Music

The King Blues: Save the World, Get the Girl

David Smith

A collection of songs that are bright and fully-rounded that never once try to be any more than what they are.


The King Blues

Save the World, Get the Girl

Label: Island
UK Release Date: 2008-10-20
US Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

Why it took punk 15 years to make an impact on America after its 1977 UK peak with the Sex Pistols and the Clash is a mystery. Maybe it was the unmistakable Britishness of the movement? Or perhaps while England’s working classes tackled the four-day week, high unemployment and the dawning of Thatcherism and needed a new music genre to echo the social frustration, middle America just had nothing to really rebel against? Or could it have been the stranglehold of disco was just too tight?

After the grunge revolution reintroduced punk to a new generation, the doors were wide open for bands like Rancid and Green Day to embrace it, citing the likes of the aforementioned Clash and Ireland’s Stiff Little Fingers as major influences, yet despite most American punk bands of the '90s being indebted to UK punk, it never really translated back again to the UK.

However, in a new decade where ‘authentic’-sounding bands like the Strokes and the White Stripes have made US alternative music influenced by '70s punk internationally popular, perhaps it’s time for the UK’s answer? Okay, so we’ve had the Libertines’ take on the Strokes’ garage sound, albeit with a twist of Albion idealism -- but what about a UK Rancid?

Enter the King Blues. With a Clash-esque sound filtered through US punk rock, they’ve taken the liberty of adding plenty of acoustic guitars to the mix, as well as 21st century London speak, almost akin to Jamie T. In a word, they sound like the Chavs. But where the likes of Hard Fi have already injected social commentary and a cockney twang into otherwise pretty anodyne indie-rock songs, Save the World, Get the Girl goes one step further and gives us a collection of songs that are bright and fully-rounded that never once try to be any more than what they are. Best of the bunch is the title track: With an acoustic ska backbeat, singer Jonny Fox tells a tale of the disillusionment many feel when it comes to our leaders. At times he explicitly tells us what we’re all thinking, pointing out that, “Going to war / To prevent war / Was the most stupid thing ever heard.”

Further on, the band asks, "What If Punk Never Happened?" And over a trippy hip-hop beat they paint a picture of pre-1976 UK life, and how it’d translate today. It demonstrates the King Blues’ ability to not take themselves too seriously, both lyrically and their musically. While “For You My Darling” (a sickly, drawn-out love story over an out-of-place accordion) and “Underneath This Lamppost Light” (a contrived ballad made up of processed beats) prove to be low points, when they stick to their carefree-acoustic punk -- on “Boulder”, “The Streets Are Ours” and “Let’s Hang the Landlord” -- the King Blues prove a real joy. Despite the very British subject matter of most of the songs here, Save the World, Get the Girl is an album to be enjoyed equally on both sides of the pond.

7

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image