Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 21

Another Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode that features three, different albums exploring their root of rock, expanding it outward into genres that certainly give them vast opportunities to catch the ear of our Beyond Your Radio, music multiverse listeners.  And while one of them has been a staple since their debut in 2003, the other two bands are just getting revved up in their craft, intensity, and delivery of their brand of rock.  This episode represents Tennessee, Los Angeles, and the East End of London, which sounds very interesting when you say it.  Enjoy!

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski discusses these (3) albums + adds three (3) more reviews!]

 

 

Kings of LeonCan We Please Have Fun

On our 21st episode of 2024, this band celebrates their shifty alt-rock, indie-rock and garage-rivalist blend, as they reach 21 years of age in the public music multiverse spectrum.  Can We Please Have Fun is their ninth studio album, and if there’s one thing you can always say about Kings of Leon, it is that they are a collective in songwriting and musicianship so that the songs and delivery are never the same from song to song, while maintaining a deep connection to the epicenter of root rock.  Can We Please Have Fun is no exception to the Followill rule (that’s the family that this band is, in case you didn’t know).  A family of musicians for 21 years in this side of the music business (not the cheesy for show side) is pretty rare throughout music history, when every member of the band is family.  They’ve not only been a reliable staple in indie-alt-rock, but they’ve managed to stay true to their style of rock, their fan base, and always get a favorable review from critics.

For me, Kings of Leon‘s evolution in the first four albums was completely intoxicating and each album had an anticipatory nerve that it hit.  They always delivered, and each of the albums, while having a commercial appeal, never had that feeling that it was anywhere near intentional.  The Followills just made great songs with an indie-touch, good hooks, and well delivered lyrical poignancy.  Their albums always had a hint of cool production, but never over the top or intentionally studio designed.  And while I have not seen them live, my assumption is that they are just as pure to that (and then some) when delivering the material live.  That vocal of Caleb was unique to me and that time in the industry.

Their new album took me a second listen to detach myself from my listening habits, lately.  And, that title.  Especially, when the first song, ‘Ballerina Radio’ string together a rather downtrodden keyboard and lyrical line “…I’m a masochist, I know.”  I’m not sure we’re going to have fun.  This is one of the hard spots of listening, digesting, and attempting to critique albums in all kinds of musical genres.  If you’re looking for a heavier, deep, soundscape with bridges, reaching for highs and lows this record doesn’t press that audio flesh.  However, the messages, tempo and beguiling nature of the record has a comfortable flow from vocal to the instruments involved.  This is very well written and delivered heart and soul, unfiltered (no audio tuning here) connection into each song’s rhythm, lyrics, and musicianship.  It’s a very tight band recording with a live kind of feel to me, as if it was all recorded together in the studio with very little tracking and spooling together from various takes.  The sum of the whole (even with Caleb’s vocal always feeling lead worthy), continues to be the driving force of Kings of Leon in their twenty-first year of shelling out reliable rock records.  It’s how it all works together for them, and it’s still cool and worthy of our time and ears.

Is this a subtle album, again?  Maybe.  Can you say it’s safe?  No.  ‘Mustang’ is certainly a bit out of their usual, and that one is getting a lot of digital plays (1.5 million last I checked).  Listen to the musicianship and how the variety of starts and stops encompass arrangements and small bridges in short track times of even the songs that you would feel are in what you might call “safe.”  Yes, the signature of the band is there, and that’s the core of what will continue for probably another 21 years!  But, they never feel as if they’ve done this before, and it feels as sincere and passionate as it did when I was severely smitten with  them in their first four albums.  It’s not their fault.  It’s my fault, I didn’t find it as engaging.  And now, looking back on three listenings, I’m loving this record more and more, finding all the “fun” I remember, and I am more than “pleased,” and you will be to!

The Band

  • Caleb Followill – vocals, guitar
  • Jared Followill – vocals, bass, guitar
  • Nathan Followill – vocals, drums, percussion
  • Matthew Followill – vocals, guitar, synthesizer

Additional musician/special guest (Surprise Canadian): 

Can We Please Have Fun Tracklisting

  1. Ballerina Radio
  2. Rainbow Ball
  3. Nowhere to Run
  4. Mustang
  5. Actual Daydream
  6. Split Screen
  7. Don’t Stop the Bleeding
  8. Nothing to Do
  9. M Television
  10. Hesitation Gen
  11. Ease Me On
  12. Seen

 

Vitskär Süden – Vessel

If you’re a follower of our channel and these articles, you might remember the last time we had a “Vessel” in our discussion (okay, that’s probably 25 of you I’m sub-referencing for).  Currently, in the music multiverse the word ‘vessel’ seems to have heavy connotations.  I’m referencing the band leader named ‘Vessel’ from the band, Sleep Token.  A modern enigma of progressive rock, metal and metalcore that can shock, surprise, and swallow you whole, and then suddenly deliver and grindcore song that’s sensory overload.  So, when I see a few outlets in social media playing up the album titled, Vessel, I was ready to strap on the ear-gear and buckle up for a roller coaster with a sharp drop and a medical alert badge ready finger on the trigger.  Well, this is Vitskär Süden of Los Angeles, California, and while the roller coaster ride is there, it was nowhere near the hard-audio expectation of the wording of the album or the band (which this is my first foray into.

