Renowned for Sound | Album Review: Kula Shaker – K 2.0

Published On February 28, 2016 | By Michael Smith | Albums, Music

It’s no secret that Kula Shaker toned their sound down after their return to music in 2007. While their first two albums were heavily draped with Indian influences, both Strangefolk and Pilgrims Progress opted for something more friendly to the masses, yet retaining some of their spirit in some key moments. K 2.0, however, is something of a return to form: Fittingly titled to follow the style of their 1996 debut album K, the Indian influence has found its way back, and so have Kula Shaker.

Kula Shaker Kula 2.0The heavy Indian influence on K 2.0 sits comfortably on top of its base of rock and folk music. While songs like the introductory Infinite Sun completely cover themselves with the sound of sitars and ethnic percussion, there’s an equal number of tracks that carry none of these at all. The fusion of styles is handled expertly, only rarely feeling out of place, and recalling the energy and quality of Kula Shaker’s earlier efforts. The infectious Britpop of Love B (with U) smartly relies on its riffs and looping melodies to hook listeners and Death of Democracy uses its bouncy structure to cover a more serious subject matter while retaining the catchy sound, but the likes of 33 Crows and Hari Bol mix folk and the trademark Indian flavour together to truly sell their arrangements.

Only in its final moments does the album begin to wear thin, with Get Right Get Ready and Mountain Lifter falling short of what came before; the latter ends up working better when taken in isolation, but Get Right Get Ready never really finds its groove in the first place. It makes for a slightly disappointing closing note for the album, but the strength of the preceding songs largely makes up for their weakness thanks to the different fusions of styles that appear throughout, and the album remains enjoyable regardless.

On a complete scale, K 2.0 is clearly a return to Kula Shaker’s stronger days. While its energy and content falls slightly short in comparison to K, it’s head and shoulders above the material following their comeback, and promises a far better phase of their career. The Indian influences makes their music something much more unique, and it seems they’ve realized as much, meaning fans of classic Kula Shaker are sure to love K 2.0.

4 / 5 stars

Source: Renowned for Sound | Album Review: Kula Shaker – K 2.0

Published in: on 01/03/2016 at 17:25  Comments Off on Renowned for Sound | Album Review: Kula Shaker – K 2.0  
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Kula Shaker, O2 ABC, Glasgow, gig review: Weird but beautiful

One of the reasons the 90s was such a memorable period for pop music was not just because it produced celebrated bands like Blur and Oasis, but because it produced eccentric ones like Kula Shaker. Their much-loved 1996 debut album K deservedly went multi-platinum thanks to its bold and heady blend of psychedelic rock, Indian sitars and mystical Sandscrit lyrics.

Two decades and one reunion down the line, the band have just released their fifth album, K 2.0. The clue is in the name: frontman Crispian Mills has described it as a “companion piece” to their debut and it makes liberal use of the same Eastern sounds which separate Kula Shaker from other guitar-led bands of the era.

Solid as this new material is, the expectant crowd of fans who gathered in Glasgow to witness the band begin their European tour had come hoping for the hits. They were not disappointed. Set opener “Sound of Drums” provided the audience-pleasing start to a night which proved that Kula Shaker’s music has, so far, stood the test of time.

K might be 20 years old, but the band has clearly still not got over its love affair with Eastern mysticism, as was made immediately apparent by the light-strewn stage set with its colourful kaleidoscopic animations of Hindu deities and the puffs of sweet smelling incense released shortly before they appeared.

Characteristically ebullient on stage, Mills nevertheless felt the need to explain early on in the night that he was suffering from limited mobility due to an unfortunate (and very middle-aged) accident. “I’ve fractured my rib,” he told the crowd, before quipping: “You should’ve seen the other duck pond.”

Although the 43-year-old frontman said he was wary of seeming “all old and decrepit”, he and the band did not show any signs of tiredness during their 75-minute set, which was filled with rapturous singalongs to hits such as “Grateful When You’re Dead”, “Tattva”, “Shower Your Love” and “303”. The last, which Mills described as a “love song to a road”, concluded with him hurling his guitar into the air.

There were some signs of rustiness, as you might expect from a band which hasn’t produced an album for six years. One of the new numbers had to be restarted, and before launching into K 2.0‘s opening track “Infinite Sun”, Mills admitted he was nervous about playing them in front of a crowd for the first time. The audience, some of whom had never seen the band live, did not seem to care.

