As mentioned in a few of my other reviews, The King Blues are one of my favourite bands and so I thought it high time I reviewed my favourite album of theirs; Punk & Poetry.
The album was released in April 2011 on Transmission Recordings and was the 5th album from the London based punk band who show influences of different genres and whose lyrics are often political.
The band sadly went on to make only one more album after Punk & Poetry and then split in April 2012 after 8 years together as a band. Lead singer and front man Jonny 'Itch' Fox went on to record some solo work and former guitarist and vocalist Jamie Jazz formed part of the 4 piece band Bleach Blood.
I'm always surprised that so few people have heard of The King Blues, but they do get a reasonable amount of air play on Kerrang radio in particular and they have had some chart success, Punk & Poetry itself went into the top 40 chart, falling just short of making the top 30. However, I suppose that any band who consider themselves punk are not going to measure their success in chart sales.
This band and this album in particular are most likely to appeal to you if you enjoy acts such as:
Cage the Elephant
***The album track by track***
Last of the dreamers is more of a spoken word tribute than a song, a nice short interlude before the real music begins. "This is for the origami swan who dared to soar up to the sun" This is Itch's take on the poet Anis Mojgani's Shake the Dust and the lyrics clearly echo this.
We are f***ing angry clearly demonstrates by title alone that this album is best not listened to around small children! I would describe this as a protest song with hard hitting lyrics and a heavy sound. There are a lot of synth noises on this track that in places I'm unsure of, but overall it's a good start to the album. "Students, workers and unemployed unite and rise out of the slums"
Set the world on fire has to be one of my favourite songs. Again I would describe this as a protest song, but less angry sounding than the previous track. The tune is catchy and the lyrics are absolute genius. "Then I sit down and read the newspaper, it tells me the enemy and lets me know the saviour"
Dancehall is a short piece (less than a minute long) which again is more of a spoken word piece fitted to music than a song. It has piano and vintage dance hall sounds (I mean more 30's - 50's dance hall rather than the reggae kind) which are an interesting mix with modern lyrics. "Make it the centrepiece, glimmering and shimmering"
The future's not what it used to be features some brass sounds which give an old ska feel to the track and lead on nicely from the sounds in the last track. Towards the end the music and vocals speed up a little and become more dub step influenced before switching back to the former beat which is nicely done. The track isn't the strongest on the album but it does fit in nicely and the lyrics are clever. "There's no unity, just you and and me, trying to keep our head above the lunacy"
I want you is another favourite of mine. It's a track to get your feet moving which manages to mix politics and romance into one beautifully uplifting song. The lyrics basically consist of likening things which go together and are simple yet clever "I want you like a foot wants a shoe"
5 bottles of shampoo is a beautiful piece, beginning with checkout sounds and Itch's vocals, the beat gradually comes in to create a song which cleverly speaks of a love for women's strength and a dislike of a society which often fails to recognise it. "Too fat, to thin, that's just media spin"
Sex Education is my least favourite track on the album although I can't quite put my finger on why, I suppose it could well be the subject and language which goes along with it. It is however still a good song, catchy, easy to remember chorus and clever lyrics. It speaks of how our youth today learn about sex from porn, the media and friends which overal gives a skewed idea of how it should really be. "The little box asks him are you 18, he's clicking the mouse passing the testing screen"
Shooting fascists is another short piece. Simply done with just a ukulele and Itch's vocals the track lasts less than a minute and reminds us that "Grandad didn't vote for fascists, he shot 'em"
Headbutt is another favourite of mine (I know, I know, I have lots of them on this album!). It's a wonderfully upbeat track with beautiful imagery in the lyrics. The song manages to stay away from anything political and instead has lyrics that are about a girl. "Strip teasing, fire breathing, dancing burlesque, producing beads of cold sweats on men's foreheads"
Does anybody care about us is the penultimate track of the album and is another good one! It's not as fast or angry sounding as some tracks whilst still being quite political. It features a nice catchy chorus. Lyrically this song managed to sum up pretty much how the current government makes me feel with lyrics like "digging graves to climb out of the ruts, we bare the scars from your cuts"
Everything happens for a reason brings the album to a wonderful close. It's not one of the better tracks in my opinion, but it does have it's place and brings the album to a nice finish. It's an easy going tune with a repetitive chorus and reasonably happy lyrics that talk about Itch's (now former) relationship and finding out that he was going to become a father. "The quack called us into his room where we had a scan and I realised for the first time I'd become a man".
I adore the cover for this album, it's quite intense which I feel is a good match for the music and it's monochrome design featuring a close up of Itch (looking a little angry with his hood up) makes it attention grabbing. I feel it fits the album well.
