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Kasabian - Velociraptor
For the purposes of this review I will use my own biography of the band, which I have used on other reviews of Kasabian's albums.
I remember hearing about Kasabian through various sources and frequent mentions in NME magazine. They had been building a bit of a reputation in the build-up to the release of their first album and a date was set for 2004.
The first time I saw them was when they supported 'The Who'. At the time I was attending about a hundred gigs a years and although, like I said, I had heard of them I didn't really feel any excitement about seeing them and just meandered my way through chat with friends as I waited for The Who to come on. I noticed that Kasabian sounded Ok but it was obvious that being on such a big stage at the National Indoor Arena was a bit too much of a space to penetrate for their meagre equipment.
Then they played 'Clubfoot' and I abruptly stopped mid-sentence to listen. I'm quite a big fan of The Who, although they are not my favourite band and I certainly enjoyed Daltry swinging his mike about and Townsend swinging his arm even harder at his guitar. It was a great gig but on the way out all I had in my head was the 'Oooosh ahhh ahhh ahhh ah' of Kasabian's Clubfoot.
The album came out a few weeks later and I rushed to buy it on the morning of its release. I was so glad I did as it is a superb debut effort. I remember after they got more recognition that I hoped they would keep the electronica vibe and not lean more to the indie path, as they has been likened to oasis. Don't get me wrong, Oasis are Ok and some of my favourite bands play independent music but I think Kasabian had a great mix of both Indie and electronica. Sadly, for me the next two albums were too commercial and they tried to ride the indie wave of fame. It got them noticed but for me they sold out on their genre, which was not easy to pigeon hole. I'm glad to say that since then they have released a fourth album and although it is still basically an indie album it does retain some of that old electronica and the mystical sounds that the first album had in abundance. To be fair to them the second and third albums did have a mix of styles but the hype that went with it almost turned them into an Oasis cover band and I mean that with the greatest respect to Kasabian as they are a hard working bunch of lads. I just think that it must have been difficult for them, being thrust into the spotlight, to concentrate on their work. The first album was recorded on a secluded farm so that the boys would not be disturbed while constructing it.
Anyway, before I talk about the fourth album and its tracks, here is a little background information on Kasabian.
Kasabian - The Band
The band was formed in Leicester in 1997 by Tom Meaghan (lead vocals), Sergio Pizzorno (Keyboards ,lead guitar, electronic programming and backing vocals), Chris Edwards (Base) and Chris Karloff (Electronic programming, guitar) who is no longer with the band, having left in 2006.
It was pretty much an experimental that the boys played in for fun in their spare time. They originally called themselves 'Saracuse' and later changed it to Kasabian after Chris Karloff had been reading a book about Charles Manson. One of Charles Manson's gang members was his getaway driver. Her name was Linda Kasabian. Chris told the others about the name and they all loved it. The band name was immediately changed.
They were getting a few gigs around pubs and clubs and starting to get noticed. Serge Pizzorno was especially interested in making them into a 'real' band and they became a little more serious about trying to produce a first album. Money was an issue and created problems for them. In 2003 they eventually rented out a farm house and regularly played gigs for family members, friends and a handful of faithful fans. It was here that they set up their own recording studio and made the first album 'Kasabian'. It was raw and cutting edge and once it had been tweaked it was ready for release. The release date was 13th September 2004. They started to get noticed and the album received good reviews from some of the industry's top critics. The promotional side wasn't so good early on and the first two singles did not do too well. On the back of a Glastonbury appearance on 'the other stage' and the release of the third single 'Clubfoot', the band's reputation took off into the stratosphere.
The second album was called 'Empire' and came out in 2006. It went to number one in the UK album charts. I remember the video to the first single 'Empire', the title track, premiering at midnight when it came out on Channel Four. Empire got to number nine in the UK charts.
Kasabian's popularity was to climb again after a year in the wilderness. They had built up a steady cult following and performed many live gigs but their fans were fed up of waiting after a two year gap between the first and second albums. I felt a little like that myself to be honest. I still love the first album now but at the time I had played it to death and a two year wait was a little too long for another album. When Empire finally did come out I was disappointed that it was more indie based than the first album as I mentioned earlier.
The third album was called 'West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum' and came three years later. Yes, three years and an even longer wait between albums. By now though, Kasabian had built up a massive following and become known as a live band, so the gap didn't hurt them as much as the first time around. The album was a heady mix of indie and sample music that sounded like a mix between Turkish and Bhangra music.
Another two years and a fourth album, which I have only just purchased but I am well pleased with it. It sounds like it could be their best work yet and they have matured to knock out a pleasing grown-up album. So, let's take a look at that fourth album and see how far this band has come.
