Tag Archives: Kings of Leon

Title: A busy day in the Videosphere, or The Right and Wrong Way to use guitars.

22 Sep

It’s one of those days where i discover a few new songs., which is sadly an occurrence that doesn’t happen often enough these days. I’m trying to come to terms with the new Kings of Leon single “Walls” and whatever the hell soft-rock middle-aged receding hairline one chord homeless man’s Beautiful War falling asleep waiting for something to happen that never does they are trying  to pull, and balancing that against the sheer clarity and honesty of Jack White’s emotional performance on Fallon last night:

 

And if that ain’t enough, Dawes is getting funky wit it (jury still out on whether they can survive in this newfound realm) :

 

And a friend just put the name of a band to a song that’s been prowling around my brain like a caged tiger on coca cola for weeks. Don’t you love when that happens? Gawd i miss guitars. Holy F has this got teenage urgency!

 

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Glen Hansard

14 Sep

The (Man) in the Band:  Glen Hansard

What’s the story? When I go mining into Van Morrison’s expansive catalog, I almost always unearth some new gem. That will happen when you are listening to a mystic Irish shaman with more than 30 albums to his credit – its easy to get overwhelmed by the depth of the canon. And so I have a fellow Irishman to thank for my latest Van discovery of “Hungry For Your Love” – one Glen Hansard, he of Swell Season and Oscar winning fame. Certainly not Unsung by the Irish, but still relatively unknown on these shores. He is a disciple of Morrison, and he has followed the teachings of the master well (check out this awesome story of the time they once met), but on his new album (potential awesomeness alert) “Didn’t He Ramble”, Hansard expands the ritual to channel celtic, folk and creole with a voice that sounds like a less wounded and yet more piercing sibling of Caleb Followill. The lead single ‘Winning Streak’ could have be written in 1972 by Dylan, Morrison and The Band – it is that good. 

Sounds Like:  Sipping a warm cup of Earl Grey while looking through the window at the rain hitting the water. 

The gateway songs: 

“Winning Streak”

“Low Rising”

Other songs:   

“Her Mercy”

 

The rest of “Didn’t He Ramble” – comes out on September 18th. Listen here now. 

 If you liked this, check out these bands/songs:

Van Morrison  (obviously) “Old Woodstock”


Kings of Leon “Beautiful War”

 

 

Paolo Nutini “Tricks of the Trade” 

 

 

 

Coffee Cup Reading: Return of the Conquerors of the World

9 Sep

And now for the least Unsung post of all time!

Some words about the biggest rock bands in the world: being the biggest rock band in the world used to be a badge of honour, because being the biggest rock band in the world simply meant that you were the biggest band in the world. It doesn’t mean the same thing as it did when (a) the Beatles were battling the Stones, (b) the Stones were battling The Who, or (c) the Stones were battling Led Zeppelin for the generally accepted (and often self-appointed) title; for we now live in the Age of Pop-Hop, where twerking (if you don’t know what that is, consider yourself fortunate) and machine based melodies are generally the preferred way of the under 25 set to get down and get up. Is Rock burning out, or fading away? Is it merely reinventing itself, or will its dwindling number of apostles keep the concert lighters flickering until a new Jesus-Elvis emerges? Wait and see, but for now the discussion is subdued, and I daresay under the radar. Those of us who are old enough to remember what a guitar sounds like (does that sound ageist and smug? I’m over 30, I have a right to be curmudgeonly) can get excited about right now, because the stars have magically aligned and the 5 biggest and best rock bands of our time (with apologies to everyone’s favorite folk minstrels) will be releasing new music, and keeping the home fires burning brightly! Today is a good day to be alive. Love live rock.

Kings of Leon

Most everybody heard that the last tour was a near miss disaster low on Gatorade and high on…erm, life, and that the Southern kings of rock seemed to be imploding via a heady mix of family in-fighting, model wives, and booze. Then there was the inevitable hipster backlash to ‘Sex on Fire’ and ‘Use Somebody’, songs so massive and initially pleasing to the ear that they had to be bludgeoned to death by never-ending repeated radio plays, which actually led the Kings to stop playing them in shows, because some ‘fans’ would leave after hearing them. It seemed like the end of respectability and relevancy for Kings of Leon. But if the first two singles from new album ‘Mechanical Bull’ are any indication, the boys are back in all their foot stomping, rooster crowing, boozy-balladeering glory. I’m proud to say I have been a fan for more than 10 years. There will always be a place for bands like KoL, and all the drama and ups and downs only add to the story and poignancy of the songs; this is what a soon to be legendary career in Rock looks like. As long as Caleb is singing those songs and the rest of Followills are willing to follow (see what I did there?), the rock will keep rolling. New album out September 25.

