It’s time for some new music, as entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out recent releases from noise merchants At The Drive-In, indie-popsters Kasabian, gothic prince Nick Cave and American rockers Thomas Wynn and the Believers.
New Album from a Reformed Artist
At The Drive-In: in*ter a*li*a
Originally formed in El Paso, Texas, in 1994 by guitarist Jim Ward and singer Cedric Bixler, At The Drive-In have had something of a rocky journey. Experiencing multiple line-up changes in the early days, the band were only together for six years before breaking up in 2001, but only after appearing at the 2001 Big Day Out and calling the Australian crowd “robots and sheep” and leaving the stage after performing only three songs.
Proponents of a lo fi, post-hardcore approach, the band’s debut 1996 album Acrobatic Tenement was reportedly recorded for under $600. The band built up a loyal following via an endless tour schedule of small venues and basements, honing their sound even as relationships within the band began to fracture. Sophomore album In/Casino/Out was released in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2000’s Relationship of Command that the band experienced mainstream success with the caustic single One Armed Scissor.
Blaming the breakup on a combination of drug use and artistic differences, At the Drive-In split into The Mars Volta and Sparta, taking the band’s heavy sound in different directions. While Sparta continued to travel the post-hardcore path, The Mars Volta took inspiration from Pink Floyd and embraced Prog Rock. Eventually, both of these bands sort of fizzled out, and At The Drive-In reunited in 2012 to a rapturous response at mega-festival Coachella. Then they broke up again.
Having recently reformed (again), without founding member Jim Ward, it is unsurprising that the music on In*ter a*li*a is a little disjointed. While there are definitely some decent tracks here and there, the overall listening experience is somewhat disappointing, as you can’t help wonder how good the album might sound if the band could stay together for more than five minutes.
Standout tracks: No Wolf Like the Present, Incurably Innocent
Sample lyric: ‘It’s open seasons, check the body cam.’ (No Wolf Like the Present)
Verdict: 7/10 — not bad, but would probably sound better live.
New Album from an Old Artist
Kasabian: For Crying Out Loud
Formed in Leicester, England in 1997, Kasabian is one of the few bands to be named ‘Best Act in the World Today’ by Q Magazine not once, but twice. A distinctly British band, Kasabian have been described as being like a cross between Primal Scream and The Stone Roses, with a little bit of Oasis thrown in for good measure.
After releasing their self-titled debut in 2004, Kasabian rose to international acclaim with third album, 2009’s West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. The buzz started with "leaked" single 'Fast Fuze', as the band displayed new depths and a growing fascination with psychedelia. Subsequent releases Velociraptor! (2011) and 48:13 (2014) weren’t quite as earthshaking and, while the band remained popular in the UK, they struggled to break into the lucrative U.S. market.
New album For Crying Out Loud probably won’t do much to change this situation, as the band remains defiantly British — like The Kinks after half a dozen pints of Pimm's and lemonade. Taking this into account, if you’re a fan of old-school Britpop, you’ll probably find something to like. From the jaunty, off-kilter pop of 'You’re In Love with a Psycho' to the sleazy 'Are You Looking For Action', Kasabian follow the proud British tradition of writing cuttingly insightful songs about normal people.
With influences from The Beatles and Joy Division, For Crying Out Loud is the perfect album for those who long for the days when cheeky chappies singing about country houses dominated the charts. If you don’t care for Britpop, you should probably move on...
Standout tracks: Bless This Acid House, You’re In Love with a Psycho, Fast Fuze (live)
Sample lyric: 'I swear they’re never gonna break you, gotta hold on tight.' (Bless This Acid House)
Verdict: 8/10 — well worth a listen for fans of the genre
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Lovely Creatures
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are an Australian institution. Formed back in 1983 by Cave, guitarist Blixa Bargeld, and multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey, the band rose from the ashes of Cave and Harvey’s former group The Birthday Party. Debut album From Her to Eternity was released the following year, opening with a cover of the Leonard Cohen classic 'Avalanche', which pretty much set the tone for the Bad Seeds career.
Nick Cave writes serious songs about serious topics. 'The Mercy Seat' (covered spectacularly by Johnny Cash) is about the electric chair, 'Do You Love Me?' is about stalking and, in 1996, the band released Murder Ballads, featuring the hugely successful Kylie Minogue duet 'Where The Wild Roses Grow'. Lovely Creatures includes all of these songs and many, many more. The album is available as a double CD, a triple LP or a triple CD and DVD, if you’re a lifetime fan of black hair dye and trenchcoats.
A talented songwriter whose life has been touched by tragedy, Cave has a singular ability to capture the emotions of love and loss. He also has the innate ability to channel a psychopath, as demonstrated in the harrowing Australian movie Ghosts of the Civil Dead. He’s also a talented screenwriter, as evidenced by the 2005 film, The Proposition, a decidedly bleak movie about late 19th century Australia.
If you’re looking for something breezy to play on a Sunday afternoon, Lovely Creatures probably isn’t the best choice, but if you’re looking for an accompaniment to red wine and candlelight, this is definitely the album for you.
Standout tracks: The Ship Song, Into My Arms, Do You Love Me, Red Right Hand
Sample lyric: 'I don’t believe in an interventionist god, but I know darling that you do.' (Into My Arms)
Verdict: 8/10 — more Nick Cave than any balanced person could possibly want.
Ch-check it Out…
Thomas Wynn & The Believers – Wade Waist Deep
Growing up in Orlando, Florida, Thomas Wynn and his sister Olivia started their musical life singing and playing guitar in church — encouraged at home by their father Tom Wynn, drummer of country rockers Cowboy. After forming the Wynn Brothers Band (with brother Jordan on bass and father Tom on drums), Thomas and Olivia decided to go it alone, forming Thomas Wynn and the Believers in 2009.
Described by Soundboard as ‘Southern Rock Muscle’, Thomas Wynn and the Believers sound like a born-again Black Crowes — the constant spectre of the almighty cleaning up any dirt in their Southern rock. There are some nice harmonies and a few barn-stompers here and there, but you get the distinct impression that this is the sort of music that the head of Hillsong rocks out to over a glass of chilled white wine.
It’s not clear quite why Thomas gets his name in the band title while co-lead singer Olivia remains unmentioned, but that may have to do with the band’s religious origins… a man wrote the Bible, don’t you know.
Standout tracks: Wade Waist Deep, You Can’t Hurt Me
Sample lyric: 'I was up in the clouds, I fell down to earth.’ (You Can’t Hurt Me)
Verdict: 6/10 — good if you like your Southern rock without any of those nasty satanic undertones.
Enjoy what you've just read? John Turnbull's books are now available on Amazon and Kindle. Take a journey deep into the disturbed psyche behind columns including Screen Themes, Think For Yourself, New Music Through Old Ears and JT on NXT. There’s supernatural thriller, Damnation’s Flame; action/romance, Reaper; black comedy, City Boy; and travel guidebook, Bar Trek: Europe.
Damnation's Flame by John Turnbull is also available in the IA store HERE. (Free postage!)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
Subscribe to IA. Sweet, sweet music.