Kasabian - The fourth album - Velociraptor
Track One - Let's Roll Just Like We Used To
It's fair to say that I liked this track from the first play and now I love it. Kasabian finally seem to have got that mix of Indie and electronica (or their brand of it) right. Maybe they can shake that 'Primal Scream' tag once and for all. They have most certainly matured and the opening track of the album is testament to that. The track starts with a smashing gong sound and some very Arabic sounded chanting, or wailing would be better description. Then Tom's voice bursts out of nowhere and is backed by an electronic piano. The beat picks up and rides into the chorus, which is a brilliant catchy one. Tom then hums along to the tune before heading into the second verse. A great opening track for the new album. The song depicts two young lads looking out over the horizon. Serge says that it is really his love letter to Tom as they used to sit out and look out at the stars while they were writing the first album. 'Out of my garden, passed the battle cruiser, we jumped over cemetery gates, there on the wasteland, we saw the horizon I noticed your pupils dilate. They're at it again, let's roll just like we used to. In fields when we were young, our hearts got lost in the circles. We had it all, a rise and fall.' Track length - four minutes and forty seven seconds.
Track Two - Days Are Forgotten
The second track starts with more high pitched chanting and a sound that is easy recognisable as Kasabian. Another good chorus that bounces along with a great guitar lead and a thrumming base to back it up. This track is a little more reminiscent of past Kasabian efforts but a little more polished. Serge's guitar really does sound accomplished and so it sound by now. 'Hey son I'm looking forward, you're leaning backwards Of this I'm sure. Have you had enough? Are you feeling rough? Does your skull hurt? Well if it's warm. Cause I am taking back what's mine. I am taking back the time. You may call it suicide, but I'm being born again; I'm waiting.' Track Length - five minutes and two seconds
Track Three - Goodbye Kiss
A total change for the third track and a song, which, in its beginning is reminiscent of a Roy Orbison track. As it winds into the chorus it as elements of the sixties and 'Small Faces' in there. Quite a nice ditty and essentially a love song or a song about love lost. 'Doomed from the start, we met with a goodbye kiss, I broke my wrist. It all kicked off. I had no choice, you said that you didn't mind 'cause love's hard to find. Maybe the days we had are gone, living in silence for too long, open your eyes and what do you see? No more laughs, no more photographs. Turning slowly, looking back, see no words, can save this, you're broken and I'm pissed. Run along like I'm supposed to, be the man I ought to. Rock and Roll, sent us insane, I hope someday that we will meet again.' Track Length - four minutes and four seconds.
Track Four - La Fee Verte
The fourth track on the album has an even stranger start with distorted synth sounds that sound like a dying church organ. An acoustic guitar begins to strum and then Serge breaks in with his vocals. No offence to Serge but I prefer Tom on lead vocals and this track is a bit too psychedelic for me. Not saying that Serge is stoned but he sounds it on the verses to this track. Funny thing is about this track is that the chorus is still catchy and is a pleasant break away from the rest of the track. 'And every day, I got someone bringing me down, I got the eyes of a madman, I'm chasing round, how does it feel to live your life where nothing is real? So just send me down the river.' Track Length - five minutes and forty seven seconds.
Track Five - Velociraptor
This next track actually is the album title track and after the sultry, sometimes lethargically, stoned tones of Serge, Tom bursts out of this track like a rockahaust. Typical bouncing rock track for Kasabian. Serge does sing on this track too but is a little livelier due to the tempo of the track. It's the albums attempt at that raw, smashing Kasabian rock track that they have tried so hard to replicate since 'Clubfoot', that famous track from the first album. It doesn't quite manage it but it is not a bad track. One of the shortest on the album, strangely enough for a title track. 'Velociraptor, He's gunna find ya. He's gunna kill ya. He's gunna eat ya. There on the out skirts of his kingdom, so keep your head down Velci-velci-velociraptor!' Track Length - two minutes and fifty-one seconds.
Track Six - Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter From The Storm)
As alluded to earlier, I prefer Tom on lead vocals but Serge takes this track again and this time around it it works. Serge's voice fits this type of track and this is a very accomplished song. The beat, tempo and use of programming is really well matched. It has that Eastern European type music, steadily flowing in the background before belting out into the chorus and displaying some mystical, almost mesmerising sounds with a hint of the Orient thrown in to it Turkish roots. It is a track that reminds me of an epic movie like 'Seven Swords for Seven Samurai' or many other oriental, fight based epics. 'Cotton mouth is bleeding, one way glass deceiving , dope me up on women and credit cards. Promise X-Ray vision and fancy cars. The table's set for the bourgeois, better get in line with your dinner tray, Cause when it's all ran out and it's just you, left with the nut job swigging his crystal meth, and there's a constant ring of machinery, is there a place for me in history? Sending the boys away, leaving them out to play. Throwing them miles away, now it's another day, to shelter from the storm. Sending the boys away, leaving them out to play. Throwing them miles away, wishing for new years day, To shelter from the storm.'Track Length - six minutes and one second.
