Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Fratellis Commit Career Fratricide

Especially if the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup--a tough task even after moving onto the second round with an elimination win over Nashville yesterday--the above song, Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis, will be one of the most beloved tunes in town. For it is what is played at the United Center after every Hawks goal.

But although it would seem to be just the thing to raise the Fratellis' profile in America--which remains rather nominal even after considerable UK success, a high profile iPod commercial featuring one of their songs and opening dates for The Police Reunion Tour in 2007--when it comes time for a victory parade, the Fratellis will seemingly not be there to play Chelsea Dagger live in person.

For according to a news item I first saw posted by Paste Magazine, the Fratellis have broken up.

OK, now that I have given you time to get back in your chair and compose yourself, I will try to convey why I am dismayed by this news. Because at a time when, to once again contradict Rolling Stone's 40 Reasons to Be Excited About Music, there has been relatively little to excite me about rock 'n roll, especially in terms of anything new, the Fratellis have been one of my favorite bands over the past five years.

I came across the 3-piece band band from Glasgow--whose members, a la The Ramones, took the guise of brothers: Jon, Barry and Mince Fratelli--in 2006, when their debut album, Costello Music, was about to be released in the UK. It was near the top of the Amazon.co.uk bestsellers even before it came out, and after waiting until I could download it, I loved it immediately.

I remember listening to it repeatedly, including songs from it in my Best of 2006 and Hidden in the Isles (comprised of UK phenoms ignored in the US) compilations and trying to share it with anyone who might listen.

I saw the Fratellis for $10 in Milwaukee in 2007 and thought they were phenomenal, and while I didn't love their 2008 follow-up album, Here We Stand, nor their subsequent concert at Chicago's House of Blues, nearly as much, both efforts were still solidly enjoyable. 

In December 2009, when I ranked My Favorite Albums of the '00s, I listed Costello Music second, behind another phenomenal debut album, Maximo Park's A Certain Trigger from 2005.

While The Fratellis may not have remained top of mind in the past few months, I consistently went back to their first album, found a bit more merit in the second and was looking forward to what they would do next.

But according to a recent forum posting from singer/guitarist Jon Fratelli (John Lawler) on the band's website, "We have no plans to work together right now. Sometimes things just work out that way. Mince, Baz and I are working on music but not with each other for a while."

That's too bad, for as I'm trying to communicate, I thought they were pretty great. They had one of the best sounds going; just the right mix of quirky fun and solid, hard rocking backbone. I guess I'll be interested if I hear what the members are doing next--particularly the singer/guitarist--and like the Blackhawks, I hope they achieve their goals.

Long live the Fratellis. At least on my iPod.

(If it works right, here's a playlist of the Fratellis' entire first album, Costello Music--except for one missing song--and one tune from their second.)

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

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