Two years ago, when Kick Up The Fire released their self-titled debut ep, I boldly suggested that they could take 2011 by storm.
Well it’s 2012 and they’ve only just got round to releasing their follow-up effort. Can’t win them all, eh?
Happily, the band’s sophomore effort is more than worth the wait. ‘Money Men’ is a tightly honed record, with each track as well produced and catchy as the last. Much like on their debut ep, the band still retain a slow-burning style, which may not knock your socks off at first, but gradually worms its way into your mind.
Lead singer Kenny Wastell’s lyrics are a big reason for this, with clever turns of phrase as he poetically skewers lad-mag culture on opening track ‘Loaded’. The more rhythmic guitars help to create a danceable tempo, and the lead guitar licks on ‘Spiders’ add plenty of flair.
‘Takeover’ is possibly the best of the bunch, acting as a passionate call-to-arms for disenchanted commuters and office drones, while ‘White Cube’ draws proceedings to a close with quirky rhythms and incongruous brass, much in the vein of Biffy Clyro (circa ‘Infinity Land’).
The only real criticism to be made is that the band don’t make as much of the call and response vocals that worked so well on their last record, which is a shame.
But it must be said ‘Money Men’ feels like a more coherent and polished effort, it proves their worth as one of the UK’s most exciting prospects, and at just 12 minutes long it will leave you crying out for more.
You can read more about Kick Up The Fire on their hilariously foul-mouthed blog, and if you head to their Bandcamp page before Monday 30 July, you can download their debut ep for free.
With their first major label record, The Gaslight Anthem have gone all-out to live up to their name, delivering 11 truly anthemic tracks that fuse Bruce Springsteen-esque vocals, hard rock riffs and raw, honest emotion.
Produced by the double-Grammy winning Brendan O’Brien and with the backing of Mercury Records, their fourth studio album should see the New Jersey quartet reach an even wider audience in 2012.
Leading off with the current radio-hogging single ’45’, Brian Fallon and co set a dizzying tempo; with sing-alongs and crunching guitars in abundance. Staying true to his promise, Fallon has delivered a much more aggressive album, which contrasts strongly with his sombre 2011 side-project The Horrible Crowes.
Benny Horowitz and Alex Levine provide a solid, driving rhythm section as always, but more noticeable is how Alex Rosamilia’s lead guitar has developed into one of the band’s biggest strengths. Whereas before his licks sounded ornate and elaborate, on this record they are far more central to the overall sound, particularly on ‘Keepsake’, a lip-biting stomp that will have you fighting the urge to crack out the air guitar.
Elsewhere, the album slips in a wide range of cultural references, from the suitably cinematic ‘Mulholland Drive’, to the joyous ‘whoa’s of Allen Ginsberg tribute ‘Howl’ (which would make an excellent follow-up single) while ‘Here Comes My Man’ is a clever nod to the Pixies.
Read the rest of this review on Virgin Red Room click here.