Track Seven - I Hear Voices
Track seven is so like a first album track that you would be forgiven for wondering whether it was an old track that never made it onto the first album. I absolutely love the synthesiser on this track. It really makes for as great melody and Serge plays it well with Tom thankfully back on vocals. I don't mean to sound harsh on Serge with the vocals as he does a good job when he does sing, but I just think Kasabian work better when Tom leads and Serge backs up and plays on the track and this track is a perfect example of that. 'I hear voices, they tell me to stop, why should I listen, they've never felt the drop. They hide in corners behind the pretty girls In their gold in their gold in their gold. One minute to a, one minute to a, one minute to midnight. My soul you can have it cause it don't mean shit. I'd sell it to the devil for another hit, and midnight is coming and I wish that you were here. I hear voices, echo in my brain. They don't like it cause I'm not dressed the same. They hunt for rabbits just like Yosemite Sam. Say your prayers, say your prayers, say your prayers. One minute to a, one minute to a, one minute to midnight. My soul you can have it cause it don't mean shit. I'll sell it to the devil for another hit.' Track Length three minutes and fifty-eight seconds.
Track Eight - Re-wired
Another typical Kasabian song, which could have made it onto any of their four albums. Crisp vocals from Tom and a catchy verse and chorus. Serge is again on backing vocals and the guitar and drums are prominent on the track and sound good together. Later in the track there is a little sampling and programming from Serge, which fades out as the track reverts to the chorus in the same vain as the earlier parts of the track. 'I feel like the time has come, a fearless rescue from everyone. Who made you the master? The lady caster, I found you looking for a good time, I was out in exile perfecting my style, I knew you wanted a reaction. Hit me! Harder! I'm getting re-wired. I flip the switch that make you feel electric. Even faster than before, I'm gonna light 'em up with you. I'm gonna light 'em up with you.' Track Length - four minutes and forty-four seconds.
Track Nine - Man of Simple Pleasures
The fourth and latest single from the album having been released on 7th May 2012.. Tom on lead vocals and a track which sounds like what would happen if you crossed The Rolling Stones with the Manic Street Preachers. Another catchy chorus and one that I personally really like. It is one of those songs that really grows on you and you like more the more times you hear it. 'I'm a man, a man of simple pleasures. I got all I need, so give me whisky measures. With dyslexic eyes I'm seeing very clearly, by the way, I'm on my way, but all of my life I've been treated like a fool, but I'm no one's fool.' Track Length three minutes and fifty-one seconds.
Track Ten - Switchblade Smiles
A monster track in more ways than one. In one sense it is a cacophony of mewlings and screeches that have been mixed and programmed into a chant, which is again a trademark of this band. Serge back on vocals with his laid back drawl but mixed in with Tom. When the beat kicks in it threatens to destroy your speakers. It is a powerful beat and is matched latter by thrashing guitars and a synth sound that has been amped to the max. A very creative tune. 'Track Length - four minutes and thirteen seconds.
Track Eleven - Neon Noon
A slow start that grinds its way into another melodic verse with Serge yet again starting the vocals on the track in slow style. An acoustic guitar accompanies his easy lyrics and about two minutes in a sample kicks in that is very reminiscent of the first album samples again. This builds up and is joined by a drum beat, which gives the track a pick up. Not one of my favourite tracks on the album but a nice tune all the same. I would have preferred the album to hasve ended on a more powerful note. 'Sink like a stone, hear no sound, time stood still. Enter the void, leave no trace where you've been. Never thought you'd understand, the years are slipping out of your hand, and all we ever wanted to be, was floating in the emerald sky. Our skeletons remain under a neon noon.' Track Length - five minutes and twenty seconds.
Kasabian are a band that I was into on the back of the first album but then for me the momentum they gained was spoiled by leaving too long between albums. I must admit though that I have come back to them with their fourth album and although the second and third albums are not on my favourite listening lists, I still love and comeback to the first album often. I have enjoyed listening to the fourth album again to write this review and can only hope that they don't leave it another three or four years until the fifth album is produced and released.
Velociraptor is definitely Kasabian's most accomplished album to date and has been well received by critics and fans alike. There is definitely a certain maturity to it and one gets a sense of the bands evolvement.
Definitely worth a listen if you haven't already and can be picked up for pennies now on internet sites and in any good record shop.
© Lee Billingham
Released in September of 2011, I had become aware of the release after first hearing one of the singles off the CD in early July. And that for me is where the problems started. The track in question was 'days are Forgotten' and it accompanied the promo for Sky's new football season and later on it would be used for the WWE TLC pay per view event. Whenever I hear music first played on adverts for mainstream companies alarm bells start to ring, essentially the music is fluff to sell stuff.
Switchblade Smiles was the next release and that provided a little more hope for what was to follow. A classic track from the group, heavy guitar riffs with synthesised vocals bearing more than a passing resemblance to tracks from the first album. Re-wired was the third release from the album which had a memorable video in it's favour featuring a guest appearance from Noel Fielding as Vlad the Impaler but not a lot else.
It would be remiss to ignore that on tracks such as Neon Neon or the opener Let's Just Roll Like We used, the Leicester 5 piece do try to be original, but it seems to be as if they are being forced to do it rather than a sense of natural progression. You get the feeling that they put them on their just to alleviate the overwhelming whiff of commercialism.