This is a dark tale of a rollercoaster ride, breathing heavily in the slow, psych-edged progressive world against a very breathtaking operatic vocal that speaks to sombre tales.  The pace is wormy and dream-sound (if you feel me), which is welcomed pace the sonic doom they’ve created here.  That’s it!  Sonic doom!  I like it!  You?!  It can take some getting used to.  Unless, you’re the soundtrack of our lives kind of individual like I am (remember I spoke about background music while writing my novels on The Birdwatcher On Unknown Sundays).  This is one of those albums that relentlessly in style reaches out and grabs the macabre with complete self-rapture.   You know it the minute Martin Garner shares his Bruce Dickinson meets Type-O Negative delivery on ‘Vengeance Speaks,’ and the titles play out perfectly to the spellbinding progressive slow-doom expected (yeah, but of a foreign band — like the name, right).  From ‘Tattered Sails’ to ‘Elegy’ you are taken prisoner aboard this ride, snared by the depth of dark harmonic compassion without any hope of finding a sliver of light.

But that’s the intention of Vessel.  It’s the beauty of the entire album in how it shares this bleak passion, conjures the sonic landscape surrounding such a love-spoken non-lullabies.  This is not your normal progressive dark-folk wheelhouse, and should be entered into lightly.  The opera and attention to detail plays out instrumentally and vocally in smooth and even tension that holds it all together as one.  And maybe that’s the only problem here — that, as beautiful and haunting as it feels and is — it doesn’t drift far from the composition and mood piece.  Perhaps a hint of contrast, dangling in-betwixt the modal melancholy would have elevated the effect.  However, Vitskar Suden, has marked this record and their dark territory with Vessel, and I’m in the fan club now — I think.  There’s no light here, so it’s hard to tell.

The Band

  • Martin Garner – Bass/Vocals
  • Julian Goldberger – Guitar/Synths
  • Christopher Martin – Drums
  • TJ Webber – Guitar

Vessel Tracklisting

  1. Vengeance Speaks
  2. R’Iyeh
  3. Through Tunnels They Move
  4. Hidden By The Day
  5. Tattered Sails
  6. Everyone, All Alone
  7. Elegy

 

 

 

The HowlersWhat You’ve Got To Lose To Win It All

The minute I heard the ‘Intro’ and the first licks of ‘How Long’ I had a feeling deep in my music gut (beyond the Doritos and Mt. Dew) that this band had a United Kingdom connection (although they are kind-of from all over, as Guus is from Netherlands I believe).  If you are missing The Stone Roses mixed with Kaleo, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats and Mumford & Sons, then you’ve come to the right band and recording! The Howlers are definitely the King they proclaim in the song ‘To Make A King,’ as they have definitely crafted a grand release in all of the name above!

On May 17th of this year, the unique garage band from the East End of London (where they all met) released what I believe to be their debut album, What You’ve Got To Lose To Win It All.  And for a debut, they’ve technically crafted a very tightly produced and well thought-out, subtle genre bending pop-rock record with a familiar groove, a sonic signature, and a bit more depth than you should expect from a less-than-known rock group.  How do I come to this conclusion you might immediately ask?  Well, why don’t you listen to the depth of ‘El Dorado’ with groove and rock with guitar made-horns in the background slightly bending to the flavor of desert-Spanish-rock, and then move into ‘Cowboys Don’t Cry’ that has a straight folk strum and pop harmony made for the ear-masses.  I even had a moment with ‘Lady Luck’ that reminded me of the pace and delivery of Live’s ‘Pain Lies on the Riverside’ but then it explodes perfectly into a very groovy Stone Roses sonic jam.

They don’t have to push the soundboard too far.  They keep the music and delivery as honest as it feels, and they shake it where it works to, allow simple to be catchy and raw where it is necessary, and they make all the right decisions in length and song writing to make this a very pleasurable surprise in the music multiverse among the crowded pop-rock environment.  The East End of London has a group in The Howlers that could make a fantastic musical mark in the industry, and I’m hoping that the only thing they have to lose, to win it all, is — nothing!  They have nothing to lose!  Let it all hang out, lads (that is what I should call you in the East End, right?).

The Band

  • Adam Young:  vocals, guitar
  • Tom Triggs:  drums
  • Guus ter Braak:  bass

What You’ve Got To Lose To Win It All Tracklisting

  1. Intro
  2. How Long
  3. I Need Your Love
  4. To Make A King
  5. El Dorado
  6. Further Down The Line
  7. Cowboys Don’t Cry
  8. Wanting, Waiting, Wishing
  9. Lady Luck
  10. On The Run (Over You)
  11. Once Again
  12. Matador Interlude
  13. Nothing To Lose
  14. When The Flowers Bloom Again
  15. Take It Easy

 

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