For many it was also a chance to lose themselves in 90s nostalgia, which Kula Shaker recognised. “We’re going to play a song we wrote when we were kids. Maybe you remember it from your childhood,” said Mills, before launching into “Hey Dude”, their rocky single which would have made number one in 1996 were it not for the Spice Girls.

The band chose to close on “Govinda”, which remains the only UK top ten hit to be sung entirely in Sanskrit. It provided one of the evening’s most memorable moments when, with Mills’ encouragement, thousands of Glaswegians began chanting: “Govinda Jaya Jaya / Gopala Jaya Jaya / Radha-Ramana Hari.” Weird, but beautiful.

Source: Independent

Published in: on 21/02/2016 at 10:49  Leave a Comment  
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Glasgow show review

I’d last seen Kula Shaker with my nephew, Dave, at the University Union in the mid-Noughties incarnation, so I knew how good they could be live. However, initially on Monday night, the signs and portents weren’t overwhelmingly good: Mills is far too good a guitarist to fluff his riffs, exactly, but there were a couple that, shall we say, he caught just in time; ‘Mountain Lifter,’ being played live for the first time, had to be restarted. One of the most pleasing elements of the gig, actually, was that he admitted to being nervous, just before going into the other excellent track from the new album, ‘Infinite Sun.’ Rock star vulnerability: a rare thing.

Part of this was down to your man having a broken rib to contend with: ‘You should’ve seen the other duck pond,’ he joked, before proceeding to disprove all claims of ‘decrepitude’ by  giving a 24-carat-gold plated, full on, turned up to 11, performance of guitar heroics throughout that included leaping (it seemed) ten feet in the air mid-solo, chucking the Strat up in the air and catching it, and finishing half the songs flat on his back, blasting the final notes from a perilously prone position. I mean, any of you who’ve never actually strapped on an electric and tried to play it, borrow a friend’s and feel how hefty a block of solid wood the bugger is: it bangs against your ribs at the best of times, so to put on the show for us he did was actually pretty physically brave.

Aside from the two new songs mentioned above, the crowd got the hits they were looking for, with a heavy reliance on ‘K’ (6 songs) and ‘Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts’ (5). There was the inevitable cover of ‘Hush’ to great acclaim (Incidentally, Gavin Allen of the Mirror, Hush was originally written by Joe South for Billy Joe Royal (Wikipedia tells me) and Deep Purple did the most famous cover, when Husker Du were still at the rusks stage. Just saying.) One of your blog’s personal favourites, ‘Shower Your Love,’ got a new treatment, the rolling sus-4 chord intro making me think for a moment there was a cover of ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ on the way (next time, Crispy, if I can call you Crispy).

It was one of those gigs that just built and built, from the aforementioned early-tour rustiness. Mills does carry it all on his shoulders – keyboards, drums and bass are there to back his single guitar, and there were times when you wondered if another guitarist playing off him would have lightened the load, at least (consider this my job application, Crispers…). On the other hand, the one time the keyboard player picked up an acoustic, for ‘Ophelia,’ Mills spent half the song gesturing at the sound guy to turn him down, so maybe he’s best just doing it all himself.

As the band unrolled classic after classic, leaving the stage after a climactic ‘Tattva,’ you wondered what they had left in the tank. Any doubting Thomases were soon quietened by a three-number encore of ‘Hey Dude,’ ‘Great Hosanna’ (my personal favourite) and ‘Govinda,’ the crowd participation in the last one so thunderous that a smiling Mills told us we’d ‘just taken the roof off’ at the end.

Source: Foals v Kula Shaker – the result by andrewcferguson

Published in: on 21/02/2016 at 10:38  Leave a Comment  
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Kula Shaker: K 2.0 review – Britpop mystics back in the psychedelic saddle

★★★☆☆

Crispin Mills and co return with more sitar rock, and despite veering towards self-parody, there’s a reflective maturity here too

In 1996, Kula Shaker were one of the biggest bands in Britain, as their speedy-selling debut album, K, stormed to No 1 with a blend of 60s rocking, Britpop, Arthurian legend and Indian mysticism. Two decades on, their fifth album doesn’t journey too far from the sound of old hits such as Tattva and Govinda: it starts with a flourish of sitars, and finds frontman Crispian Mills roaring “We are one, the infinite sun”. The blond-locked frontman hasn’t lost his gift for tunes, and Holy Flame is reminiscent of Blur’s Coffee and TV. Death of Democracy is a cheery political knees-up, and the quasi-mystical Hari Bol (The Sweetest Sweet) veers towards self-parody. However, perhaps chastened by a fall from grace and spells in the wilderness, Mills also displays a reflective side, addressing his “darkest days” and “demons” with touching candour. Their big moment in the sun has long gone, but there’s enough here for an Indian summer.