***Price and availability***
Punk & Poetry is available to buy from Amazon at £7.83 for a physical copy of the CD and is eligible for free delivery if you spend over £10 on the site. You can also buy the digital version for £5.99. Individual tracks can be purchased at the price of £0.69 each
HMV also have this album available for digital download at the same price of £5.99 for the full album, but are more expensive for individual tracks at £0.99 each.
You can also find Punk & Poetry on Spotify.
I think the price paid for this album is fantastic considering the quality of the music! It's obviously most cost effective if you opt for the digital download of the full album.
The tracks on this album all fit together beautifully and lead on from one another nicely, meaning that as well as having songs which are nice to pick out to use as play list favourites as I do with most albums, this is also a wonderful piece to listen to as a whole.
It's difficult to sum up the overall sound of this album, the band stay true to their ska-punk beginnings here whilst at times also using influence from hardcore, pop punk and dub step, all tied together with hard hitting political lyrics, a little spoken word poetry and a smattering of humour which makes quite a unique sound overall. Whatever you choose to call it, I sure do like it!
There will of course be people who find that this album is not quite their cup of tea (my poor boyfriend being one of them, playing this is a sure fire way to get him to vacate the room!) but if political punk is your thing, or you like a bit of melodic pop punk ska then this album beautifully delivers exactly what the title Punk & Poetry promises.
I guess it comes as no surprise that I am awarding this album a whole 5 stars and would wholeheartedly recommend it!
Released in 2011 this is the third album (I think) from The King Blues and to be honest it is pretty much more of the same stuff that was featured on their second album however they do continue to develop their music away from the original sounds they made. The two tone and reggae influences still persist however there is a harder more punky edge to some of the songs, the angry political rants still persist but there are a couple of tracks that are a little more commercial in their nature.
There are some throw away skits on the album as well which I find a bit annoying and lead singer Itch still finds time for a bit of poetry as well, some of which is quite amusing in the wry observations he brings, not least when failing to understand why a woman might need five different bottles of shampoo.
The album starts with a real crash bang whallop with the track "We are effing angry" which draws its influence from the student and worker riots provoked by the spending cuts and tuition fee increases (rather than the criminal ones this summer) and it is an angry wall of noise with some harsh lyrics to it and one to get your feet stamping. Set the World on Fire is another protest song aimed at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and parodying the Mail reading racism of middle England.
For me these two opening tracks are in my favourite top three however for me the best track has to be Headbutt which is another fast paced track but about an infatuation with a girl, only the politics of love in this track.
There are some weak tracks on this album though, I Want You feels overly commercial and does not fit with the bands style and Does Anybody Care About Us just leaves me cold and it is not the only track. After a few listens I did find myself jumping forward with this album to the tracks I liked and when I transferred it to my ipod only some tracks made the transition, others I did not bother with. Personally it is not as good as their last album but it is not all bad as when they are good they are very good indeed.
Punk and Poetry is the third album from london group The King Blues and there best yet! They have a completely original style of music, fusing together hip hop, punk, ska and folk. Jonny Fox's (vocalist) lyrics are incredible, mainly political but they also discuss many of societies problems such as sexual discrimination and porn. There is a variation of styles, some of the songs such as 'Set the World on fire' and 'Headbutt' have catchy melodies and choruses that hook you and make you sing along, then there are other songs such as '5 bottles of shampoo' which are much thinner in texture, less about the music and more about the lyrics and meaning of the song. One the best features of this band is that they don't always have big, fancy guitar riffs or complicated drum parts, they just provide accompaniment for the vocals.
Some of must listen songs:
Last of the dreamers- This is the first track on the album, its just under a minute long, it feels like its sort of introducing us to the album and sets the whole mood of the album.
We are fucking angry- This song is about the coalition goverment, talks about how society is fighting back. It is big, powerful and very aggressive.
Set the world on fire- This is my personal favourite, its catchy and melodic. This is the song and that I imagine that could turn mainstream.
5 bottles of shampoo - This song deals with the issue of sexism. Features supermarket sound effects which fit in with the story of the song. The lyricwriting for this song is brilliant. This song is very thin on instruments, with only a piano, trumpet and drums and at times just vocals, which adds to the atmosphere, similar to 'what if punk rock never happened' from their last album.
Sex Education- This song is about how nowadays, the youth learn about sex through porn instead of through education. The lyrics are amusing and comedic but also get across a message.
Headbutt- This was the first song off the album to be released off the album, its suited to being played on the radio, its catchy, has a fast tempo and its loud.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Last Of The Dreamers
2 We Are F-------g Angry
3 Set The World On Fire
5 The Future s Not What It Used To Be
6 I Want You
7 Five Bottles Of Shampoo
8 Sex Education
9 Shooting Fascists
11 Does Anybody Care About Us?
12 Everything Happens For A Reason