New Music: Janelle Monae, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon and Arcade Fire


Two Albums Worth the Hype

CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe

Chvrches - The Bones of What You BelieveTeeming with 80s synthesizers and pulsing bass beats, the debut album of the Glasgow trio CHVRCHES is eminently danceable and will have you moving from beginning to end. But there is something solitary about CHRVCHES’ music underlying the sweet voice of lead singer Lauren Mayberry—a will to be lost in a crowd to escape the weight of identity.

The feeling clearly resonates with the band’s following here in the Twin Cities as CHVRCHES went from filling the Fine Line Music Café back on June 8 to selling out the main room at the historic First Avenue on September 9—an impressive feat considering the album’s U.S. release was on September 24.

The Bones of What You Believe is an album for those nights when you need to pull yourself out of a hole and wash the dirt of self-pity off. It’s an album of overcoming the insecurities that sit in the pit of the stomach and mustering the courage to say, “I’m feeling capable of seeing the end / I’m feeling capable of saying it’s over.”

At times sorrowful and often aggressive, The Bones of What You Believe is a show of bravura by a band ready to prove they can live up to the hype buzzing around them. In romantic relationships, as well as the music industry, you need a confidence founded in persistence to make it work. When Martin Doherty sings on “Under the Tide,” with the music rising to its anthemic chorus, “Head up, head up / And stay strong / Holding your head up, head up / Keep holding, holding,” it’s evident CHVRCHES has that confidence in spades.

Related Post: Tuned In Brewed In from Way Back in August-September 2013

Kings of Leon, Mechanical Bull

Kings of Leon - Mechanical BullFive years after the success of their Grammy award-winning album Only by the Night featuring rock ballads “Use Somebody” and “Sex on Fire,” and two years after the band went on an indefinite hiatus following an incident in which lead singer Caleb Followill walked off stage, Kings of Leon have returned with Mechanical Bull.

Recorded in the band’s new studio in their hometown of Nashville, Mechanical Bull is an attempt to return to the band’s roots founded in spirited southern rock with a raw country twang. The lead track “Supersoaker” charges in with a fury of guitar and drums and Caleb Followill’s gritty vocals have the joyous enthusiasm we heard on the band’s earlier work.

They sound like they are having fun again making music—the kind of fun they had on Aha Shake Heartbreak—and the music is better for it. Rock standouts “Family Tree,” “Don’t Matter,” and “Rock City” are more home in a Nashville Honky Tonk than a massive arena filled with smoke and lightshows. Even ballads like “On the Chin” feel grounded in the band’s southern identity, something that was desperately missing from their recent work.

Mechanical Bull brings the Followill family back to the band they started in 1999, but it also brings together those Kings of Leon fans hungry for the southern soul embodied on their debut album Youth and Young Manhood. For anyone questioning if they “still got it,” Kings of Leon delivers with Mechanical Bull.

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About Brian Kaufenberg

Brian Kaufenberg is the editor-in-chief of The Growler Magazine.

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