The Spiritual Dark Age – @tokillaking – album review

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It’s years since I posted up a music review on my blog but I’ve felt compelled to write about this new album from underrated band To Kill A King. Full disclosure: the lead singer Ralph is a family friend I’ve known since he was a teenager so I’ve always followed his band’s work with interest. The Spiritual Dark Age is To Kill A King’s third album and was three years in the making. I saw them live on Monday at intimate Newcastle venue The Cluny – they are still on tour as I write – go and see them if you get the chance, a really energetic and entertaining band to see live.

5 Star Review: The Spiritual Dark Age – To Kill A King

I’m not sure how the band would feel about my describing this as a concept album – but I think it is and the clue is in the album name, title track ‘The Spiritual Dark Age’. The theme running through this blistering 40 minutes of anthemic, lyrical folk rock is ‘the crack in everything’. The feel of this album reminds me a little of Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible (although it doesn’t have as much a sense of dread). Ralph’s lyrics articulate a generation that is set adrift spiritually, perhaps most clearly in the title track:

And so the good man said:
“Turns out God is dead.”
They worshipin’ signs instead
Faith from books they haven’t read
They’re angry all the time
Angry at some hole inside
Welcome to the Spiritual Dark Age

Oh, don’t lose your grip
Don’t get contemplative
About this space we live
Between first breath and then the grave
No need to be saved
Just some rules on how to behave
Welcome to the Spiritual Dark Age

I’m not alone and you’re not alone in this
There’s no map and we’re all just set adrift
Just children making pictures in the sky
Arguing about who’s wrong and who’s right

Aye, there’s the rub. Other tracks include the Unspeakable Crimes of Peter Popoff – about a televangelist, and Compassion is a German Word, which contains my favourite lyric: ‘compassion is my weapon of choice’. I made this little poster (my first piece of fan art!) to illustrate it (shamelessly nicking Banksy’s image from Palestine):

Compassion is my weapon of choice.jpg

There is hope to be found too, a sense of solidarity, a sense of finding out what really makes life worth living such as the insight of Good Old Days:

There’s time to waste
There’s a golden beam lights up their face
But you never stopped to appreciate it

So tell me now how it’s possible that a single day seems so
Beautiful and you never know them till they’re gone

This is a great album. Having received it on (cool purple) vinyl has made me listen to it ‘properly’ – as in all the way through without skipping. It’s a cliche but it really is all killer, no filler.

I can’t remember the last time I heard an album that so accurately pinpointed the current spiritual zeitgeist. Have a listen!

The album’s available on Spotify or direct from the band’s website here: http://www.tokillaking.co.uk/

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My vinyl copy of the album on my record player

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Listen to the new album from Warpaint a week before it’s released.

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I was chatting to a mate recently about the paucity of girl rock bands around now compared to the 90s when I was a teenager, I love Belly, Garbage, L7, The Breeders, Hole… Happily I recently heard Warpaint on the radio. This is a great all-girl band from LA and you can listen to their new album right here:

 

The Low Anthem – Oh my God, Charlie Darwin – album review

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I’ve been banging on about how great this album is for a while now and so I thought I ought to do a ‘proper’ review.

Album cover

Album cover

This trio from Rhode Island have produced possibly my album of the year. It is in the vein of the new Americana  music of the ilk of The Dodos, Animal Collective & Bon Iver. What I love about the album is the range of styles.

The record begins with the ethereal ‘Oh my God, Charlie Darwin’ which starts with the beautiful lyrics:

Set the sails I feel the winds a’stirring

Toward the bright horizon set the way

Cast your reckless dreams upon our Mayflower

Haven from the world and her decay

All this sung in an otherworldly falsetto by the lead singer which recalls the Bon Iver For Emma Forever Ago album of last year.

Then come two simple, gentle folk songs that make me feel like I’m on a road trip through a bleak landscape. The road trip then makes a stop at what appears to be a truckers’ bar. Two raucous, sing along songs burst into life, with the falsetto disappearing and the singer becoming a throaty man of the world. Fast paced with plenty of harmonica and a rousing chorus, you can’t help but join in.

The next track feels like the morning after, it’s attendant tracks then move off the road and the gang are now sitting around a campfire.

Following these is my favourite song on the album – Champion Angel (click to play) – an epic song which sounds like Noel Gallagher has joined in on guitar to turn it into a proper terraces anthem.

The album closes with some bluesy, bluegrassy, Sigur Ros-like songs (if you can imagine that!) and brings us back round to getting back into the car, heading for the horizon together.

The perfect road-trip album, soundtrack to the summer, I’ve had it on repeat for a while now and I’m not bored of it yet!