Wow. It seems like an awfully long time since the last Kula
in fact, it's been about nine years since
their last easily available domestic release. In the meanwhile
they've released a couple of EPs available only as imports to
us Yanks. They've been good records, maintaining the classic Kula
sound, defying new movements in rock, defying radical change.
The newest release Strange Folk is certainly no exception.
The album starts off in high Brit fashion with the amazingly
groovy and jangly "Out On The Highway". The song reminds
us of where Kula Shaker comes from, recalling the grooves of the
mid-90's Britpop sounds of contemporaries like The Stone Roses
and Happy Mondays. The band has seemingly forsaken the
obvious Indian influences of their early work in favor of a more
mainstream approach, but that idea would be dispelled by one listen
to "Second Sight". This track screams with guitars and
rhythms reminiscent of great Santana records, melodies
straight out of the 60's psychedelic movement, and some sitar-like
sounds that become instantly catchy. "Die For Love"
is an epic ballad filled with Hammond organ and deliberate guitar/piano
rhythms that recall Bob Dylan at his Band-inspired
electric fineness. "Great Dictator Of The Free World"
is a sparser, but highly rhythmic track that almost fits into
the new Jam-centric Ukpop movement, but has more hook and
gleam than any young band could muster. It's when the album finally
arrives at "Song Of Love/Narayana" that the listener
is treated to the fully realized sound that has made Kula Shaker
so beloved through the years. There are catchy bass lines that
groove with all their might, alongside perfect arrangements and
drums with the unmistakable Madchester rhythm, that all buoy up
Indian choruses and brightly produced vocal harmonies that undoubtedly
prove that Kula Shaker has not faded, but remains at the head
of the Britpop pack.
So, write to your congressman and let him know you vote and you
vote Kula Shaker. Let Cooking Vinyl know that you appreciate how
they've finally brought the classic Britpop cool of Kula back
to these American shores for under 25 dollars. Let The Charlatans
know that they're not alone and that there is still another band
of Englishmen making some amazingly fine rock. And finally, let
Kula Shaker know that you still believe in them and their awesome
I know I do.
e-mail the chief
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