So its been a long time since my last post (April 15th to be exact).  So I decided to start a new segment about something that I am passionate about, music.  So here is the first in what I hope is a long line of Bands you should know!

So for the first installment of my Bands You Should segment, I am featuring one of my favorite UK bands that most people haven’t heard of.  Kasabian.  I first heard Kasabian back in 2005, the first time I went over the pond to London with my now wife.  We took a train to Guildford where we were picked up by her cousin.  As we drove through the Guildford streets to his place (where I would drink Guinness for Guinness with him for about 5 hours, till our train back) I heard a band that was unique, it was like nothing I had heard before, a mix of rock, electronic and 60’s pyschedelia, it was something that I wouldn’t have thought that I would like, but I did and it sounded great and had great guitar work and bass lines.  So I asked who it was and was told that it was Kasabian.  I should’ve bought the CD there when I had the chance, when I got back I couldn’t find it and ended up buying their self titled debut CD from Rhapsody.
Kasabian did have brief exposure in the US.  The first track, Club Foot, off of the debut album was used in Pontiac commercials, I believe for the Australian built GTO (Holden Monaro) and I believe it was also used in an episode of Alias.  Other songs from the album also made it to the videogame world.  Still they never quite got the recognition I thought they deserved. They’ve gotten some US recognition over the years and just recently played at the Coachella Music Festival, but still haven’t qiute taken off, which is why I’m writing this, I hopefully can at least get a few of you to check them out.  So now onto the band.
Kasabian was formed in 1997 in Leicester England by Tom Meighan, Chris Edwards and Sergio Pizzorno.  Meighan was the lead vocalist, Pizzorno was backing vocals and guitar and Edwards was bass.  At the time of formation, they had another lead guitarist, Christopher Karloff, who left in 2006 and was replaced by Jay Mehler.  Kasabian also used a whole list of studio drummers, until 2004 when Ian Matthews became the full time drummer.  As of now, May 2012, the lineup is Meighan, Edwards, Pizzorno, Mehler and Matthews.
Back in 1997 before they were Kasabian, they were called Saracuse, at this point they started recording at a studio in Leicester where Edwards was an engineer, Bedrock Studios.  The first public appearance they made was at the Viper Rugby Club, playing for Edwards own 18th birthday, soon after they were being noticed and decided to change their name.  The name they chose was Kasabian, it was a name that Karloff picked up while researching Charles Manson.  Linda Kasabian was his getaway driver.  For some reason Karloff thought the word sounded good and it stuck with him and the rest of the band.

Kasabian 2004

Their self titled debut album, Kasabian, was released in 2004 to generally positive reviews and good sales.  They have been described as being a cross of Primal Scream and the Stone Roses, I can hear the influences there, but to me they’re a bit more psychedelic and electronic then the other two acts.  During the recording of Kasabian the band decided to live in a farmhouse by Rutland Water so they could concentrate on the album undisturbed.  At this point Kasabian still didn’t have a full time drummer, they used various drummers including their current keyboard player, Ben Kealey on drums.  While they were recording in Bristol they met Ian Matthews who played on a few songs on the debut, notably Processed Beats, Beneficial Herbs and Butcher Blues.  When they decided to tour, they asked Matthews to stay, and he’s been with them ever since.  Tracks of of the album have been in numerous movies, commercials, TV shows and video games.  My most notable tracks off of the album are Club Foot, Processed Beats, Reason is Treason, L.S.F, Test Transmission, Cut Off and Butcher Blues.

Empire 2006

Kasabians 2nd album, Empire was released in August of 2006.  The band faced some issues during the recording of Empire, which eventually lead to the departure of Karloff, who was one of the main songwriters.  It was announced on their website that he had left due to creative differences.  Even so, he had contributed to at least three of the songs on Empire.  When asked why Empire in an article in NME, Tom Meighan said “Empire is a word used by the band to describe something good”.  The recording of Empire took a mere two weeks, allegedly while on tour with Oasis.  Empire was received well also and hit number 1 on the UK Albums Chart.  While not my favorite album, I thought Empire was good, it showed growth in the group along with the growth of their music and it did have some good tracks.  My notable tracks from Empire are Empire, Shoot the Runner, Sun/Rise/Light/Flies, and By My Side.

West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum 2009

While the third release, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum wasn’t released until 2009, there were signs of things to come when two tracks, Fast Fuse and Thick as Thieves were released on an EP in 2007.  The EP didn’t get much promotion, if any so no one really knew what was coming in 2009.
West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum was Kasabians first album without Karloff as head writer, for this release Pizzorno took over and did a fabulous job.  This is the first Kasabian album that has a theme throughout also.  The name comes from a group of mental institutions that were constructed in the 1880’s across West Yorkshire England.  When asked by NME on June 12th 2009 why it was chosen as the title, Pizzorno said “The album isn’t about the place, I just heard it on a TV documentary, and the words just struck me.  I love the way it looked and the feeling it evokes.”  In another interview, with T4, the band mentioned that each track of the album is meant to represent a different inmate within the asylum.   Once again, they debuted at number one with West Ryder.
To me this was and is a great album, right up there with the first and far above Empire.  While I thought Empire showed growth in themselves and their sound, West Ryder shows another level of writing and musicality.  The basslines, keyboards, drums and even the guitar parts are to me more complex and the production is great.  This album to me sounds like it should’ve came out in the late 60’s early 70’s.  There are still hints of Empire and Kasabian in it, but its truly a great album.  My notable tracks are Underdog, Swarfiga, Fast Fuse, Take Aim, Thick as Thieves (which my father says reminds him of a McCartney tune a bit because of the begining melody), Vlad the Imaler, Secret Alphabets (which has a great bassline) and Fire.

Velociraptor! 2011

Work on Velociraptor, Kasabians fourth release, began in late 2010.  It was the second album written and composed by pizzorno. The first track released from the album was Switchblade Smiles.  It was made available as a free download for people that pre ordered the album from their own website.  It was also made available on the Kasabian facebook page as a free download.

Once again the new album continued to show growth and excellent writing.  The sound and style changed a little from the previous albums, but still has that 60’s and 70’s feel to it.  The album garnered critical acclaim with Antiquiet giving it 4 1/2 stars out of 5 while saying “Kasabian has found a way to channel everything you love about The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Radiohead while still keeping the unique sound that sets them apart from the contemporaries like Coldplay, Muse and The Killers.” and NME saying “Kasabian have lived up to expectations and believe the album is a huge step up from their previous albums.”

For me Velociraptor was definitely a good album, to me I think West Ryder was a bit better but still Velociraptor is a solid album with some really good tracks that makes me look forward to whatever Kasabian has coming in the future.  for me the best tracks on this one are Lets Roll Just Like We Used To, Days are Forgotten, Velociraptor!, Acid Turkish Bath (shelter from the storm) which is kind of an epic, I Hear Voices (which has a bit of 80’s synth pop in it) and Re-Wired.

Conclusion

For me there are few bands out there than can combine everything from psychedelic  60’s and 70’s rock all the way up to 80’s synth pop and get away with it.  Kasabian can.  They can hold their own with any of the big names out there today.  Their sound is different from anything I’ve heard in a while and unique.  They have great bass lines, guitar work and solid vocals and lyrically they get better every album.  I highly recommend checking them out.  I would start with the self titled release Kasabian and work your way up.  Check them out at their website www.kasabian.co.uk , http://www.vevo.com/artist/kasabian or at the online music store of your choice. You’ll hear the progression in their music from the begining to the end and it’s a musical trip well worth taking, your ears will thank you.  So give them a shot and thanks for reading!

-john

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