15th February 2015 | Music
Kaiser Chiefs are one of the most successful punk rock bands of the 21st Century. Consisting of lead vocalist Ricky Wilson (who can be spotted alongside Tom Jones, Rita Ora and will.i.am on The Voice), guitarist Andrew White, bassist Simon Rix, keyboardist Nick Baines (AKA Peanut) and drummer Vijay Mistry, there music has topped the charts with all five of their LP’s reaching the Top 10 UK Album Charts.
Following the huge success of their latest effort, “Education, Education, Education and War”, the Kaisers embarked on an arena tour around the UK and our very own Arts Editor James Gilmore paid them a visit backstage before their gig at the busiest arena in the world, the O2 Arena.
JG: Your new album, “Education, Education, Education and War” was released in March last year to huge acclaim. Why did you decide to go with that name for the release?
KC: We like to think of ourselves as current and in touch with the news. The title of the album is a reference to a famous line that Tony Blair said when he emphasised the importance of education, but, he’s now best known for his controversial decision to go to war. Similarly, we think that sometimes, as artists, our messages get mixed up and there is a chance that the thing that we want to become known for won’t be our legacy.
JG: Did the name of the new album carry any reference to your first album title, called “Employment”?
KC: Oooh I see what you did there Jamesy boy! Smart, but we can’t take credit for that, no.
JG: The album was released last March but you’ve waited until now to do the tour? Any reason behind that?
KC: It wasn’t planned this way. We should have done this tour a long time ago, it’s a scheduling thing.…
19th January 2015 | Music
The musical seers at the BBC have in their wisdom chosen Years and Years as their Sound of 2015. Judging by the fact that previous winners include Adele, Ellie Goulding and Sam Smith, you would think there was something in this. But do Years and Years have what it takes to dominate your radios?
Essentially: yes. They have instant appeal, blending the best bits of dance and pop into a pleasing cocktail. Frontman Olly Alexander (who some may recognise from ‘Skins’) offers silky smooth vocals that sail over sparse soundscapes of infectious bass riffs. The spacious feel of their sound allows subtle nuances to develop within the tracks, and gives them a crisp and cool vibe akin to a slightly less miserable version of The Xx.
The band have been going since 2012, and have noticeably developed. Initially their material was haunting and almost painfully earnest in their 2013 Traps EP. The title track opens with what sounds like a slowed down version of the introduction to I Predict a Riot mixed with a haunted house. What’s more, the lyrics are equally humourless: Alexander declares in ‘You and I’ that “I see monsters, I see dreams”. Listeners smile and nod nervously.
Whilst there was undoubtedly something beautiful about the lush quality of these earlier tracks, they occasionally seemed to wallow in their own prettiness. Both ‘Traps’ and ‘You and I’ are a fairly standard three minutes, but both of them seemed to drag as there’s nothing propelling them forwards. But the band quickly developed and started to churn out some of their best material so far. ‘Real’ and ‘Take Shelter’ are a pair of nightclub orientated singles from 2014 which are frankly fantastic.
Gone is the somewhat self-indulgent misery, to be replaced by irresistible synth bass…
19th January 2015 | Music
After a six year absence, The Prodigy have returned in an effort to revive what they feel is the failing rave scene. Their latest single nasty does go some way in proving that punk is not dead. At first listen it does just sound like being shouted at by a drunk who thinks you’re nasty whilst being pummelled with a fair amount of bass, but (perhaps against my better judgement) I begin to yield a certain grudging respect to the song. Amidst all the fury, the fragmentary yells and occasionally bonkers sound effects, there was definitely something worth admiring.
The track opens in a deceptively simple way, before exploding into full throttle as an echoing voice yells “so raw!”. Just as you’re about to question what this actually means, we’re into the chorus, mainly consisting of angry cries of “NASTY, NASTY!”. At first I stubbornly believed there was nothing clever about screaming a song’s title at the listener, and perhaps there isn’t, but the aggression is addictively genuine.
In the transition sections there’s a stomping percussive thud, and as the song develops there’s some rather odd sound effects. One of them is a whistling sound akin to a spaceship hovering above the studio, whilst a siren-like wail can be heard later on, presumably to restore order amongst the ‘nasty’ people. After the second chorus there is another baffling cry of “I ain’t no tourist”, before an odd string synth briefly adds an air of unexpected grandeur to the song.
It feels like it’s all over in a flash, and the listener is left somewhat taken aback and slightly confused, especially if you’ve not listened to any of The Prodigy’s songs before. It’s certainly an acquired taste, and listening to a whole album of it would probably be…