Category Archives: Frightened Rabbit
For the second year running, the ridiculously energetic Peenko has organised a poll of Scottish Blogs and Music Sites to determine the Caledonian blogosphere’s albums of the year. Here in full is the Top 30:
1. The National – High Violet
2. Admiral Fallow – Boots Met My Face
3. Meursault – All Creatures Will Make Merry
4. Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks
5. Kid Canaveral – Shouting at Wildlife
6. The Phantom Band – The Wants
7. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
8. The Last Battle – Heart of the Land, Soul of the Sea
9. Broken Records – Let Me Come Home
10. Bronto Skylift – The White Crow
11. Beach House – Teen Dream
12. The Fire & I – Stampede Finale
13. Sufjan Stevens – Age Of Adz
14. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
15. Best Coast – Crazy For You
16. Mitchell Museum – The Peters Port Memorial Service
17. Teenage Fanclub – Shadows
18. The Scottish Enlightenment – St Thomas
19. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
20. Jonsi – go do
21. RM Hubbert – First & Last
22. Errors – Come Down With Me
23. Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can
24. Sleigh Bells – Treats
25. The Boy Who Trapped The Sun – Fireplace
26. Micah P Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs
27. Bruce Springsteen – The Promise
28. How To Swim – Retina (Or More Fun Than A Vat Of Love)
29. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
30. Silver Columns – Yes and Dance
I own, I think, a dozen of the above records and a couple of my personal Top 5 haven’t made the cut. What I find interesting about the higher reaches of the chart is that 3 of the Top 4 are in the MPT collection yet all 3 records are, IMHO, inferior to the previous efforts of the artists concerned. The full list of voters can be found here on Peenko.
I’ll not be writing about my LPs of the year until close to the end of 2010, because at the moment I’m still attempting to take several releases which are new to my ears even if they’ve been out for a while.
I’m also planning to present the best of the year in a slightly different format to previous years as well – time permitting.
OK, I’m off to hopefully see one of the bands featured above. Can you guess which one?
BAMS Logo designed by Struan Teague
I’d been aware that Idlewild’s Rod Jones had been heavily involved in the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival in previous years but the project has grown substantially for the current year with the founding of the Fruit Tree Foundation.
A number of well known Scottish songwriters, Jones, Scott Hutchison, Emma Pollock, Karine Polwart, Jenny Reeve, James Graham, Jill O’Sullivan, Alisdair Roberts and James Yorkston decamped to Perth for a song writing collaboration and the results will be released as an LP, initially available only at two shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow this weekend.
Obviously the involvement of Pollock and Polwart lends echoes of the Burns Unit but this could be a little different.
The shows will see the entire LP performed but with additional solo performances from Polwart, Hutchison and Broken Records (Edinburgh HMV Picturehouse, Friday 1st) and Yorkston and Roberts (Glasgow O2 ABC) with tickets £6 for each show.
There’s more info available from the Fruit Tree Foundation site from which you can also download 2 tracks from the LP.
With the release last month of their third studio LP ‘Winter of Mixed Drinks’ Frightened Rabbit for the first time found themselves with a weight of expectation on their shoulders. Not only did they have to follow up the brilliant ‘Midnight Organ Fight’ but there was a growing belief that the band stood on the verge of the big time. ‘Winter’ therefore has a lot to live up to.
First things, first though – is it any good? Well, there’s a qualified yes to that from this quarter but in truth I’m a little underwhelmed. Perhaps this isn’t that surprising. Despite being blown way by MOF, I’ve never really ‘got’ the band live in the way that friends do and I feel that, had I heard the debut LP before MOF, I’d have never made it to the second LP. I am not therefore a zealous FR adherent.
Nonetheless the first side of WOMD in particular is excellent. There’s enough signs of the envelope being stretched to keep me happy – the opener ‘Things’ is brought into the world on the back of a dirty sampled guitar whilst ‘Skip The Youth’ opens on a maelstrom of percussion and guitars.
