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Kasabian delivers the hits (ouch!)

October 08, 2006|Chris Lee | Times Staff Writer

TO solicit Tom Meighan's opinions about pop music's big names is to ask for trouble. The frontman for the British rock quartet Kasabian -- which shot to the top of the UK album chart last month with its second album, "Empire" -- makes dis-monger 50 Cent look like the Dalai Lama by comparison.

Meighan, 26, has weighed in on a who's who with equal parts invective and characteristic Brit cheekiness.

Justin Timberlake, in the singer's view, is a "midget with whiskers" and "a puppet in a million-dollar suit who's had his strings cut off." The Rolling Stones, with whom Kasabian toured this year, are "granddads" who "should be drinking cups of tea in their armchairs."

This year's breakout Brit rock act, the Arctic Monkeys, by contrast are "dirty little scoundrels" according to Meighan -- although he affords them a grudging respect. He summarily dismisses Test Icicles as "rent boys" and Bloc Party as "whingers."

"The whole mouthy thing -- what people don't get is how tongue in cheek we are," Meighan explains. "It's not that malicious. Is Justin Timberlake a puppet? It's true! And everybody's patting us on the back for saying it."

As he sees it, the group is simply putting forward an archetypal British version of the decadent rock 'n' roll dream: preening rock stars who run off at the mouth and make broodily propulsive T. Rex-esque glam rock rounded out with elements of Big Beat electronica in the vein of the Chemical Brothers and Primal Scream.

At least at home, the formula seems to have struck a chord: Kasabian's second album has received critical raves -- NME, for instance, gave "Empire" nine out of 10 stars -- and the group regularly sells out stadiums across Europe.

The band is about two-

thirds of the way through headlining a U.S. tour (which pulls into the Henry Fonda Theatre on Wednesday). But don't

assume its members are

overly concerned with cracking the notoriously fickle U.S. market.

"We don't give a damn about the American dream," Meighan says. "The plan is to play our music, see if it takes off -- to try and conquer as much as we can."

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Let them hear new wave

SOFIA COPPOLA's third feature, "Marie Antoinette" (which hits theaters Friday), may be a gilded period epic set in the French palace of Versailles and featuring characters in powdered wigs, bodices and petticoats, but the movie features one of the hippest soundtracks of the year, full of '80s new wave and post-punk chestnuts such as New Order's "Ceremony," Siouxsie & the Banshees' ecstatic "Hong Kong Garden," "Natural's Not in It" by Gang of Four and Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy."

Not what you'd necessarily expect as a sonic backdrop to "Marie's" 18th century action. But the film's music supervisor, Brian Reitzell, spent 3 1/2 years working closely with Coppola and sorting through tens of thousands of songs to ensure the music fit the movie's vibe -- even if that meant taking certain liberties with period specificity.

"We never wanted to make a Merchant Ivory movie or even 'Moulin Rouge,' " Reitzell says. "For us, it was whatever was going to make you feel the right emotion. That's what keeps you in the movie and makes it timeless."

Still, some people on the

production were skeptical about the songs fitting the action.

"The cinematographer and set designer were saying to me, 'How ... are you going to do this?" Reitzell recalls. "Some people thought it was a silly idea.

"We were really keen on bands like Bow Wow Wow and Adam and the Ants," he says. "The parallel of teenagers running the palace and punk rockers growing up and drinking Champagne."

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Do whales get royalty rights too?

ANIMAL rights activists have seized on a powerful new tool to combat cruelty toward marine life: the remix.

Last week, the International Fund for Animal Welfare announced the winner of its Whale Song Remix Project, an online contest in which amateur composers created original songs using the sounds of humpback whales.

The contest, judged by the likes of Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Johanna Fateman of Le Tigre and No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont, aimed to promote citizen action against a major Japanese whaling initiative.

Grand prize winner Luke Moellman of Miami used a simple Flash tool with a keyboard interface to musically marry eerily ambient whale noise with electronic beats to create a song, "Whale Song Remix," that's reminiscent of work by French synth pop group Air. (Hear winning entries at www.stopwhaling.org/community.)

*

Museum exhibit came pre-smashed

SET to open Oct. 20 at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum: "Revolution Rock: The Story of the Clash," an exhibition of artifacts and memorabilia commemorating the late-'70s UK quartet that shifted punk rock's paradigm in the direction of dub, ska and reggae.

One standout among Clash ephemera such as handwritten lyrics and stage clothing is bassist Paul Simonon's smashed guitar from the iconic cover of "London Calling." True to punk form, Clash guitarist Mick Jones said in a press release: "If you told me 30 years ago that we were going to be in a museum, we would have laughed at you."

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