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    Kasabian

    Kasabian 6 ( 2004 )
    Club Foot / Processed Beats / Reason Is Treason / ID / LSF / Running Battle / Test Transmission / Cutt Off / Butcher Blues / U Boat

    'Butcher Blues' sounds like The Verve circa 1995. 'Club Foot' sounds like Happy Mondays mixed by Chemical Brothers. 'Processed Beats' sounds like an Ian Brown solo tune and 'Reason Is Treason' sounds like a dot-to-dot of early 90s Manchester indie bands. It's an album designed for the modern market place wherby listeners want to hear something familiar. It's designed so the first three songs are all released as singles, thus catering for those with short attention spans. Kasabian present us with a mix of standard rock beat, plus groovy bass lines, plus indistinct funky guitar and a dollop of electronics mixed in. It's this electronic aspect i'm slightly suspicious of, because it doesn't seem to be naturally integrated within the tunes. It appears to me to be the sound of a studio-bod messing around with the tunes after the event. Still, no matter. We move on through the singles, past the irritating and clumsily titled 'Club Foot' to the better and more anthemic 'Processed Beats'. The singer, pretending to be Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays, spouts off a stream of hip inbetween the catchy and repeated too often chorus. 'Reason Is Treason' is the best of the three, it's not too obvious what the influences are here, although it does just sound like a standard indie tune in terms of structure and style. 'ID' is heavily processed electronically, a slower tune, which was needed after the three hits. 'LSF' is a melodic, mid-tempo number that sounds for all the world like it was produced in 1994. It's that fine line between nostalgic tribute and the source of your influence still being new enough. In which case, all you end up sounding like is a rip-off and/or dated. Kasabian attempt to get round this with the modern electronics sprinkled merrily all over the album.

    We reach 'Cutt Off', the little guitar figure seems designed to irritate! I can't specify what's wrong with it, it's just..... ARGH! 'Butcher Blues', the one with the obvious early-verve type bass line it's a nice relief after all the straining and apparent energy of the vast majority of the album thus far. I pick out 'Butcher Blues' as my fave Kasabian moment. The closing 'U Boat' builds upon this. Just as the album is getting interesting, it finishes! 'U Boat' has a vocal spinning off in the distance, chill-out style. This way of trying to make the album complete, or akin to a night out in the clubs wherby eventually you 'come-down' isn't a new thing. What's interesting is that when Kasabian aren't trying as hard to impress, they come across far better than they do earlier in the album with all the 'MADchester' revisited by Fatboy Slim and Prodigy nonsense of the likes of 'Club Foot'. So, 'Kasabian' do potentially have a future, albeit one that should lead more in the direction of 'Butcher Blues' and 'U Boat' than in the direction of 'Processed Beats' and 'Reason Is Treason'. Just my opinion of course, but then, I can't offer anybody elses, can I? Of course, neither should you. Don't believe the hype unless for you, it happens to be true. But think about it first, investigate the source. Make up your own mind!

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    Readers Comments

    David Atkinson d.atkinson@maxfordham.com
    I disagree a little with Adrian, I think he's sort of right, but very harsh. It's all very affected, postured, but a lot of it, most of it, works. I thought this was one of the best albums of the year (2004). Not necessarily truly original in genre or style, but quite original in execution. Even if looks backwards ten years, it's quite original today (no more skinny ties and punky franz riffs please!). Lots of unusual swooping 'Ooohs' and 'Aaahs', sparse tribal beats, and I think some of the studio electronics add feel and depth. It doesn't sound anything like the Happy Mondays (they were a disco band, really, this is darker and more atmospheric); it just ihabits the same universe. They can write the odd tune too - 'Butcher Blues' is indeed a fine tune (you can pretty much forget most of the lyrics here) - I also like 'Test Transmission' 'I.D.' and 'L.S.F' I think it is all best listened to as a whole - the hidden reprise at the end is particurlarly effective. A fine rock a! lbum, 8 and a 1/2.


    Empire 5 ( 2006 )
    Empire / Shoot The Runner / Last Trip (In Flight) / Me Plus One / Sun Rise Light Flies / Aponea / By My Side / Stuntman / Seek & Destroy / British Legion / The Doberman

    It's amazing, isn't it? All reviewers, whether they claim objectivity or subjectivity or claim neither but it's blatantly clear, would like you at least to 'believe' their reviews. To trust their reviews. Why else write them unless you're a comedian or an idiot? NME gave 'Empire' 9/10 in a review riddled with factual errors. Apparently, Depeche Mode invented the dance-rock crossover. A synth pop band until around 1987. I'm sure New Order might have something to say about that statement. A review clearly mentioning Liam Gallagher several times, as if Liam Gallagher influences are somehow deserving a stamp of approval from all serious critics. NME also cleverly say Kasabian were never very good to begin with, but now they've 'willed themselves to brilliance'. Kind of an admission they got it wrong initially by saying the band were good, but now.... well now they actually deserve the praise. Boy cried wolf, anyone? Nobody believes the NME anymore, which is a shame. It was once a worthy, credible and actually believable music newspaper. The 9/10 NME credit 'Empire' with is in direct contrast with the juvenile swearing and general incomprehension of 'Playlouder', giving the album zero out of five. 'Playlouder' seem to actually detest the bands very existence, a strange thing when clearly there are far worse bands out there, many of whose mediocre new offerings at least get fair whack on playlouder.com. Besides these extremes, you have a wealth of points of view somewhere inbetween, which is more likely an accurate state of affairs. I point everybody towards the not infallible, but usually representative metacritic.com. Kasabian have hardly learnt much from the murmurings of distent their generally well-received debut attracted. They still see fit to place the first two singles as tracks one and two. We all know pop fans generally have short attention spans and don't actually listen to albums properly anymore, but even so. Great albums still do work as just that, a collection of songs from beginning to end that enthrall and thrill. Kasabian still peddle their Happy Mondays vibe, the dance-rock elements come across far clumsier than Primal Scream. Primal Scream were never a natural fit for a true dance-rock crossover either. The loud distortion and base glam inspired beat of the title track hardly convinces, although the melody is catchy enough, in a being bludgeoned by a pre-historic hammer kind of way. 'Shoot The Runner' is better, although the fact nobody in the band can either sing or sound vaguely interesting still annoys more discerning listeners. Oh, remember 'Ride A White Horse' by Goldfrapp? Kasabian clearly do.