Coldplay

No new album is in sight, just a lovely return to form piano ballad for a movie soundtrack that sounds like it could have been right at home on ‘A Rush of Blood To The Head’. It reminds us all that Coldplay can do this in their sleep, and that the Eno-isms of the last two albums, while sonically interesting, are really just glossing Chris Martin’s root talent – all the studio trickery in the world can’t match the voice, accompanied by piano or guitar.

 

Hopefully more good things to come from the world’s self-proclaimed biggest soft rock band….

New single out now.

Arcade Fire

Can we be anymore excited for this? Their last album, ‘The Suburbs’, was a brilliant and bold concept piece, daring to go where few bands go without sounding pretentious or arty for the sake of being arty (See: Pink Floyd, Radiohead), and live, they are as vibrant and life-affirming as ever. New album ‘Reflektor’ has rumoured collaborations with David Bowie and LCD Soundsystem….who knows what we can expect?

New album out October 29, new single to debut tonight!  

U2

Like their ‘dinosaur rock dad’ forbearer the Rolling Stones, prodigal Irish sons U2 have been at it longer than most of us have been alive. While their last album didn’t spawn any hit singles, it did have the biggest grossing tour of all time. Sound familiar? Every time U2 have a commercial or critical flop (see: Rattle and Hum, Pop) they come back swinging with reinvented, yet familiar, sounds and big anthems. And Bono isn’t one to go gently into that good night, as he so recently confessed: “U2’s gotta do something very special to have a reason to exist right now.” Succinctly put, these are the stakes for U2: remain culturally relevant, or risk becoming a nostalgia sideshow like the Stones, forever trotting out the greatest hits package of years past.  New album out late 2013.

Arctic Monkeys

Ask my friends…..I’ve been wrong before about the world conquering potential of a band before you have ever heard them (see: The Strokes) but I’ve also been very right (see: Coldplay, Kings of Leon). So what do I think about the Arctic Monkeys? They…could be big. Really big. 7 years ago, their debut album became the first true internet phenomenon, the fastest selling UK album of all time. It was all buzz and vigour, capped by lead singer Alex Turner’s keen observations of home town streets and dance clubs, all delivered with the wry and snotty wit of a then 19 year old punk. Each successive album has honed the band’s craft and expanded their sound and confidence, with Turner’s songwriting, bravado and range becoming increasingly captivating. Just listen to “Cornerstone” or “Love is A Laserquest”:

And you know what? Teenagers actually like them. Yup, those same teenagers with the hormones and the rap music. The new single Do I Wanna Know’ is genuinely swaggering, a fusion of modern rap beats and lounge rock sex. It will bust open the US for Arctic Monkeys; what follows from there remains to be seen.  I think they are on the verge of creating an Achtung Baby for the new Millennium, and while I haven’t heard the rest of the album yet, things sound promising.

New album comes out tomorrow.

August and Everything After

30 Aug

August is the dying days of summer – hold on to that feeling! This month’s playlist is all about memory, looking back, looking forward, and living life. Cliché, catchy, covers, new and old, wanting to be different, wanting to belong. So just do it!

  1. Grouplove  – “Itchin’ on Photograph”. Back during Xmas 2011, Unsung turned you onto this very special band via their breakthrough single, Tongue Tied….at the time they were “an entire house party in 3.5 min, including that little hint of melancholy as the room clears and people go home.“ Their second single is an edgier affair that showcases lead singer Christian Zucconi’s range and gusto. I’m a sucker for a clapping and a good mid song kick-in and this one has ‘em in spades. Just don’t ask me what it means to be a itchin’ on a photograph or scratchin’ on a thermostat. Also check out their latest single “Ways to Go”.
  2. Arctic Monkeys – “I Wanna Know”. A swaggering sexy confessional stomp from Sheffield’s finest about that age old issue – The Drunk Dial. It’s been fun to watch these lads grow up and embrace their place amongst rock’s finest. Could their new album AM be their breakthrough in the US? Stay tuned for an Unsung breakdown next week.
  3. Alkisti Protopsalti  – “How You Remind Me” (Greek Version) . 1o days ago, I heard this on a bus from Athens to Alonissos and it took me a second to place it. Greeks have this very weird affection for some things Canadian. I always find it interesting what songs translate to other parts of our globe, and Nickelback’s first (and undisputedly, their best) hit certainly has a universal appeal. But something about the Greek language provokes passion and anthem; maybe it’s the economy, the Balkan powder keg, or all that sweet sun. Chad Kroeger, remember when you weren’t Avril’s sk8r boi?
  4. Lorde – “Rulers”. Hype surrounds this New Zealand teen, groomed by the star maker machinery  since the age of 13 to be the next big thing. Enjoy her before the tweensters do, along with her novel take on the rap-pop game.
  5. Grimes – “Genesis”. If you are listening to this playlist on your headphones without watching the videos, do yourself a favour and switch over and get little visual pleasure. Grimes is from Vancouver and the hipsters have known about her for ages; she is their dancing synth-messiah. But the straight-up weirdness of this video, a fun romp with swords through California, belittles the tender soul and hypnotic rhythm of this track. For something brilliantly different, check out her major label debut, Visions.
  6. Janelle Monae  – “Primetime”. A solid R&B banger that recalls vintage Toni Braxton and Whitney.  If you’ve never heard of Monae, watch this first and be prepared to be electrified. Her ambitious major debut was a concept album about her turning into a robot in the future. Yeah. Who knows what her new album, out in September, will concoct?
  7.  David Gray – “Money (That’s What I Want)”. The annuls of time will record that the White Ladder album was one of the millenium’s classics, a rudimentary melding of machine beats and tender folk, since evolved and aped over and over again. If you’re like me, you’ve lost track of David Gray, the bobble-headed voice overshadowed by the eclipsing power of a colossal debut. But this cover has to be one of the all-time greats, far better than the Beatles’ version, because it interprets Chuck Berry in a different light and adds a whole lot of soul. Enjoy.
  8. T- Rex- “Buick McKane”. How awesome would this song sound live in concert, drinking, doing drugs, stealing money, having sex, or just walking down the street? Rock and fucking roll. What every Oasis song aspires to be.
  9. Beady Eye – “In The Bubble With A Bullet”. Speaking of Oasis, unless you are an Oasis freak like me, you may not know that they broke up for good after one final back stage dust up involving insults about wives and busted guitars. In the fallout, brother Noel went onto a successful solo career, and brother Liam took the rest of the band and formed the oddly named Beady Eye. The rest is history. Beady Eye are mostly middle of the road and middling Brit-pop, struggling to remain relevant, still trading on the legacy of their forbearers. But this song, hidden and obscured as a UK only b-side, is an absolute gem (like most Oasis b-sides used to be), a folked-out romp that would have been at home on Rod Stewart’s classic ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’. Gawd, I miss Oasis.
  10. Kings of Leon – “Wait For Me”. Yeah, I know, you’re probably sick of Kings of Leon and are ready to lump them into the Nickelback / Bon Jovi bucket of overplayed and obvious ever since “Use Somebody” and “Sex On Fire”. But don’t, as Unsung will argue next week. This is gonna be their next single, and their next album is gonna be massive. If you haven’t pledged and pleaded to a loved one to be straight and honest and true, to be open and intimate, no more messing around, no more pain in the rain, next time, this time –  just like the messed-up self-professed drinker Caleb promises on this Downbound Train, you probably aren’t living life. Isn’t that all we can ask from a song? Til next time. Winter is coming, get ready.

Alabama Shakes

5 Jan

The Band:  Alabama Shakes

 

What’s the story?:   They hail from the small town of Athens, Alabama. They don’t look like a band any record label would promote. And they don’t sound like anything on the radio. Old soul meets rock & roll and a voice that tells you freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.

 

Sounds Like:   The lovechild of Al Green and Janis Joplin conceived after a night of just enough Jack Daniels

The gateway song:   “I Found You” listen at http://alabamashakes.bandcamp.com/

Other songs:     

“Hold On”

“On Your Way”

“You Ain’t Alone”

If you like this, check out these bands/songs:

Etta James “I’d rather go blind” RIP

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings “100 Days, 100 Nights” album

Paolo Nutini  “Coming Up Easy” and “No Other Way”

Kings of Leon “Back Down South”

Otis Redding “My Lover’s Prayer”