It's 50 minutes long, so certainly longer than the average fare and to be honest it does feel longer. Fitting nicely into the bands indie-electronic-psychedelic rock niche it just does what is expected. It lacks the creativity and thought that made 'West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum' such a delight. There is also a sense that a lot of post production has gone into this to smooth out the edges. It is as if some of the criticism they received for the aforementioned album has made them run back to the safety of the mainstream. And the critics rewarded them giving them consistently higher reviews that the fans favourite West Ryder.
Maybe in time this will be seen as the bands watershed moment. Do they continue to produce commercial driven, critic friendly fluff or would they prefer to excite their fans and use the talent they have. Time will tell. You can pick this 11 track CD up for around £6 in most CD retailers.
Kasabian are a band that I have fond memories of listening to as a younger teenager, with their 2004 hit single 'Club Foot' being one of my favourite songs from my schooldays. I used to listen to their eponymous debut album on a fairly regular basis and, while I never loved them enough to see them live or anything, I would consider myself to have been quite a fan. Well, I was a fan of that album, anyway, but not really much more than that as I have no memories of their second and third studio albums, entitled 'Empire' and 'West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum' respectively. I therefore hadn't listened to this band much at all until I recently decided to reacquaint myself with them via their new album, Velociraptor!. A friend of mine had the CD and so I asked if I could borrow it, not being confident enough that I would still like them to actually pay to own it myself. I've since listened to it several times and now feel prepared to give my opinions on it.
== Kasabian ==
Kasabian are an indie band from the Leicestershire area, who are probably most famous for their hit single 'Club Foot', which I cited earlier as being my most loved song by this band. They have received critical acclaim since the 2004 release of their debut album, with several of their tracks being used on adverts, and have also attracted large crowds at their live performances at festivals and tours.
== Velociraptor! ==
This being their fourth studio album, one could assume that by now, Kasabian have polished their style and sound somewhat, and this album will sound more 'Kasabian' even than their self-named first album. Or, I assumed anyway, that after several years of experience they would have developed their music more and sound more distinctive and unique than they first did.
While this album is unmistakably a Kasabian album, I don't know how much of this is down to the lead singer's distinctive voice and how much is their own style coming through. It's certainly not 'just another indie album', and does have its own more personal features, but I am still not struck with the impression that the band have come a long way over the years that I have not been listening to them as regularly. But whether or not that is a bad thing is, of course, subjective.
=== The Songs ===
This album contains eleven tracks in all, with the title track 'Velociraptor' coming in fifth on the tracklist. The first track on the album, 'Let's Roll Just How We Used To', starts with an instrumental, before lead singer Tom Meighan's comes in at around the one-minute mark. It's a decent song but it certainly doesn't pack the punch as the first track on their debut album, which was the oft-mentioned 'Club Foot'. The second song, 'Days Are Forgotten' feels much more Kasabian-y to me and feels like a more comfortable song for the band as well as being pretty good. The following song 'Goodbye Kiss', however, is far too dreary for my taste and I can't say that I particularly enjoy it and I can't say much different about track 4, 'La Fee Verte'.
The next few tracks are somewhat more to my taste, with 'Velociraptor!', 'Acid Turkish Bath' and 'I Hear Voices' being faster and more upbeat, with a better rhythm and more 'anthem' potential. If I continue to listen to any tracks on the album in the long term it will likely be these three in preference of the others. 'Re-Wired' comes next and while it's alright, its vocals are a bit too monotonous in tone to be a truly good song.
Rounding off the album are 'Man of Simple Pleasures', 'Switchblade Smiles' and 'Neon Noon', which while good songs all, again fall short of being great. The entire album seems to have potential to be really good but it, unfortunately, doesn't quite manage it. It's an alright selection of songs but no more, sadly.
== Overall Impressions and Conclusion ==
While there were a few good songs and none of them were terrible, really, I can't say that I particularly loved this album. It was okay and I reckon that if you're a hard-core Kasabian fan you are unlikely to be let down by it but it's certainly not going to be one that I listen to for much longer. I've been playing it on random while I write this review and while I haven't hated the experience, I am now quite happy to be changing it to an album which I enjoy considerably more. I didn't buy this album, as I said earlier, and am happy that I didn't as it isn't one that I'm particularly keen to have in my collection. If I were to own it, I would say that the best thing about having it would be that it has an attractive cover (as you can see pictured), but I wouldn't buy it based on the cover alone. That said, it was a decent listen and I'm not sorry that I borrowed it from my friend, although I will quite happily give it back. If you still fancy this album after reading my review, you will be interested to hear that Amazon is selling it for the reasonable price of £7.99.
In conclusion, I am unsure as to whether I would recommend this album to a friend, or indeed to you readers. It's average, but if it's your type of music, you'll probably like it more than I did. Listen to it on youtube before purchasing it anyway, just in case.
