Music review by Matt Crowley/The AS Review
Winter is on its way, but there are plenty of new releases from high-profile stadium-rockers Kings of Leon to local ska-enthusiasts Yogoman Burning Band to at least keep our ears warm while the rest of us stays frozen solid.
Kings of Leon – “Come Around Sundown”
The Followill family has returned for their fifth full-length album, coming off the heels of their platinum-certified, Grammy-nominated “Only by the Night.” Although the band’s success and fan base has certainly changed since they burst onto the scene 10 years ago, the sound has stayed the same for the most part. The country-alt-rock stylings of Kings of Leon is what drew fans and critics alike to them in the first place; 2003’s “Youth and Young Manhood,” along with their 2004 follow-up, “Aha Shake Heartbreak,” ended up being a refreshing beam of light in an otherwise bland rock scene. Critics praised the band’s garage rock-southern hybrid sound, and soon enough, Kings of Leon became one of the first indie bands to make it big.
“Come Around Sundown,” released Oct. 19 in North America, is a 47-minute arena-ready album that, while not offering up anything new, provides plenty of grinding guitar lines and expertly layered tracks (Thanks to producers Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King.) for seasoned fans to feast on. But like I said, there’s not a lot new here. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; Bono and the rest of U2 have been riding their anthemic song collection for decades now (with no sign of stopping), and The Rolling Stones managed to go on what felt like endless reunion tours despite the fact that they released two albums in the last 15 years. Staying the course isn’t a bad thing in music if you have the right sound, and Kings of Leon’s massive international following proves they do. If you like Kings of Leon, you’re going to like “Come Around Sundown.” If you’re looking for something fresh … move along.
Kid Cudi – “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager”
Everyone’s favorite weed-smoking, flannel-wearing, uber-collaborative hipster rapper is back! Only a little more than a year after “Man on the Moon: The End of Day,” which spawned the successful singles “Pursuit of Happiness” and “Make Her Say,” the Cleveland-born rapper has returned for another album of (pick one) stoner-tailored/spacey/party-worthy/deeply contemplative tracks.
While “Man on the Moon” was a smash hit, surprising considering its indie-leanings and full-fledged concept album status, his second offering might not be, but for good reason. While “The Legend of Mr. Rager” lacks the dance-floor ready bangers of its predecessor (see “Day N’ Nite”), it brings a heavier, darker sound, one that tailors to Cudi’s characteristic drone we all know so well. Tracks “Marijuana” (Surprised?) and “Maybe” carry the same philosophical leanings that all of his stuff does, this time accompanied by slow, driving percussion, string sections and electro-heavy backing. You’re not going to be bouncing off the walls when you listen to “Man on the Moon II.”
This is an album that you really listen to, one that begs to be picked apart and listened to over and over. It’s going to have to grow on you, but once it does …
Yogoman Burning Band – “Beam Me Up!”
Yogoman Burning Band is one of those groups that even if you’re not totally into the Bellingham music scene, you’ve probably heard of them. If not, go check them out. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
For their third and most recent album, “Beam Me Up!,” Yogoman enlisted the help of their fans to make it a reality using the site kickstarter.com, which allows users to donate money to others for projects, businesses or other investments they find worthwhile. An outpouring of support allowed the group to release the album earlier this fall.
With “Beam Me Up!” fans will certainly be getting their money’s worth. The production values are stellar, giving each and every instrument the punch it needs to be a part the hectic soundscape that is ska. But Yogoman isn’t all fun-and-games; songs like “What’s There In Space” and “Sri Hacha” highlight the band’s ska background while also showcasing some new tricks the band has picked up since 2009’s “City of Subdued Excitement.”