks ago like ghosts and those of us who were at the visitation are still walking around as if in a spell. Their name should be shouted from the roof-tops, their records playing in the cafes, their songs on the radio.”
THE AGE /Melbourne June 2008 (Michael Dwyer) It wouldn't be right if King Curly was the household name he deserves to be. Blue Mountains minstrel is a true Pop outsider. His harmonious medicine-show band and heartbreaking orchestrations frame a profound, self-deprecating comedy about transcendence and the people who dream of it. This retrospective is a rich world of intrigue populated by daydreamers, from the intimate I Wish I Was A Girl and Familyman, to filmic King Curly and Curly & Sue.
Harry Angus, The Cat Empire "It's nice to hear a man with an acoustic guitar writing songs which are so strikingly original, musically and lyrically, that they can't really be compared to anything. A dog in the night... an underground kingdom... a magical man who liberates people from their grey office worlds… King Curly is a modern-day medicine man."
Zolton Zavos, Revolver Magazine“Steve Appel strikes as the very antithesis of the modern angst rock movement. This is music with brains – showcasing the rather obscene talents of a local songwriter who is merely a seedy reputation and whiskey-a-day removed from a young Tom Waits."
Michael Dwyer, The Age “King Curly is more like a quiet stranger from the old country. He slips in unannounced: no flashbulbs at the airport, just a letter of introduction in his pocket to vouch for his character - bearing the handwritten scrawl of a Mr. Paul Kelly…There’s a musical otherness that makes King Curly such a hypnotic live experience. And there’s a range that goes far beyond the usual parameters of folk roots or jazz acts"...
**** Richard McComb Birmingham Post, UK "King Curly is a gem from down under! … the great thing about Appel's vocal delivery is the fact that he sounds unashamedly Aussie. Perhaps the vogue for white artists singing in mock American accents has yet to reach Australia. Or perhaps Appel has got some artistic integrity. It makes the cult of the singer-songwriter seem less poncey when blokes sing like blokes."
HiFi-Plus UK - 9/10 "King Curly, fronted by rhythm guitarist and singer/songwriter Steve Appel, is a much-talked about band from down under that proves itself be the very antithesis of those familiar Antipodean macho rock stereotypes. His angst is real life and his demons are instantly recognisable.......... remarkable confessions for an Australian man to make."
**** Chris Benfield, Yorkshire Post UK“King Curly may not appear stereotypically Australian at first glance, neither delivering songs about kangaroos, the surf club or flotillas of refugees. But on closer examination the Curlys give off strong whiffs of Antipodean culture, picking up the tracks Crowded House left streaking through the sand a good few years ago.”
****1/2 Iain Shedden, The Weekend Australian "The pubs of inner-Sydney may soon see the back of songwriter Steve Appel….after this uplifting left field attack on the senses."
**** Kathy McCabe, Sunday Telegraph "Steve Appel is the thinking woman's sex symbol."
Jeff Apter, Rolling Stone"…dimly lit and expertly crafted."
Oz Music Project, Evan Alexander "‘Lullaby’ lifts Appel those few crucial rungs above his contemporaries on the ladder of validity."
UK journal GIGWISE has a lengthy feature on "Doomsday Piano" where they note "best work to date" and "one of the more imaginative releases you’re likely to hear this year."
TIME OFF remark on Steve's unpleasant habit of scaring children and then laughing about it, but they also say that "humour and haunting darkness... wonderfully characterises Doomsday Piano" and predict a lucrative future for the album. That would be nice.
Brisbane's COURIER MAIL sez of Doomsday Piano: "songs that sometimes sound as if they have beamed in from an alternative-pop dimension" . They also gave it a separate 4 star review, "achingly beautiful, moving pieces".
The Australian sez "a strange and wonderful hybrid", "deliciously warped pop sensibility" and "highly original". Also 4 stars.
The ABC sez: "A genre-defying album of intelligent, humorous songwriting and lyricism that harbours wild ingenuity alongside dedicated musicianship". Also 4 stars.
Beat Magazine sez the album flies “in the face of whatever fashion currently holds sway”.
FasterLouder sez it’s “strikingly original and undeniably unique”.
Jetstar Magazine(!) say,
"This seems to me to be a recording an entirely new mode; neither jolly juke box collection, nor warts and all confessional. Here we have an autobiographical ant farm, or a house sawn in half to reveal kooky domestic tableaux: but the whole is produced with the deliberate intent and artistry of a painting as opposed to the pretence at real emotion and humanity that a lot of recorded music presupposes as a condition of its existence, not understanding that 'real' can be as much of a mask as any other performance persona. "Doomsday Piano" is a vivid personal artifact and Steve Appel's singing is fantastic."
There’s an interview with Steve here, in which he likens Don Walker to Clint Eastwood and reveals a song he would have liked to have written solely fer the filthy lucre.