As far as British bands are concerned at present, it would be fair to suggest that Kasabian are one of the biggest bands in the UK at the present time. They have built up quite a reputation since bursting onto the scene with their self-titled debut album in 2004. Since then they have furthered their reputation through the release of Empire in 2006 and West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum in 2009 prior to the release of this, the bands 4th studio album. The album was released on the 19th September this year following the release of one prior single.
Who Are Kasabian
For those of you yet to come across the Indie rock 4 piece they originate from Leicestershire and formed in 1999 they were formed whilst lead singer Tom Meighan and guitarist Sergio Pizzorno were still at college. During those early days their music was quite heavily influenced by The Stone Roses and Oasis, which is said to be reflected in the bands early demos. Having recruited bass player Chris Edwards from the studios where they recorded their early demos. They recruited drummer Ian Matthews to complete the bands current line up in Bristol during 2004, when he was asked to tour with the band prior to joining up permanently in 2005.
Odd Name, Where'd It Come From?
Having formed under the name Saracuse originally they decided to make a change in the name shortly after being picked up by the RCA record label. The new name, Kasabian, was picked by former Keyboard and guitar player Chris Kaloff. He had been reading up on a member of Charles Manson's cult, Linda Kasabian, who acted as Manson's getaway driver. Thinking the name sounded quite cool he pitched it to the rest of the band and they agreed it would be the new band name.
Album Number 4
The band returned to the studio in November 2010 with producer Dan The Automator, who had previously worked with the band on 2009's West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. Once in the studio Serge worked closely with Dan to ensure that the album had the sound the band were really going for. As the main creative force behind the band songwriter Pizzorno likes to keep an element of control over each of the albums and I think the end result works well with his contribution both in the band and behind the mixing desk.
As a result the work both men put in on the mixing desks and production booth ensured another quality album from the Leicestershire based band, scoring a number one in both the UK album and album download charts.
It is unusual to see a band proclaim their 4th album as their best work to date, however that is exactly what Kasabian have been quoted as saying. For me, their best album remains 2004s self-titled debut, however this does come close in parts. In fact as soon as I'd heard "Days Are Forgotten", the first single from the album, I knew that this was going to be a decent album. It exudes a certain swagger that the band really does well. It provides a fast start to the album with a decent drum beat carried along well by the bass riffs and the lead guitar. The vocals from Tom really do fit in with the bands trademark sound and this track works really well as the albums 2nd track.
That's because it follows on from the albums lead track "Let's Roll Just Like We Used To", which starts slowly with the bang of a gong and some sound effects before a lone trumpet announces the start of the album. From here it builds nicely with a mixture of strings and horns and the bands trademark guitar riffs. The vocals compliment the musical styling well and the lyrics harp back to a time when things were easier and more care free. It's a decent opener that really sets the tone and links up well with "Days Are Forgotten", which carries the sound nicely into the album.
The whole tone of the early exchanges of the album is lightened a little with "Goodbye Kiss", which slows things down a touch. It's a more melodic track than perhaps we're used to from Kasabian, but the style really works. Again a mixture of strings and a nice simple guitar riff compliment Tom's strong vocals throughout. The album then moves drastically from the melodic sounds of "Goodbye Kiss" to the far more laid back and psychedelic sounds of "La Fee Verte", which also brings Serge onto lead vocals.
The song musically, lyrically and vocally seems to meander slowly through its 5 minute 48 second run time. It is a really good song though and shows another direction that Kasabian are pushing their musical talents. With heavy Beatles styling's it is something different from the band, but it is something that works well. Almost instantly from the end of the previous track the album's title track "Velociraptor" explodes through your stereo. It's a much faster paced track with simple lyrics and a more carefree attitude. It's a reasonable track with a decent guitar lead sound, but my real concern is, well does it really fit in with this album, the answer perhaps is not really, but it is still very enjoyable.
I wasn't really sure about "Acid Turkish Baths (Shelter From The Storm)" the first couple of times I listened to it, however it has really grown on me the more I listen to it. It has a really interesting bass line that really draws your attention, however with a more Middle Eastern influence it really shouldn't fit into this album, but it does. The vocals are strong and really show off tom's vocal range, whilst musically it is quite a diverse approach that really sounds good. the style changes again with "I Hear Vocies", which takes on a more synthesised and keyboard led sound. It's a much slower paced track that brings things back to a more electronic grounding.
Then comes perhaps one of the biggest reminders of what Kasabian do best in "Re-wired". It has a familiar and at times simplistic structure that works well. The bass and guitars compliment each other really well with the bass really taking the lead. It's also a track that reminds me a lot of their debut album, however slightly more mature sounding. Once again the style changes and for the first time not in a good way. In "Man Of Simple Pleasures" the vocals and music just sound a little too flat and don't really compliment the good work already done on this album. It's not even that it's a bad track; it just doesn't really fit into the overall sound of the album and for me is really the weak link.
