Web Home of Brandon D. Ragle

More of the Same, But More So – Kings of Leon’s Mechanical Bull

A few years ago I described the Kings of Leon to a friend who had not heard of them as “sort of like The Strokes for rednecks.”  Now this sloppy generalization was more a hat tip to the power and influence of The Strokes’ sound than a slight to the Kings of Leon.  In fact, even when reduced to a country-fried version of The Strokes, it has certainly not hurt Kings of Leon in terms of record sales and productivity.  Six studio albums deep, the Tennessee quartet continues to sell out shows and produce the sort of Southern-influenced, distinctly American rock music that has made them a household name.

Kings of Leon’s Sixth Studio Effort, Mechanical Bull.

On the group’s latest offering, Mechanical Bull, we find a band not necessarily looking to break new ground, as was the case with 2008’s multi-platinum Only by the Night, but rather master the craft that is—for lack of a better description—the Kings of Leon sound.  By this measurement alone, Mechanical Bull is the band’s most complete and professional work to date.

Little is made in these days of iTunes and digital downloads of an album’s congruity or how the tracks as a whole translate to a wider view of the work.  Experiencing music in the modern age has become this disjointed practice of only listening to downloaded tracks and doing so in a random, haphazard fashion.  I make mention of this as Mechanical Bull, much to its and the artists’ credit, actually feels and plays like an entire piece; where one track slides seamlessly to the next and each one sounds as if they were made for the album.  And while this is certainly not Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, Mechanic Bull is undoubtedly the most comprehensive—if you can call it that—album I have heard this year.

It would be a bold declaration to label the Mechanic Bull as the definitive Kings of Leon album, but it is tough to find another to take on that title.  Where Only by the Night felt over-produced, Because of the Times was a bit chaotic, and Come Around Sundown seemed almost mailed in; Mechanic Bull succeeds in being, well, what we believe a Kings of Leon album should be.  Tracks like “Supersoaker,” “Rock City” (where Caleb Followill croons that he is “looking for drugs”), and “Temple” have the same edgy and cocksure sound of years’ old cuts like “Black Thumbnail” and “Pistol of Fire,” but just a bit tighter and more mature.

Continue reading »

Aphorisms I

Children are truthful idiots, while adults are wise liars.

It is better to have struck your target with a stone than to have missed with a cannon.

The court jester says what the king may not.

Human nature: those not required to do anything, will do nothing.

Continue reading »


Tattoos – The human body is not a canvas; it is a living organism that will grow old and someday need to interview for a job.  The unchecked narcissism of legions of Americans has led them to inking up their bodies in a myriad of goofy and ghastly ways and none of them are special or symbolic about anything other than poor decision-making skills.  To be sure, there is nothing artistic about a tramp-stamp that will one day morph into nothing more than a Rorschach above a single-mother’s flabby ass.  Am I perfect? Of course not, but I do not have any permanent markers on me that will alert the general population to my pathologies.  This is quite the advantage when navigating the modern world.


Pop Psychology – Modern Americans are under intense psychological pressure every day of their lives.  Work, family, school, and social lives are mentally taxing endeavors and leave many feeling a bit off kilter.  Cognitive behavioral and talk therapy can help resolve issues while leading people to a greater understanding of themselves.  This takes months and even years to accomplish, which is why pop psychology and self-help books never do the trick.  No one has resolved his or her issues by simply reading a book or watching a television program.  Those outlets are, for all intents and purposes, entertainment.  Real psychological improvement requires a heavy commitment and the guidance of a professional.  In other words: stop buying books and go see a shrink.



Government Schools – The government has grown exceedingly hostile to traditional Americans and historic America.  This hostility, known as liberalism and political correctness, has infected the public school system.  There is little that can be done in terms of safeguarding coursework and class activities; it would seem it is far too late for that.  What traditional Americans can do is pull their children out of government schools and place them in a private, charter, or home-schooling environments.  If you love nothing on earth more than your children, save them from these leftist indoctrination gulags.  School should reinforce what is great about our civilization, not desecrate it.