Source: Kula Shaker: K 2.0 review – Britpop mystics back in the psychedelic saddle | Music | The Guardian

Published in: on 12/02/2016 at 20:19  Leave a Comment  
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ALBUM: Kula Shaker ‘K2.0’

Rating: ★★★★☆

Half way through listening to K2.0, you come to believe that perhaps, just perhaps, the Cowell-inspired hell of the past decade has been nothing more than a blip, perhaps even a bad dream from which you have just awoken, and that, blessedly, real makers of music have begun to re-emerge, stepping and blinking into the light.

Some of those players from a better, half forgotten time, have returned to make the music they love. So it is with this, their fifth album, that Kula Shaker saunter back into view on the Strangefolk label. And they’ve brought their sitars with them.

For anyone who liked the give-a-damn amped-up Indic funk of ‘Govinda’ (1996, and the only British Top 10 hit to be sung entirely in Sanskrit), there is much pleasure to be found on this new record as the band, led by Crispian Mills, has come up with an 11-track long player that dives deeper into their own compelling fusion of subcontinental beats and Anglo Saxon folk-rock.

Having enjoyed the fast ride that was the Britpop wave almost two decades ago (and getting the Gallagher nod of approval along the way), Kula Shaker has always been too accomplished a band to bother with the fickle demands of the music industry. This year, therefore, they step back into the limelight with a clutch of classically inspired tunes. ‘Infinite Sun’ – an obvious choice for a single – invokes the spirit of arguably the most tasteful of the Fab Four: Mr Harrison. An eminently danceable song with a textured production, it leaves in all the flavoursome rough edges and changes gears several times, but hooks you nonetheless. Like all the best pop, it catches you in the right places.

On K2.0, Mills – as modern-day ‘kirtankara’ (a performer of call and response chanting) – happily reveals his continued interest in Indian polyrhythms, his much-loved mantras evident on ‘Oh Mary’, ‘Hari Bol’ and ’33 Crows’. Tracks like ‘Holy Flame’ provide further evidence of the band’s love of late-Sixties rock fusion not a million miles away from the sound made by Traffic, while ‘Let Love B (with U)’, ‘Here Come My Demons’ and ‘Get Right Get Ready’ provide ample proof that these boys can play with the best of them.

“This album took us a bit by surprise because nobody realised it had been 20 years since we started,” Mills has said in a recent interview. So again, it’s a case of musicians at once indulging and surprising themselves, with Mills’ nasal intonations now evoking an ageing Lennon. The band guilelessly wears its influences on its sleeve. There’s gallows humour (‘Death of Democracy’) and muscle (‘Mountain Lifter’) in equal measure on this record. It’s the sound of players fluidly reasserting themselves. It’s a very welcome return, and with the recent news that fellow Nineties luminary Richard Ashcroft is also getting back into the studio and out onto the road, let’s hope K2.0 marks the beginning of a renaissance for the British mainstream. It’s about time.

K2.0 is released on 12th February via StrangeF.O.L.K LLP

Source: ALBUM: Kula Shaker ‘K2.0’ – GigslutzGigslutz

Published in: on 11/02/2016 at 20:20  Leave a Comment  
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ALBUM REVIEW: Kula Shaker – K2.0

★★★★☆

Cod-spiritual NME punchbags Kula Shaker are back with the sequel to their début album K, a scant two decades later (there have been releases since then, but nobody noticed). It might even go some way to dispelling their longstanding reputation as sniggersome opportunists, because K2.0 is actually rather good.

As the obligatory sitar twangs into life one fears the worst of 90s tie-dyed pseudo-ethnicity is about to make a comeback, but the collection soon blossoms into a remarkably varied collection of mature songwriting.

Holy Flame sounds like young pretenders to the retro throne Temples; Death Of Democracy remarkably turns the Greek financial crisis into a hummable tune; High Noon is a hokey but convincing spaghetti western rip-off. Crispian’s back!

 

Source: ALBUM REVIEW: Kula Shaker – K2.0 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Published in: on 11/02/2016 at 20:08  Leave a Comment  
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ALBUM REVIEW: KULA SHAKER – K2.0

London’s 60’s revivalists, Kula Shaker, are set to release K2.0, their first album in almost 6 years on 12th February. The album title seems to be a play on 1996’s K 20 years on, but is the album set to be a celebration of that career or something new?