The downward trend started by "Man Of Simple Pleasures" continues on "Switchblade Smiles", which for me just doesn't fit onto this album. It has a really dark and intimidating tone to it that really highlights the synthesisers once again. The lyrics are quite dark and moody and the whole song just doesn't really fit for me. After such a promising start the albums seems to fade off towards the end and that feeling is finalised in "Neon Neon", the last track on the album. It's quite a relaxing track that on its own sounds really good, however in the context of the previous two tracks it just adds to a disappointing end to the album.
Almost, But Not Quite
I'd like to say that I loved Velociraptor and agreed that it was the bands best work so far, however I just can't bring myself to say it. There are some excellent tracks on this album and up until the last 3 tracks I was almost willing to admit this was my favourite Kasabian album, but the end of the album really lets it down for me. There are some excellent songs and even the playful Velociraptor plays its part in making this album. It shows a band willing to diversify their approach to making an album and the different styles work.
Perhaps I'm being too harsh on Kasabian, however that's purely because they are victims of their own success. The early albums were so good that it takes a lot in my eyes for them to compete and whilst Velociraptor went close it just had one or two missing links that didn't work for me. I'm sure that all 3 songs at the end of the album will grow on me the more I listen to the album, however I do feel that the band have released better, complete albums than this and for that reason I cant quite give it 5 stars. If you've liked the bands previous work or if you like Oasis, Stone Roses, Arctic Monkeys and the like then I'd suggest you will enjoy this album, a decent Indie rock effort, just not quite their best.
Who Are Kasabian?
Kasabian are a five piece indie rock band who formed in Leicestershire (my home town!) back in 1999. The band has released four studio albums and has won three NME awards. The band's debut album, Kasabian, was released in the UK in 2004. It came fourth in the UK Album Chart and four of the tracks became popular singles. The band's other two albums prior to Velociraptor! were equally as popular as there debut album, with Empire (2006) reaching number 9 in the UK Album Chart, and West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum (2008) gaining the 'Best Album' award at the 2009 Q Awards. I first came across Kasabian's music quite a while ago now. The first song of theres that I heard (and instantly loved!) was Shoot the Runner. Unfortunetly not many of Kasabian's other songs quite compare to this song in my personal opinion, however since hearing it I have listened to many of there songs, purchased all of there albums and become a pretty big fan of theirs. If you have never heard of Kasabian before, which is pretty unlikely, then I would probably compare them to band such as Oasis, Kaiser Chiefs, Artic Monkeys, etc. I definetly don't think they're quite as good as any of the bands mentioned, but they sort of mix together bits and bobs from each of those bands to create there own sound, if that makes sense. I adore Kasabian's lead singer, Tom Meighan, as he has such a husky voice - this is why I would compare there sound to Oasis, but with a bit more of a modern, fun and electro feel. The only thing I would say that I don't like about Kasabian is that sometimes they go a bit over the top with there vocals and some of the songs are boderline screamo. Okay, they're no where near screamo, but as someone who isn't a huge fan of rock music there instrumentals and (at times) vocals can be a little hardcore! No one is quite sure of where the band's name comes from, although it has been speculated that it is taken from the Tate murders get away driver Linda Kasabian.
The Band Members
- Tom Meighan - Vocals
- Sergio Pizzorno - Guitar, synths, vocals
- Chris Edwards - Bass
- Ian Matthews - Drums
- Jay Mehler - Touring guitarist
Velociraptor! is Kasabian's fourth studio album. It was officially released very recently in mid September 2011 however leaked onto the internet ten days before the official release date. The band started working on it in November 2010, with Daniel Nakamura, a hip hop producer who also produced one of the band's past albums and is also known for producing the Gorillaz debut album. The tenth track on the album, Switchblade Smiles was the first single released, it was exclusively played on Radio one in June 2011. Velociraptor! was quite an anticipated album, seeing as it is Kasabian's first studio album in over three year, plus the fact that Kasabian are quite a cocky bunch of lads and were boasting that this would be there their best album and the one that would get alot of hype and general attention, they even claimed that it would change peoples lives and that it would match the standards of Beatles music! They definetly aren't shy of compliments. Not many of my friends like Kasabian, even the ones who are into rock music, so it wasn't the most talked about album in my local area or anything like that, however I was personally really looking forward to its release and the album has recieved very positive critical acclaim, with critics stating that the album has lived up to expectations. Some critics go as far as saying that the album is an improvement on there older work, which I don't agree with. I do like this album, but I don't think it brings anything new to the music scene. It's quite a run of the mill rock album and nothing really stands out. Alot of the lyrics don't actually mean anything and are just there for show, while the instrumentals are slightly random and don't actually merge in with the song's lyrics quite as much as i'd of liked as it creates messy songs which are all stuck together. Obviously though as I said before I do like this album and despite how rubbish I have just made it sound, it's pretty good - after all, Rolling Stone have said that this is Kasbians best album. It's just not very original or something that makes you stop and listen in my opinion but it's definetly an album I can stick on and listen to without getting bored of it. The album has eleven tracks and there is also a deluxe DVD available which has 21 tracks. As far as I am aware there is not a deluxe album available.. bizzare. The album's name is quite a weird one and I am still not completely sure how to pronounce it, but apparently a Velociraptor is a dinosaur.
