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On Topic Of: The Fratellis, “Costello Music” Album Review

October 10, 2013

Never heard of The Fratellis here in America?  Hold on, you might be more familiar with that name and the band’s music than you realize.

Their debut album is Costello Music, and this is my review of that album.

So besides the name of the bad guys from the movie “Goonies”, who are The Fratellis?

The Fratellis are a band from Scotland led by guitarist and lead vocalist, Jon Fratelli (born, Jon Lawler), bassist, Barry Fratelli (born Barry Wallace), and drummer/vocalist – Mince Fratelli (born, Gordon McRory)

The Fratellis

And if you’re a fan of NHL Hockey (more specifically, Chicago Blackhawks Hockey), you’ve likely heard snippets of “Chelsea Dagger” after each Blackhawks home goal.  For me, “Chelsea Dagger” was my first introduction to The Fratellis.  During a game last season, I finally became curious enough about the song to do a little research. I found the video for “Chelsea Dagger”, arguably The Fratellis most popular song in the U.S., and took a chance on the album Costello Music.

Now before I get into the track listing, I wanna try to describe their sound to you.  And trust me, it’s not an easy thing to do!  Wikipedia describes them as “Indie Rock”, but I honestly have no idea what Indie Rock is.  So…how would I describe their sound on this album?  The most simple explanation is a cross between Chumbawamba and The Clash (apologies, Fratellis!).  Both have that distinctively UK sound –The Clash with their very hard edge (called punk rock by some), and Chumbawamba’s “pub” sound; meaning, the kind of song I’d associate with tipping back a few pints at an English pub while singing at the top of my lungs.  But don’t get me wrong – The Fratellis sound is unique and tight, having been described as “high energy”, “beyond infectious”, “pop-punk” with a “melodic sass”, even misogynistic.  For me, it was the combination of the catchy, sing-a-long lyrics delivered with a voice that is rugged and honest, along with memorable melodies and rockin’ (sometimes folksy) guitar/drum licks.

(credit: getvideoartwork.com)

(credit: getvideoartwork.com)

The album Costello Music was named for the studio the band used to rent in Budhill, Glascow.  It was released in 2006, hit #2 on the UK Top 40 charts, and was awarded the 2007 BRIT Award for Best British Breakthrough Act.

Track listing:

  1. Henrietta” – A song about a married woman who leaves her husband to go hang out with the band (like a groupie?).  Its a great first or second song to check out if you wanna dip your toes into band’s sound.
  2. Flathead” – Was used in an iPod commercial in 2007.  The song itself is about sex and drugs.  (Guy) is conflicted on whether or not to continue having has sex with Flathead.  Its another good song to kind of dip your toes into.
  3. Cuntry Boys & City Girls” – Great blaring horns!  This song goes from a raucous start, to subdued-but-still-driving middle, then countdowns to a primal scream and blaring horns and raucousness.  If you get a chance, check it out on YouTube.
  4. Whistle For The Choir” – A very Beatle-esque song in its tune, in my opinion it’s about being in love with a girl who’s been hurt and is afraid or unwilling love back.  You’ll be whistling too.
  5. Chelsea Dagger” – If this song doesn’t get you jacked, call a mortician (you’re dead).  Wikipedia says its about Jon Fratelli’s wife who is a burlesque dancer (stage name, Chelsea) and a play on the name Brittney Spears (Chelsea Dagger)…there are other interpretations, of course.
  6. For The Girl” – Is a VERY poppy song.  I think it’s a song about a love hate relationship.  They don’t have anything in common, they used to love each other and now likely stay with each other for sex, and they just can’t end it.
  7. Doginabag” – Is a slower-paced song, but I think it’s for a reason.  Follow me.  Now, I may be WAY off base on this one, but I think this song is about the singer lamenting on how he used to be before his addiction.  Or its about a dog in a bag..
  8. Creepin Up The Backstairs” – To me, a song about kids sneaking out, partying.  Great party song!  Love the changes in this song: hard-driving punk-style to a pop feel, mixed with up and down scale harmonies. 
  9. Vince the Loveable Stoner” – Vince/Mince is a loveable stoner.  He hasn’t a care in the world, and the laid back tempo of the song reflects it.  REALLY worth a listen!
  10. Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night” – Many opinions on this song at SongMeanings.com.  To me, it’s about a stripper (who does a little more on the side?).  She loves him, but he rejects her because of her choices, and she cries at the strip club.  Check out this live version of this song:
  11. Got Ma Nuts from a Hippy” – Definite “Clash” feel on this song: driving, hard crushing licks and lyrics.  Great stuff.  As for the meaning, it looks like the consensus opinion is that this is about a young man losing his virginity to a hippy in a camper van on Saturday night.  Here’s a live version of the song.
  12. Ole Black ‘N’ Blue Eyes” – Might be about (guy) who has a crush on a girl, but the girl’s friend (Chelsea) has a crush on him.  He goes out with her, but treats her indifferently.  The video for this song is not what I would have expected for the song.  You should check it out.

Finally, my opinion of Costello Music can be summed up by this note on the album sleeve:

“and finally, thank fuck for The Fratellis!”

Thanks for reading.

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A new generation of progressive thought. Another generation of liberal politics.

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