The songwriting and arrangements are recognisably Frabbit, with multi layered harmonies and wordless choruses to the fore. Whilst sound wise it’s a lot cleaner than MOF there are still moments where this seems to be deliberately sabotaged (like where the tinkly keyboards are mixed over Scott’s voice in ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’.) So it doesn’t feel like they’ve set out to make a no holds barred assault on the mainstream.
Side 2 starts promisingly with second single ‘Nothing Like You’, an up tempo rocker very much in the vein of fans’ favourite debut LP ‘Sings The Greys’. But thereafter things come somewhat unstuck as for me at lesat, the last few songs are bland and unmemorable. That’s not a welcome development and the reprise of ‘Swim..’ (titled ‘Man/Bag of Sand’) seems pointless.
Penultimate song, the Runrig aping ‘Living In Colour’, offers something of a contrast but it has to be said that the spectre of Celtic rock looms rather largely over the LP. Whilst in many ways it feels like an entirely logical way for the band to take their sound, it’s not really what I wanted FR to turn out like.
Had I actually committed these words to the blogosphere several weeks ago the question of whether or not WOMD was going to be the record to break Frightened Rabbit may have been less certain. But 1 week’s appearance in the album charts at 61 suggests the record may already be a busted, commercial flush.
I would however stop short of writing it off at this stage since Fat Cat seem to have been a bit circumspect with their single releases to date. Lead single ‘Swim’ is undoubtedly the best song on the record but its charms are not gaudy and attention grabbing – it takes a little work. Follow-up ‘Nothing Like You’ seems almost a fan pleasing gesture – but again it wasn’t going to take the band to that elusive next level.
And yet, waiting in the wings, is the afore mentioned ‘Living In Colour’. This could yet be the sort of anthem to break the band to a wider audience. If it did then there are probably options for a credible follow-up single and let’s face it, record companies have never been slow to recycle singles, if they think there’s a market for them.
So I wouldn’t quite write off the LP’s Top 40 potential at this stage. But Celtic rock often doesn’t travel that well to a wider UK audience so if you’re going to press me, I’ll suggest that ‘Winter’ will likely only grow the band’s cult following, particularly in Scotland.
However it ‘s clear that by the time of record number 4, Frightened Rabbit may well have a very stark choice to make about where they want to go at that time.
Here’s the alternate video for the second single:
Buy the CD here.
The Phantom Band
The Frightened Rabbit/Phantom Band double bill in Dundee looked too good to miss and I was glad that I’d bought a ticket in advance because when I turn up, not only is the show sold out but punters without tickets are being turned away in their droves.
The first band are on when I get in and I really need to find out who they were. So I can avoid them in future. They’re a tasteful yet unpleasant combination of mid 80s lounge and Coldplay, although they perhaps deserve bonus points (perhaps )for having a very un-rock line-up. But one of the songs features a trumpet line ripped in its entirety (apart from 1 note) from ‘Move On Up’. So not just horrible but also unoriginal.
The Phantom Band are on next and confirm my feelings about them from Aberdeen. If it doesn’t seem quite as exciting tonight that’s almost certainly due to the difference in relative alcohol consumption at the two shows.
‘Throwing Bones’ has a real feeling of abandon, ‘Crocodile’ is once again absolutely immense and ‘Lefthand Wave’ a suitable finale. The sound was pretty good too. Rather than leading to a sense of going through the motions, a year of solid touring seems to have left the Phantoms on the top of their game.
Phantom Band Setlist
Regular readers may remember that ‘Midnight Organ Fight’ was my favourite LP of last year. Despite that, and the fact that the Vinyl Villain swears by Frightened Rabbit live, the couple of times I saw them live last year, they didn’t quite catch fire.
That turns out to be true of last night as well. The sound isn’t great but it’s pretty similar to last year’s shows which suggests that it’s what they’re aiming for. To these ears at least the addition of another member on stage hasn’t helped, rather it’s added to the clutter in the sound.
However somewhere around ‘The Twist’ it all starts to come together and, as ever, ‘Square 9’ is an thunderous finale. All in all the main set is a reminder of how many fine songs that they have.