The album artwork is quite difficult to describe. It's quite unusual but nothing outstandingly eye catching or stunning. It simply has a black and white picture which is pixelated to look like a cartoon. The picture is of Tom Meighan, the band's lead singer. He has his mouth open, as if singing, with the only colour on the artwork been the red of his tounge. The picture is multiplyed and spread around the corners of the album, with each picture been joined by Tom's beard to create a border. If anyone has seen the advert for this album you will know what I mean, but if not then please see the picture that I have uploaded with my review - then you'll know what I am on about. The picture of Tom is quite powerful, he has his eyes scrunched up and it's obvious that the picture is of him mid-verse/singing and he has passion and emotion on his face in my opninion which reflects how much he enjoys singing. This is my personal take of my meaning of the artwork though. The back of the album is very basic, it's white in colour with black font which simply lists the tracklists and has the track number next to each one. The CD itself is black with white outlines of stick people who are all sort of curled up together/attatched to eachother. I definetly think that the design of this album is quite manly/man orientated, it's not the sort of album a girl would see and necessarily like the look of or be drawn to, unless obviously you know of the band prior to seeing the CD in the shops. The album artwork doesn't put me off though, I think in its own way it is quite meaningful but that is just how I interprate the album due to Tom's facial expressions.
Price and Availablity
The Velociraptor! album is quite widely available. It has only just been released so I would be aware that the prices are quite high at the minute, and will probably go down within a few months. The album is available from supermarkets, music shops such as HMV and also from online shops such as iTunes, Play and Amazon. The album can be bought digitally or in physical form. I bought my physical copy from Amazon as this was the cheapest place to get it from when I bought my copy. I paid £7.99 which considering how new the album is I don't think is too expensive. There is also 11 tracks on the album which have a total run time of around 50 minutes so I do think it is worth what I paid. In high street shops the price ranges from £7.99 to around £12. If you are interested in buying this album I would reccomend simply typing the album name into google or popping into your local HMV.
Track 1 Let's Roll Just Like We Used To
Let's Roll Just Like We Used To is the albums opening track. It was a let down, to be blunt. Ironically, they certainlly don't roll just like they used to. The opening of the song was good, it reminded me alot of a vintage beatles pop song, but with edgy instrumentals. The first 47 seconds is quite bizzare and consists of moaning and trumpets. I love the rythm of the guitar and the trumpets and giant gong add an unusual and suprisingly nice feel to the track. It's a song that builds up, giving the impression that it's about to burst into a huge climax of wild vocals and instrumentals, but it just doesn't. I waited and waited, and then by time the song had finished I was still waiting. It is definetly anti-climatic. The lyrics are pretty good but don't 'stick' if you know what I mean. The song tells the story of young and careless kids lounging about in fields, running through graveyards and experimenting with drugs. It's a song in which the singer is basically reminising about the past, and basically wishing he had a purer childhood - "came from the booze and the fags generation". They aren't really the type of lyrics that leave a lasting impression and despite the catchy rythm I just don't think the song works quite as well as it could of. I think this is quite a blokey song, as the vocals are quite cocky and just not that meaningful and despite the good lyrics, the way in which they are spoken just doesn't give them justice. It's a song that has that 'familiar' feel to it and I do actually like it despite the couple of weak lines.
Track 2 Days Are Forgotten
I love the intro of this song - a rythmatic 'ah ah ah ah' - it is the type of intro which really gets you into a song and ready for the explosive vocals and instrumentals which never really materialise, (almost, but not quite) unfortunetly. It's still a good anthem though, it brings back the sound of Kasabian that I know and love - strong vocals, a catchy chorus and back up vocals that put a smile on my face - the back up vocals are cheeky and very 'Gorillaz' sounding. The song is really catchy, it has a groovy feel to it and it's a feel good song in my opinion. It's the type of song that reminds me of a family get together and dad-dancing. The song is quite repetitive but doesn't get annoying - i've listened to this countless times and I am not sick of it yet! The instrumentals can't be faulted with the guitar flowing smoothly and the drums keeping the pace without been overpowering. The subject of the song goes on about a variety of randomness, I can't really make much sense of them but who cares? You'll be too busy singing along and dancing to care about what the song actually means (if anything!)
Track 3 Goodbye Kiss
Well, I think you will of guessed what the song is about from reading the title, and yes you're correct, it is about a break-up. It's a bittersweet kind of song that has a nice mix of vocals and instrumentals that do actually merge together well unlike a majority of the other tracks on this album. I love the guitar riff, it's really unusual sounding. Goodbye kiss is probably one of my favourite songs on the album as it has a nice melody and it's relateable and thought provoking. It is definetly a pop song but it has the potential to be percieved as a sort of love song if you listen to it carefully. Tom's vocals are amazing and you can hear the emotion in his voice. He still has his usual cocky tone but it's toned down alot and almost soothing. This is another of the tracks that reminds me of the Beatles, I think it's the instrumentals more than anything a certain lyrics as well. The song definetly isn't instantly recogniseable as a Kasabian song - if you heard it on the radio I doubt that you Kasabian would instantly spring to mind, but I do think it is one of the best songs on this album, despite how much it feels like they've ripped off an Artic Monkeys song and jazzed it up a bit.
