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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Crookes - Hold Fast


There is a new sound hitting the indie scene and it comes in the form of Daniel Hopewell, Russell Bates, Alex Saunders and George Waite who together are known as The Crookes. Formed in 2008 from Sheffield they boast the sounds of The Smiths and Belle & Sebastian and have a number one fan in the shape of legendary disc jockey, Steve Lamacq after they performed a live session on Radio 1.

Their first album is already firmly tucked under their belt, Chasing after Ghosts was released in March of last year and it showcased some of the greatest british songwriting since Noel and Liam first came about. It is clear from the romantic and often poetic sound the young band had been listening to The Smiths for quite some time before this record was released.

Singer and frontman George Waite charismatically sings sweet lyrics such as "we'll find a better way to spend our time alone" from the single Bloodshot Days. Barely louder than a whisper, he finds a way to reach out to fans even though you can rarely work out their lyrics on some tracks (Laundry Murder, 1922). It is this factor that makes the band more charismatic and compelling, they glide through a song rather than annunciate every single syllable, something they make look effortless.

My very trustworthy music friend told me to give them a listen, and after the second or third time I was hooked, I immediately looked online to see if they were touring at all. They were. Were they playing any time in Southampton? Yes! They were coming to the small city to play a cosy indie rock venue called Lennons, the perfect place for them to showcase their new music for this all important second album.

With the cheap drinks flowing and a great warm up act (Sean McGowan, give him a listen) the stage was ready for the indie four piece. They played a lively and sweaty set much to the pleasure and excitement of one or two 'hardcore' fans who had been waiting eagerly at the front for about half an hour before. The whole way through this gig I found myself thinking that I could have quite easily been listening to their album at home in my room, they were pitch perfect and the happiness they got from performing came across to the audience.

And now they have a new album out and it is as old school and charismatic as the first, but this time the four romantics seem to have found their footing as a strong indie band. Afterglow was the first single from the album and it sets you up for their whole sound, from louder drum hits to the woaahhhhhs and ahhhhhhs in the background, you are listening to an already more experienced band.

The songs leave you humming for hours after you've listened, memorable melodies and complicated lyrics are what make the band unique, they do slip back into the sound that first made the popular though. American Girls offers a 30 second haunting introduction with beautiful words (you never crossed my mind/ I slipped away) that make you stop and give the song your undivided attention.

It is The Cooler King that is the surprise song of the album, with more of a rocky Buddy Holly and Elvis sound, it is not necessarily a song you would associate with the cool indie band, but it works. Waite reaches a whole new level of high notes and with the clapping and whooping prominent in the background from the other band members it takes you back to 1950s rock 'n' roll nostalgia.

This band are already making themselves known on the British indie scene, if only there were more musicians out their doing what The Crookes seem to be doing so easily.

The Crookes - Afterglow


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