Posts Tagged ‘The Cribs’

I haven’t reviewed an album in what must be knocking on two years. This tragic hiatus from the world of amateur music journalism can largely be attributed to the fact that I haven’t even bought a CD in half of that time. Jack White Blunderbuss may well have been my last purchase to date. Jesus!

Rather, these days my bank balance at ATMs tends to read “don’t make plans you’re broke” a la Hard Fi – Cash Machine. In spite of my economic woes, I cobbled together enough disposable income at the end of last month to live for the weekend and make a long-awaited addition to my record collection. On recommendation from my brother I went for Franz Ferdinand’s fourth installment entitled Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action (RTRWRA).

Right all round - Franz Ferdinand's third album.

Right all round – Franz Ferdinand’s third album.

Ok, first things first, I acknowledge that my review has arrived a little late – RTRWRA was released in August 2013. Nevertheless, this record has gone so far to rekindling my love for scratchy guitar music that I believe it merits a mention on this space!

On first impressions, I agree whole-heartedly with Tonedeth in that this isn’t a record that will blow you away. This is a record to blow your whole bloody house and all its content away! No, that is an exaggeration too far – in all honesty RTRWRA is a typical Franz Ferdinand album; nothing more, nothing less.

Contra to the way the old saying goes, Alex Kapranos et al. keep managing to reinvent the wheel… but rather well at that. The Franz wheel is now an embellished one; featuring sublime traction courtesy of their second album You Could Have It So Much Better and sparkling alloys afforded by their stonking third record Tonight.

All in all, RTRWRA is a classic 10-song serving of indie rock – a brand of music which any reader of Riot on the Radio will know I am more of a sucker to than a baby is a dummy. ‘Music for the dance floor’ or ‘for a night of hedonism’ as Free Girl in Paris so elegantly yet accurately puts it. Never is there a dull moment, from the fruity twangs of Fresh Strawberries to the incessantly probing Bullet. Textbook ‘This Fire’-esque opening riffs are omnipresent in tunes such as Treason! Animals in contrast to the gorgeous slow-burner that is The Universe Expanded. As A. D. Elliott states over at ‘The Remarkables’ – every song is worthy of a repeat.

The Glaswegian quartet always had a little too much style and originality to survive the post-2008 cull of indie bands. Whereas The Horrors tweaked their sound and acts like The Vaccines arose to target the teenage fanbase; Franz have just stuck to the same formula. And why not? After all, this is a tried and tested formula that ‘took out’ the nation in 2004!

As if I haven’t sung their praises enough already, FF are signed to Domino Records, the label responsible for (amongst others) Arctic Monkeys, Hot Chip, Villagers and Animal Collective. What’s more, lead singer Kapranos produced the third album, Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever, for another favourite outfit of mine, The Cribs. And to wrap it all off, I’m reliably informed by Wikipedia that the Franz frontman spends his time outside of recording/touring in a carpentry workshop crafting ‘abstract furniture’. Hence, on the basis of this triple whammy, I wish to boldy proclaim Alex Kapranos as a ‘treasure’ – a status that I recently assigned to Alex Turner.

Apparently, and unsurprisingly, RTRWRA is equally good live. Me for one, I can’t wait to sample it. Right on!

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Echo & The Bunnymen have a legacy. Evidently this is something Ian McCulloch needs to learn and not ruin. “We think it’s important to keep coming back” the gruff, notoriously uncompromising vocalist tells this evening’s all-seater audience. The lavish decor of Manchester’s Palace Theatre provides suitable backrest for the ageing crowd, 80% of which I hazard are 40-plus somethings. “Anyone got verrrtigo?” he quizzes the third tier, accentuating his Liverpudlian Rs.

Echo & The Bunnymen – Ocean Rain (cover art)

Arctic Monkeys poster – coincidence or influence?

Musically, The Doors-inspired Bunnymen are a hard band to define. A swift tour of the venue leaves me equally befuddled after spotting fans exhibiting a collection of Ramones, Cribs and Avril Lavigne shirts. A post-punk classification perhaps?

Tonight Echo are back to showcase in full their flagship album Ocean Rain; released in 1984 at the height of their powers. The addition of strings makes it an extra bit special. In a warming introduction, the string sextet treats us to a version of Love Will Tear Us Apart (always a winner in Manchester).

The first Bunnymen half of the evening is a greatest hits rendition. Initially I’m more blown away by the relentless outgassing of dry ice. McCulloch’s chronic croakiness is probably a symptom. Rescue and Never Stop rouse the restless when the Scouse singer unexpectedly harmonises with a throng of boisterous mid-tier Geordies.

After the interval we return for the Ocean Rain run-through. Immediately the beautiful Silver sparkles, inspiring outbursts of “la la la la las” and “ti ti ti ti tips”. The supplementary strings add powerful backing to Nocturnal Me and the stirring Thorn of Crowns.

The Bunnymen are riding a wave once The Killing Moon has set, and it heightens after navigating the glorious Seven Seas. All waves have to crash however and when a crowd disturbance first curtails Ocean Rain, McCulloch’s own tempestuous nature is provoked.

The Ocean Rain interruption doesn’t leave us entirely drenched with disappointment. An encore of Nothing Lasts Forever and Lips Like Sugar go some way towards sweetening the sour taste.

Today the Echo influence manifests perhaps most closely in the 4th album material of Arctic Monkeys – who were dubbed their ‘spiritual heirs’ by The Guardian. Comparisons are futile though as Echo have carved out an uncontested niche for themselves over the years. Through the haze and controversy aside this was a close to triumphant performance of their best.

Last Saturday saw me unintentionally stumble across the Godiva Festival in Coventry. An attendant for other purposes, I was completely oblivious to the city’s get-together. The nature and magnitude of the event soon became apparent though as the train from Nuneaton piled up with a lary hoard of Stella-fuelled 13-20 year olds. Who can blame them? 

The celebratory music festival which began as a one-dayer in 1997 has previously staged the likes of The Human League, Kasabian, The Cribs, Idlewild, locals The Enemy and believe it or not, one Leo Sayer! This year’s do was graced by headliners Heaven 17, Athlete and amongst other Young Knives, Sandi “one-hit-wonder” Thom and Jeremy Clarkson’s favourite act – Lethal Bizzle. The only identifiable song I recognised from inside my peripherally-placed alternative tent was Whistle For The Choir courtesy of Jon Fratelli’s acoustic guitar – always a sweet listen. 

Musical talent was accompanied by a fine assortment of boutiques and stalls including homemade jams, spangly bracelets and voodoo gear. The Coventry Telegraph reliably informs me that the three day weekender attracted a record audience of 120,000; transforming the ‘Ghost Town’ into a carnival atmosphere. Let’s hope the entertainment and income generated outweighed the disgraceful 30 TONNES of refuse the City Council had to dispose of.