Most bands get all sorts of undeserved comparative hype. While I am usually guilty of “sounds like” relationships in my reviews, I feel that without them it would be more difficult to communicate the specific sound or direction of the band (if limited to more general terms). But I am flooded with press releases that make such outlandish comparisons that they are merely laughable. The new variation on that theme is to be so patently obscure in your references to appear hip. But the downside of that is communicating so little worthwhile information that the bio is of no use whatsoever.
But you have to admit that a band billed like this is worth a listen:
“California’s Shys are a blistering four-piece featuring Iggy style vox and hints of all the Stones: the Rolling Stones, Stone Roses, and Sly And The Family Stone.”
I really liked this album, as well as their follow-up You’ll Never Understand This Band The Way I Do. I’ll save the references for that one for another time, but here’s my review of Astoria from Pop Culture Press in 2007:
The opening track “Never Gonna Die” kicks off with a blast of ringing guitars and Keith Moon-like drums, transporting the listener to England circa 1977. But although a comparison to the melodic pub punk of bands like The Boys wouldn’t be out of line, these sounds are being made by a band in their early twenties…from California? Vocalist Kyle Krone wraps his throaty Iggy vocals around an album full of strong material, albeit heavily influenced by a myriad of other bands.
“Call in the Cavalry” brazenly swipes a riff and drumbeat from the White Stripes but grows it from there, ditto “Alive Transmission” (“Search and Destroy” meets “Undercover of the Night”) and the Ian Hunter drenched “Waiting on the Sun”. The title track is a Clash-like stomp that builds and recedes like a violent tide. And while they may cop some modern bands, the guitar work is steeped in seventies rock, which makes tracks like “The Resistance” much more than a nod to Oasis. A very, very strong debut.
Listen to clips at Amazon.
Filed under Music, Reviews
The name is almost an oxymoron, jacked up yet smooth. But that’s a pretty accurate description of the charming and infectious retro-pop served up by the band, a collaboration between Jon Lawler of The Fratellis and Lou Hickey, an heretofore unknown cabaret singer from Glasgow. The eponymous album was released in 2009 and failed to chart any singles but did have a video nominated for an award by MTV Europe; the album was released in the US almost a year ago, adding a bonus track cover of a Stone Roses classic.
Video: “I Am The Resurrection”
Reportedly the pair came together when Hickey received a grant from the Scottish Arts Council and asked her friend – Lawler’s wife – for advice. The Fratellis were taking a break and Lawler was looking for something to do between albums. Lawler is a fan of James Bond film scores; Hickey an old-school type geeked about swing, big band and Lee Hazlewood-Nancy Sinatra. What are the odds that these two would find each other and mesh so seamlessly, from vocals to songwriting skill? Timing is everything.
I was pretty floored considering the image that The Fratellis present in their music; CVC is a much more sophisticated set of songs. The Codeine Velvet Club most often mixes Cabaret-style posturing with cinematic pop; Hickey’s voice is perfect and she’s a great visual focal point as well. Lawler slides into this other persona with ease, and the assembled backing band adds punch and atmosphere. No wonder that there’s a little John Barry in there; trumpeter Derek Watkins has played on every Bond soundtrack to date.
Video: “Little Sister”
Sadly, they’ve disbanded already. Let’s hope that like many great side projects, the principals decide to reanimate it from time to time. In the meantime, if this means a new Fratellis album is on the way (although Lawler is hinting about going solo), that would be more great news.
Listen to clips on Amazon.
Codeine Velvet Club official website and on MySpace
The Fratellis website
Filed under Music, Reviews