It’s a bit disappointing that 12`months on from their last Dundee show the setlist is near identical to that show. Sure there’s a couple of new songs in there, but it’s structured in a very similar way and there are no surprises.
Nonetheless, despite my reservations, there’s definitely a real sense of momentum about FR at the moment. They write songs which people not only want so sing along to (Scott doesn’t even bother to sing the first verse of ‘Keep Yourself Warm’, the crowd do it for him) but which also feature those wordless hooks which encourage audience participation in the same way that the Arcade Fire did.
The new songs do nothing to dispel the notion that ,with their next LP, Frightened Rabbit could break very big indeed. ‘Nothing Like You’ in particular sounds like the most anthemic song the band have written so far.
And yet something about their approach makes me think that FR aren’t desperate to go overground quite yet. Time, and the new LP, will tell.
Frightened Rabbit Setlist
1. Modern Leper 2. I Feel Better 3. Old Old Fashioned 4. Fast Blood 5. Good Arms vs Bad Arms 6. The Twist 7. Nothing Like You 8. Working On My Backwards Walk 9. Swim Until You Can’t See Land 10. Heads Roll Off 11. Square 9
12. Poke (acoustic) 13. Keep Yourself Warm
The video for the single:
I was looking forward to TV21’s album launch for weeks. It’s been more than 8 months since I last saw the band play but, in front of a healthy crowd at the Voodoo Rooms last night, all expectations were duly met.
I’ve said it before but it remains just as true today – TV21 are simply a great live act and with the addition of violinist Emily Pepper has only broadened their sound.
TV21 play together because they enjoy it and that was never more true than last night. All five musician were clearly having a great time on stage and that successfully transmitted to the audience to create a brilliant night.
Appropriately enough the set comprised the whole album played in order followed by a few old favourites and whilst the format pretty much precluded many surprises for anyone who’d heard the record, it did illustrate just how many of the new songs hold their own in the TV21 canon.
I was going to list the highlights but the quality on display was so consistently high, it’s genuinely almost impossible.
More people should know about this band and this record and hopefully the launch will at least be a start.
TV21 are playing an acoustic show at Avalanche in Edinburgh this Thursday (28th May) at around 5pm.
Earlier support came from solo sets from Adam Thompson from We Were Promised Jetpacks and Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit. Adam opened proceedings with acoustic renditions of WWPJ songs before Scott joined him for ‘Keeping Warm’.
Scott then took over for a handful of FR numbers before Adam came back on stage for a final ‘Keep Yourself Warm’. Stripped back from full band versions, both sets of songs were great showcases for the strength of both band’s song-writing.
1. Scunnered 2. One Day In Summertime 3. When Cole Was King 4. Forever 22 5. How Did You Get It So Wrong? 6. Look To The Sun 7. Last Man Standing 8. In Another World 9. Too Late for Me Now 10. Through Different Eyes 11. On The Run 12. End of A Dream 13. Snakes and Ladders 14. Tomorrow E1. It’s Me E2. Shattered By It All
Adam Thompson/Scott Hutchison
1. It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning (A) 2. Ships With Holes Sink (A) 3. It’s My House, It’s My Home (A) 4. Short Bursts (A) 5. An Almighty Thud (A) 6. Keeping Warm (A/S) 7. Modern Leper (S) 8. Quiet Little Voices (intro!) (S) 9. Heads Roll Off (S) 10. Swim (S) 11. Poke (S) 12. Keep Yourself Warm (S/A)
I’ve got hunners of photos from the gig – some of them are starting to appear here.
And one of the gig highlights:
As well as talking about the differences between TV21 in the 80s and now, find out which punk star that the guys “stalked” and also which song on the new record Ally thinks is “rubbish”! There are three tracks from the LP and 2 tracks from different eras picked by Norman and Ally.
There’s also music from Oppenheimer, Bob Mould, Meursault and the Triffids.
Apologies for the less than perfect sound quality in the interview – there’s a slightly annoying intermittent sibilant quality to sections.