Continue reading »

Recommended Reading


Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier – A beautifully illustrated book that spotlights key muscle groups and the exercises that make them grow.  In its third edition, with millions of copies in print, this book is a must have for anyone with an interest in fitness training.


Classical Music by Phil G. Goulding – I owe much of what I know about classical music–its rich history, forms, and composers–to this book.  It provides a solid introduction for the uninformed and a level of detail that aficionados will find stimulating.  If you are even slightly interested in classical music (and you should be) buy this book.



In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway – In my judgment, In Our Time, is the best collection of short stories from the 20th century master.  Unique in their brevity, inspiring in their tone, these stories are Hemingway at the peak of his creative prowess.

Continue reading »

Recommended Lifestyle Choices

Sugar-Free/Paleo Diet – So much of America’s battle with obesity can be attributed to the terrible excuses for food we put in our bodies.  A sugar-free/paleo diet addresses the nutritional deficiencies inherent in a carb-rich, processed food diet. By consuming only those items the human body was designed to eat, this diet will make you healthier and fitter in a matter of weeks.  This isn’t a fad, it is scientifically proven common sense.


Autodidacticism – If you are like most Americans (myself included), you were denied a classical education in your formative years.  This sad set of circumstances does not confine you to a life of ignorance.  Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is mankind’s highest ideal.  It is never too late to pick up a book and learn something new.  It is a lifetime’s process rich with rewards.  As Socrates put it: “Wisdom begins in wonder.”

Continue reading »

Enjoyable Modern Music Experiences


August and Everything After – That Adam Duritz is the greatest songwriter of my generation is undeniable.  That critics do not roundly consider his band’s initial major label release a classic is maddening.  A refreshing break from the dominating grunge sound of the early 90’s, August and Everything After is alternative rock personified.  Tracks like “Mr. Jones,” “Round Here,” “Rain King,” and “Sullivan Street” radiate an intimacy seldom found in modern music and serve as all the reason why this album is still relevant two decades later.

Is This It?The most influential and imitated rock album of the 21st century.  Clocking in and just under 37-minutes, the Strokes freshman opus is a landmark recording that reinvigorated rock n’ roll music for a generation while spawning a multitude of imitators in the U.S. and abroad.  It is hard to pin down a favorite track; all 11 songs are miniature masterpieces (“Barely Legal,” “The Modern Age,” “Last Night,” and track no. 9 on the international release “New York City Cops” stand out as my personal favorites).  This is hands down the coolest band and album of this millennium so far.

Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m NotThe debut album from Sheffield, England’s Arctic Monkeys isn’t so much a breath of fresh air as it is a punch to the face.  The Arctic Monkeys are almost a British version of the Strokes, just a bit cheekier and far more cockney.  Breaking records in the UK for fastest selling debut, Whatever People Say… is a booze-filled joyride of pub fights (“Red Lights Indicates Doors are Secured,” “From the Ritz to Rubble”), hookups (“I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor,” “Dancing Shoes”), and keen social observations focused on modern age pretensions (“Fake Tales of San Francisco,” “When the Sun Goes Down,” “A Certain Romance”).  Fast paced and witty, this isn’t just a great rock album, it’s the sort of album that will leave you with a racing heart and a smirk on your face.  Continue reading »

Superior Consumer Products



Apple – If you can conjure up enough cognitive dissonance to wrap you head around Chinese slave labor factories and an extremely douchie consumer base and, provided, you have the excess disposable income, then Apple products are the way to go.  Their sleek design, intuitive interface, and reliability are light-years ahead of the competition. My Mac has never once froze up on me and that alone makes it well worth the extra $700 I shelled out for it.


Glock – As the modern world spirals towards collapse, it becomes incumbent upon every able-bodied man and woman to find a means to protect themselves from the chaos that is sure to ensue.  Reasonably priced and available in a number of models and calibers, Glock pistols are simple to operate and ultra reliable.  It is not an accident why most law enforcements agencies around the world rely on Glock.


Continue reading »