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We Predict A Riot

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 22, 2005 1:47PM

The well-worn cliché about British rock and pop audiences is that they are ready and willing to embrace a band that breaks the mold and presents something new—much more so than music fans over here. Just two years ago, music execs were in a panic over the lack of British artists on the Billboard charts. While Robbie Williams still remains a hard sell here, whatever plan was devised back in 2002 is clearly working. And well.

Three years later, rock artists like Franz Ferdinand, Keane, The Streets, and Snow Patrol have all established themselves as the next wave of a welcomed British invasion. The States are so desperate for British-sounding bands that we’re having to invent our own (Scissor Sisters, The Killers) while we wait for the next hot Brit that comes walking through the door.

In the last town they were in, Kaiser Chiefs were run out of town with their lead singer's head on a pike.Enter the Kaiser Chiefs. The signs all point to this band becoming absolutely huge here. Let’s examine the evidence. First, the pedigree: a massive profile in England that culminated in landing the cover of this week’s NME (being called “the next Franz Ferdinand” certainly doesn’t hurt either). Then there’s the matter of two much-lauded shows at SXSW (including props from the Trib’s Greg Kot); mentions in both Blender and Rolling Stone this month; the obligatory Letterman appearance; and adds for the single “I Predict A Riot” at KROQ, 101X, and other buzz-building radio stations (listen to it via Windows Media here).

On their just-released album, Employment, Kaiser Chiefs stand apart from their contemporaries thanks to an urgent sincerity in their delivery and an undeniable catchiness to their hook-laden arrangements. How catchy? No less than three songs deliver some variation on the “la la la” chorus (one of them is helpfully titled “Na Na Na Na Naa”). Rare is the band with the balls (sorry, bollocks) to attempt a line like But you work in a shirt with your nametag on it/Drifting apart like a plate tectonic and emerge unscathed on the other side.

The only page left in the International Pop Overthrow handbook calls for a proper U.S. tour. Kaiser Chiefs gathers its armies in a two-week mini tour that hits Chicago this week as the lads from Leeds play the Double Door at 9 PM this Thursday. See them now before the backlash starts.