Opening with a sitar, indian rhythm and droning vocals “We are one, the infinite sun, fly like an eagle” on Infinite Sun, it’s immediately obvious that you’re listening to Kula Shaker. The track is instantaneously infectious, wonderfully psychedelic and has a familiar feel (perhaps due to it’s similarity to Strangefolk’s Song of Love/Narayana). Following this is Holy Flame, the verse of which is reminiscent of Blur’s Coffee & TV but with a soaring and upbeat piano-rock chorus. The more closely you listen, the more upbeat 90’s Brit-pop styling you can hear flowing through out K2.0. There’s even a little bit of the noughts in there with a Zutons-esque vocal lurking in Let Love B (With You).

As expected, the lyrics are often abstract, but also observational and witty. A great example of the latter is country ditty, 33 Crows which brings forth a wry smile from the outset. It is a satyrical story which looks at a past relationship where an omen “33 crows in the middle of the road, that’s when my heart said no” convinces the narrator not to move in with their partner. The line “you might end up with no-one to call a friend, unless they are canine, or equine” had me chuckling to myself which, in public wearing headphones necessitated a prompt but unsuccessful attempt to hide behind my notebook to avoid bemused looks!

There’s little to dislike about the album, the only thing for me was a cliché stab at Christianity in Oh Mary and the random hippy sound-bites (which sound a lot like Billy Connolly minus a few F words). As we’re talking about a 60’s revival act here I guess that clichés may be somewhat irrelevant but talking about not being able to make it to space on a bus or space-rocket but going there in your mind is abstract at best!

Going back to that long stretch since 2000’s Pilgrim’s Progress, it’s obvious that long periods between albums is nothing new to Crispian and Co. as this is only their 5th LP in their 20 year career. Fortunately, this method yields quality over quantity yet again. Kula Shaker have done what they do best with K2.0 and produced an infinitely likeable collection of upbeat and happy psychedelic Brit-pop numbers. It’s a good egg but whether this will fly among the droves of 90’s act comeback albums it’s hard to tell however, I reckon K2.0 stands as good a chance as any I’ve heard of late.

Source: ALBUM REVIEW: KULA SHAKER – K2.0

Published in: on 10/02/2016 at 21:54  Comments Off on ALBUM REVIEW: KULA SHAKER – K2.0  
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Film Review – A Fantastic Fear of Everything

★★★★☆

June 22, 2012 By Jonathan Deacon

After a gaggle of films with gags that failed to make audiences really guffaw, its good see Simon Pegg back to his best with A Fantastic Fear of Everything. He takes to the role of the highly strung and jittery Jack like a rabbit to headlights. (more…)

Published in: on 22/06/2012 at 16:03  Leave a Comment  
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Review: A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING

A quirky gem of a film, Crispian Mill’s feature film debut A Fantastic Fear of Everything fits well into the British tradition of horror-comedy, where slightly-crazed logic flows along with an acceptance of the weird, the existential and the eccentric. While not without problems, the film has a strong heart, anchored by a great performance by Simon Pegg at his nerdy best.

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Published in: on 20/06/2012 at 17:27  Leave a Comment  
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REVIEW: A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING • FLICKTALKERS.

Published in: on 12/06/2012 at 19:16  Leave a Comment  
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Film review: A Fantastic Fear Of Everything – Film and Cinema

A Fantastic Fear of Everything isn’t continually laugh-out-loud funny but it does have a strong independent voice and is made with a great deal of care and attention, and, perhaps surprisingly, affection.

It’s clearly a labour of love – something lacking in so much of Hollywood’s contemporary output – and definitely superior to much of it.

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Published in: on 08/06/2012 at 21:36  Leave a Comment  
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A Fantastic Fear of Everything review

★★★★

via: A Fantastic Fear of Everything » Who’s Jack.

Simon Pegg takes the lead in this dark, funny and thoughtful British comedy.

A Fantastic Fear of Everything feels, at least in the opening scenes, like it could be distractingly derivative of other films. It is the first feature from co-directors Crispian Mills and Chris Hopewell, who have both worked in the medium of music videos before graduating to full length movies. But while it wears its influences and intentions on its sleeve, it manages to combine them into a playful and dark package which is, in the very best sense of the word, charming. (more…)

A Fantastic Fear of Everything review

Published in: on 21/05/2012 at 11:12  Leave a Comment  
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