“Education, Education, Education & War” – Kaiser Chiefs / “Cope” – Manchester Orchestra

Image

English indie rockers Kaiser Chiefs are back with their fifth studio album, titled Education, Education, Education & War. Many critics compare the repetitive album title to the repetitive nature of its tracks when compared to the band’s earlier work. Speaking as a casual fan who really likes the group’s older number one hit, “Ruby,” and not much else, I cannot quite speak from experience and say whether or not I agree with these critics. Nevertheless, I feel this album is something fresh and listenable, and the production has definitely been stepped up a notch or two.

As with most Kaiser Chiefs songs, these tunes give off a whiff of post-punk revival, much like The Fratellis or The Hives. The political, revolutionist undertones can be at bit much by the end of the album (see “The Factory Gates,” “Bows & Arrows,” “Cannons,” etc.), but the Chiefs throw in a lot of different sounds to at least try and break this up. “Misery Company” is a stomping good time (with two, count ’em, TWO guitar solos), while “Meanwhile Up In Heaven” is a big new wave throwback. “Cannons” is a six-minute song with only four minutes of actual song because of the spoken word prose poem at the end of the track. I’m sure the poem would be very interesting on its own, but it definitely feels out of place on this album.

Overall, Education, Education, Education & War succeeds as a straight rock album. Standard alt rock tracks like “Coming Home” (the first US single off the record) and “My Life” keep the album going amid some awkward political and poetic experiments. It’s good to hear that Kaiser Chiefs are still going strong after fourteen years or so, but don’t expect any sparks of originality with the new release.

-Joe MacPhee

Recommended Jams: Coming Home, Misery Company, My Life

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Image

I always thought Manchester Orchestra were one of those bands with a frontman donning a big ol’ mountain man beard. Then I looked up a picture of the band online and found out that I was right. Just thought I’d share that tidbit. Ok, moving on.

Manchester Orchestra return with studio album number four, Cope, as their album cover so artistically points out. Don’t let the boring artwork give you any false perceptions about the music itself though. There are some seriously heavy tracks here. The press release for the record really hit the nail on the head when it described the collection of songs as an “unrelenting and unapologetically heavy 38 minutes of rock.” Fans who were disappointed with some of the sparse, boring tracks off the group’s last album, Simple Math, will be more than satisfied with Cope.

Manchester Orchestra lay the sludge on thick on tracks like “Top Notch,” “The Mansion,” and ESPECIALLY on the album closer, title track “Cope.” Hell, it’s practically sludge metal. They never overdo it though; the crunch is always just as powerful as it needs to be. Despite the extensive grunge atmosphere of the record, some other sounds are mixed in to keep the album a little more varied. “Indentions” is actually more of a rock ballad with a subtle synth lead. The spot-on harmonies on this and other more toned down tracks on Cope are also tastefully done and mix in well. The fuzzy opening guitar lead on “Trees” is perhaps my personal favorite part of the album, especially when it then rips into an epic-sounding riff before frontman Andy Hull takes over: “I used to feel some guilt / Now I just feel empty.” Oof.

After an album of mostly throwaway tracks, it’s great to see Manchester Orchestra returning to what they do best on Cope: making incredibly heavy, yet incredibly enjoyable music.

-JM

Recommended Jams: The Mansion, Every Stone, Trees, Cope

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: