Kasabian
w/the Music, Morningwood
Mon March 7, Neumo's, 8 pm, $11/$13, 21+.

What's all this shit about British restraint? Ever read the UK music press? It's about as restrained as a gaggle of 13-year-old girls at a Justin Timberlake in-store. By UK music press, I mainly mean the NME, a London-based rag that serves as the music industry's tasteless tastemaker and hyper hypemonger. Viruses spawned in NME editorial meetings spread worldwide, affecting what Wal-Marts in Idaho stock, what radio stations in Barcelona play, what pop stars kids in Copenhagen wank to, what names U.S. A&R reps tap into their Palm Pilots, etc. Every seven days, the paper feeds the public stories about bands that will MAKE YOU CRAP YOUR TROUSERS, GIVE YOU MULTIPLE ORGASMS, AND CAUSE YOU TO SET FIRE TO YOUR RECORD COLLECTION. OMIGOD!!!

You know the drill. New blood must be infused into pop's lumpen corpus. Readers must be stimulated. Units must be shifted. Papers must be sold. It's a bold-faced, all-capped, italicized, multiple-exclamation- marked, high-turnover world, innit?

And when these bands peak and have the world by the short-and-curlies? Well, then they must be taken down, usually with a gradual, chronic nibbling at the legend. Lots of music fans grumble about this situation. But, to be fair, the tabloid does champion a winner about one out of every eight times. As recipients of NME editorial largesse go, Kasabian--four lads from Leicester, England, which is roughly the Brit equivalent of St. Louis--ain't half bad.

Naming their group after Charles Manson's pregnant getaway driver (feel that frisson of danger and madness?), Tom Meighan (vocals), Sergio Pizzorno (guitar/keyboards), Chris Edwards (bass), and Christopher Karloff (guitar/keyboards) have that Stone Roses/Primal Scream/ Verve/Oasis mojo going. All of those self-proclaimed saviors possessed the astonishing hubris to think that their bands were the best on the planet right then, that there was nobody doin' nuffink interesting musically except them, that they were going to save Britain from a sea of tedious rock bands, that they were the only true way, ad absurdum. Messianic bollocks, basically. But it makes for good copy. (Headline for Kasabian's NME cover story: "We're the Best Band in Britain.")

Also similar to those Brit precursors, Kasabian have the requisite greasy helmet hair, photogenic features, lean frames, and intense gazes for maximum daydream potential. Cheekbones are destiny in this game. Combine them with a passel of cocky quotes and delusions of grandeur, and next thing you know you're pantomiming on Top of the Pops and doing rails backstage in mid-sized U.S. venues.

Kasabian are at the most exciting stage of this typical buzz-band trajectory: They're embarking on their first North American tour, their self-titled debut album (certified Platinum in England) is streeting here March 8, and dreams of hot Yank chicks dance in their booze-soaked minds. If they can sail through customs, Kasabian could make a serious impression on the American public--the album's currently number 8 on KEXP's charts--and on this nation's hotel beds.

The music? Oh, yeah. Kasabian (RCA) resurrects the Madchester early '90s when indie rockers loosened their limbs, got hip to James Brown's "Funky Drummer," sported baggy pants, and merged rock with acid house in a haze of Ecstasy and smiley-face logos. Kasabian's lineage is noble and easily trainspotted: Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Primal Scream, the Verve, Oasis, Neu! (filtered through Stereolab), the Chemical Brothers. To ahistorical youth, Kasabian must sound dazzlingly fresh; to vets of Anglophiliac music-appreciating, Kasabian are pleasant rehabilitators of styles that are ripe for revisiting--this time with scruffier beards.

Kasabian's tone is established with "Club Foot," whose spaciously baggy funk comes adorned with mild psychedelic guitar, synth afterburners, and fx'd vocals that channel Happy Mondays and Stone Roses. The rickety funk juggernaut "Processed Beats" rides a memorable, head-bobbing bass line, sci-fi synth twitterings, and distant, Ian Brown-ian vocals. "Reason Is Treason" builds a head of urgent steam like early Stereolab lifting Neu!'s classic motorik beat (expertly executed by guest drummer Ryan Glover), with bonus jangly guitar propulsion. Throughout the disc, Pizzorno and Karloff cleverly swathe the functional space-funk trekking with swirling, stardusted synth sounds. Overall, Kasabian is a fine gateway drug to heavier, harder sonics that lie over the horizon.

No matter, Kasabian's world domination is assured. Dig this. According to Mojo magazine, Primal Scream bassist Mani was listening to Kasabian with Oasis' Noel Gallagher in a pub. Both musicians sensed their legacies were in competent hands, and Mani was so overjoyed, he ran around with his plonker hanging out of his pants. If that's not a guarantee for gold, what is?

segal@thestranger.com

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