Albums of 2007: #3 – 1

White Stripes – Icky Thump

White Stripes - Icky Thump

Jack and Meg return with this absolute cracker of an album which never fails to be boring. It culminates the influences of the previous 2 albums and rounds them perfectly into a fine lesson in blues, pop and experimental. Jack still can easily transform the simplist guitar licks into distinctive White Stripes melodys all with the resoundingly massive drums of Meg providing the backbone.

Title track Icky Thump is a beast of an opening track and is amongst the heaviest on this album. The simple yet catchy as hell riff laced with stangely compelling organ solo’s throws down the gauntlet for all to come. Another fine classic track follows in the shape of You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As Your Told) with more bluesy stripes coming from their top draw. I’m not going to forget to mention tio sheer guitar brutality of Bone Break with rapidfire jack vocals adding the enegy and enthusiasm. So many are the top tracks i’ll just mention the rest… classic stripes blues on Catch Hell Blues, eardrum crashing Little Cream Soda and the celtic flavoured St. Andrew (This Battle is in the Air).

Never to be dull a couple of tracks are very different and experimental. My favourite of these has to be Conquest which is more of a soundtrack to a Mexican Western more than a song with its latino horns, towering bass drums and storytelling lyrics. More storys are told between Jack and Meg on Rag and Bone with multiple vocal breakdowns between the thumping thrashed chords.

This is one of the most distinctive and essential works The White Stripes have produced to date. The rock is back with avengence and has incorperated the organs so prominant on Get Behind Me Satan with fine grace. Miss this album and most definitely miss out!

Black Stone Cherry – Black Stone Cherry

Black Stone Cherry

Black Stone Cherry are a new band and their eponymous debut album is a classic rock well… classic! Hailing from the southern states of america, thier homeland blues influences are all worn on the sleave and given a reworking with some hard hitting guitars with bounding adolecent energy.

Lead track Rain Wizard sets the standard and this awesome riff drives the track which is matched in its awesomeness by the firecracker drumming and vast vocals. So many of the tracks on this album reach these standards with the fearlessly amazing drum-fest on Crosstown Woman, vocal heroism on Shooting Star, the metal inflexed effect drenched Blackwoods Gold and hard hitting frenzied Maybe Someday.

There is not a poor song on this album and listens like a homage to all things blues and hard rock! The blues makes appearances on the album too with a fantastic cover version of The Yardbirds Tired Of The Rain and also the melodic almost Thin Lizzy-esque riffing on Hell & High Water.

Musically each member excels from blisteringly awe inspiring rythmn guitars and solos, pounding bass guitars and some of the finest drumming this side of Dave Grohl. Seeing these guys live was a treat like no other and this album is exactly the same. Fantastic right from the start these guys truely deserved their Classic Rock Magazine award for Best New Band 2007!

Sit Back throw the amps up to 11 and revel in the Classic Classic Rock of Black Stone Cherry!!

Kings Of Leon – Because Of The Times

Kings Of Leon - Because Of The Times

Three albums in and they have risen from little known us southern rockers to fully fledged kings of indie who are on course to become one of the biggest bands in the world. On the strength of this album this global invasion is not far away!

Because of the Times is beautifully melodic and has some amazing atmospheric ambience without sacrificing the songwriting. Opening track Knocked up has one probably the simplist guitar riff of 2007, but those three harmonic notes haunt the downbeat track and echo perfectly over the rambling rhythmn guitar. Lyrically it covers a pregancy and the reluctance to listen to parents and keep the child, quite heavy stuff really, but its so poignant that this has become a firm favourite of mine. Keeping on the downbeat mellow track for a while the lead single On Call is another graceful track with its own dramatic eerie lurking vocals and minamalist Pixies-esque bass riff. When the guitars strike they are murky and steeped in charm. Fans see’s vocalist Caleb on his strained southern best with his amazing vocals acompanying yet another understated but deftly crafted guitar sections.

KoL not only apply mood and evoke emotion like kings but they havent lost their swagger either. Proving they can still rock with the best, McFearless employs effect heavy melodys wedged between crunching power chords. Charmer takes another leaf out of The Pixies book of songwriting of soft soft loud and simple bass lines mixed with throat shattering vocals and exploratory guitar breakdowns. Black Thumbnail is probably the most rocking out there is to be had on this album, and believe me it’s a whole lot of fun! Slowly chugging guitars wind up into a burning fire of fuzzed up noise made to get your head a bopping.

Because of the Times is the Kings of Leon’s best album to date and sits deservedly atop of this list…truly amazing record which hasnt left my playlist all year with it’s subtle mix of mellowness, atmospheric melodic guitars, deep south vocals, driving bass and rawking riffs.

Roll on 2008!!

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