    So the first half of this album goes, every song right upto track five a potential single. That's admirable in a way and you can forgive people for praising the band to the hilt, because so many other bands can't even present half a good album. 'Sun Rise Light Flies' is a very good sound, actually. Well, vocals apart, clearly. Side two continues with the Goldfrapp influences. Why Goldfrapp? Why aren't I mentioning Primal Scream, Oasis, Happy Mondays, T Rex, The Glitter Band, Slade? Well, i'm not convinced Kasabian have taken directly from any of those glam-bands. The glam-beat of Kasabian is so uninventive, that I can only imagine these influences are part of attempting to capture the zeitgeist merely by using the same borrowed sounds as everybody else. A kind of 3rd hand, let alone 2nd hand, set of influences. No audible attempts made to turn these influences into more than the sum of their parts and unlike Primal Scream at least, Kasabian lack any decently inventive or impressive musicians. Their thing is to turn on the laser lights, be 'let's pretend i'm a rock star', turn up the instruments particularly the rhythm section. Let's dance. Party music for people who rarely party. Dance music for rock guitarists. The Stone Roses when they created the legendary 'Fools Gold' borrowed from the source. From Sly, from James Brown. Ian Brown was the true force behind The Stone Roses road to creating 'Fools Gold'. Kasabian clearly lack any visionary force, they desire nothing higher than being the next Oasis. Even Oasis had a higher desire than being the next Stone Roses, they wanted to be the next Beatles. Kasabian are crap, let's face it. 'Seek And Destroy'? 'British Legion'?? 'British Legion'?? Well, the fabled land of albion much discussed directly or in-directly in British folk-song has been inserted into the indie-rock landscape courtesy of Pete Doherty and The Libertines. Kasabians relentless band-wagon jumping results in a weary, dreary sounding song clearly paying attention to Pete Doherty in particular but lacking any new insights. Rather a waste of time. 'Doberman'? Well, another decent enough track, actually. Another sign that if only Kasabian actually went 'out-there' at all with their music and tried to find their own place, that they could create something genuinely amazing. Sadly it's only a hint of bands potential. Four decent-enough tracks amid a wealth of filler isn't really enough to justify the attention Kasabian are receiving.

    I know! Perhaps Johanna Newsome needs to play live with not only a forty piece orchestra, but get this!! Clowns, jugglers, a trapese artist. Strobe lights. A James Brown medley to announce her entrance and a soul bands rhythm section on-stage. Not audible of course, but you know, just to prove how apparently cool she is. She can then hire Pink Floyds stage manager, Kate Bush to lead the dancers. She can give out free drinks ( Jack Daniels, naturally ) back-stage to all the waiting journalists and radio people. The music would be the same, but she might actually sell something then. In summary? Kasabian know how to play the game.

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    West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum( 2009 )
    Underdog / Where Did All the Love Go? / Swarfiga / Fast Fuse / Take Aim / Thick as Thieves / West Ryder Silver Bullet / Vlad the Impaler / Ladies and Gentlemen, Roll the Dice / Secret Alphabets / Fire / Happiness

    They've even put a bit of effort into the album title this time around. Well, following the departure of co-writer Chris Karloff, this was always going to be make or break for Kasabian. Serge Pizzorno therefore hooked up with Gorillaz man Dan The Automator and the result is easily the most inventive and enjoyable Kasabian album so far. Kasabian from Leicester, always the butt of the London centric media's jokes. Kasabian, lumped in with Kaiser Chiefs by this writer as a prime example of landfill-indie? Well, I shall have to eat my words because they've just released one of the best albums of 2009. 'West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum' as well as being great is also satisfyingly varied. We've an instrumental, a couple of slower tunes, some foot stompers and also, plenty of potential singles. So ok, none of the lyrics are going to amaze you with their intellectual wordplay, yet that's to rather miss the point of this record. This is a good-time party record with clever arrangements, good music and some of the best production values you'll hear in 2009.

    The opening track sounds huge, massive drums boom out and Kasabian sound like they did before only better. Nothing too unexpected so far. A surprise arrives pretty soon though with 'Where Did All The Love Go?' - it's dance, it's soul, it's got vinyl type crackles in the background. In short, it's an absolute winner, one of those songs that goes round and round in circles - in a good way. 'Fast Fuse' has a riff worthy of Mark E Smith and The Fall and who ever thought Kasabian could sound not only as exciting as this yet so tight and to the point? 'Ladies And Gentlemen' contains 'Twin Peaks' atmosphere, 'Fire' has hit written all over it and the closing 'Happiness' is an imagined Rolling Stones (circa 1970) ballad. All in all, this 3rd Kasabian LP is great stuff from start to finish and if they keep up this kind of form, they could soon find themselves sitting pretty as one of the finest British bands around.

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    this page last updated 28/06/09


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