Track 4 La Fee Verte
This is a really nice song, it actually sends chills down my spine. The vocals ooze emotion, and I can't believe that I didn't like it at first - it's definetly grown on me. This is another song which mimics the Beatles but adds a certain something to the whole concept, and it even comes complete with a Lucy in the Sky reference. There's not a huge amount to say about this song. It has a familiar 1960s pop song feel to it and it's a nice song to lie down and listen to. It doesn't really get the adrenalin pumping so isn't the type of Kasabian song that i'd stick on my iPod to get me hyped up for a run, it's more of a meaningful song but has a sort of 'James Bond theme song' edge to it, if that makes sense!
Track 5 Velociraptor!
This is a bizzare but oddly humurous and fun song. As I mentioned before, a Velociraptor is a dinosaur, and I think this song is focused on this fact with lyrics such as "he gonna kill ya, he gonna eat ya, he gonna suck your blood" etc. It's a bit of a silly song - there is pretty much no meaning to it however it's a nicely paced and catchy song which has a bit of a bizzare but fun feel to it. It's definetly a blokey sort of song, the type you'd hear a group of lads singing while they walk home from the pub, but I would reccomend giving it a listen. The instrumentals are pretty epic and I find Tom's vocals quite hot! I think this would be best suited as the intro track as it's the type of song you can't skip, it keeps you sucked in right until the end and even once the song is over it will stick in your mind - it's really catchy!
Track 6 Acid Turkish Bath
I am not really keen on this song. It definetly reminds me of there older work and has a bit of a modern day Led Zepplin inspired sound to it. It mainly consists of heavy instrumentals and guitar riffs and is a bit too hardcore sounding for me. It's the sort of song you would hear at a mosh pit, but has a weird middle eastern sound to it, it's just not great in my opinion and I am not keen on it at all, although everyone has different tastes so you might love it! The lyrics are decent but the vocal tone ruins it for me.
Track 7 I Hear Voices
Hmm.. another one I am not particulary keen on! This song definetly is very electro sounding and sounds like it's an attempt in making the band's genre expand but it just doesn't work. The riff however is really good and makes the song bearable, the vocals are quite agressive as are the lyrics. The song could be so much better if the instrumentals were toned down and the vocals softened because, actually, the lyrics are quite good when you listen to them properly. The song tells the story of a man who is full of regret and battling with his conscience, it's about addiction and the inability to stay faithful. He is frustrated and wishes that he was able to love someone and care about someone other than himself and his own needs.
Track 8 Re-Wired
This has quite a unique, cool sound to it and it's quite modern and fresh. Despite this though I don't like the song. I'm not sure why, it just irritates me, lol. As I said before though everyone has different tastes.
Track 9 Man of Simple Pleasures
I really like this song, the album speak alot of truth and sounds like a song that has personal meaning to it (not to the point of been in depth though!) rather than been about pointless stuff. I love the instrumentals and the vocals are good too. The song is chorus is nice and catchy while the lyrics speak truth and emotion while still been quite cocky and it has a great rythm to it.
Track 10 Switchblade Smiles
The title of this track (Switchblade Smiles) put me off listening to it. The title is so cliche and reminds me of a song that Blink 182 would write, however it is actually quite good - it's bearable, anyway! It reminds me alot of The Prodigy, with the drums and a heavy, distorted bass. It's definetly the most rock sounding song on the album and doesn't have a very indie feel to it and it's not a very in depth or meaningful song either, but the brief harmonies do make it that bit better. It's a bit of a mess of a song to be honest with so much going on, it's quite hard to listen to all the way through in my opinion.
Track 11 Neon Noon
This is a really good song and a great end to the album. It's a nice song to relax to with in depth and more serious lyrics. It's quite a moving song and has a nice calm feel to it and I love the chord progressions they use. It's the sort of song that leaves you feeling satisfied, so it's a brilliant outro track.
The album definetly is not perfect, and at points I felt slightly bored, however a few of the songs are brilliant and certian lines and the way the vocals are said really stick with you. This isn't an album for everyone, it's almost certianly not the sort of album a fan of Taylor Swift and Beyonce would enjoy, however despite a few weak songs, it has got a good overall sound and it's definetly worth a listen to.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Let's Roll Just Like We Used To
2 Days Are Forgotten
3 Goodbye Kiss
4 La FÃ©e Verte
6 Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter From the Storm)
7 I Hear Voices
8 Re - wired
9 Man of Simple Pleasures
10 Switchblade Smiles
11 Neon Noon