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(Holiday!) Video of the Moment #2241: The Crookes

 
By on Tuesday, 13th December 2016 at 10:00 am
 

Sheffield alt-pop quartet The Crookes have taken to the road for their English Christmas tour this week. In celebration of both the live shows and the approaching holidays, we chose today to feature the video for their new Christmas single ‘You Bring the Snow’. The Crookes have made a tradition of releasing festive tracks for the holiday season, including previous yuletide titles ‘You’re Just Like Christmas’ and ‘It’s Just Not Christmas Without You’.

The brightly synthetic musical setting of ‘You Bring the Snow’ belies a typically wistful set of lyrics, where songwriter Daniel Hopewell wishes aloud, via George Waite’s sentimental singing voice, for “one more Christmas like when we were young”. But on further consideration, the retro synth style of the instrumental arrangement fits perfectly with the nostalgia found in Hopewell’s lyrics and in director Jake McDonald’s video treatment. Filmed as a throwback-style home video, the new promo finds bandmates Waite, Hopewell, Tom Dakin and Adam Crofts celebrating the holiday together, each bringing his own particular form of festivity to the occasion.

The Crookes’ self-released Christmas single ‘You Bring the Snow’ is available now. Just below, you can have a listen to all three of The Crookes’ holiday tunes in one convenient place.

 

Live Review: The Crookes at the Rhythm Room, Phoenix, AZ – 26th September 2016

 
By on Tuesday, 11th October 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Monday night, the 26th of September, was a busy one on American shores. The first debate between presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was televised that evening, as was an early season Monday Night Football game (that’s football of the American variety). Even just in Phoenix, that Monday night was unusually active for music gigs, with shows on at several local venues, including the Marquee Theater in Tempe, the Crescent Ballroom, Valley Bar, and the Rebel Lounge.

Whichever of those events people in Phoenix were busy with that night, the entire city missed out on the best show in town, bar none, at a well-known and long-standing music venue, the Rhythm Room. Usually a blues bar, the Rhythm Room has lately expanded into other genres of music, and this night they took a chance on a band not as well-known in this part of America, Sheffield alt-pop quartet The Crookes. Their gamble might not have paid off in terms of ticket sales, but as the tiny crowd in the club that night can attest, the quality of the performance was no less than top-notch.

Crookes internal

I arrived around 7:30 for a show that was advertised to begin at 8:00, but as there was no support act on the docket (earlier shows on the tour had included The Young Wild and Zipper Club), The Crookes apparently were in no great hurry to start their show. But the patrons in the bar, who numbered exactly 9 at my count, including myself, were antsy with anticipation and nonetheless enthusiastic when the band did eventually take the stage.

Crookes internal 1

First and foremost, I have to commend The Crookes for the energy and heart in their performance, despite the infinitesimal crowd. I’ve seen them play several times in the course of my tenure at TGTF (going way back to their American live debut in 2013!), and I must say that they gave this show their full and undivided effort, where many bands might have been tempted to get lazy or write it off as not worth their time. Frontman George Waite was smooth and ever professional, despite a bit of heckling from the peanut gallery, and his voice was sounded as good as I’ve ever heard it. Drummer Adam Crofts, who might still be considered new to the band, having joined only last year, played through the show with an engaging smile on his face. The acoustics in the venue were bright and clear, and the guitars in particular, played by Tom Dakin and Daniel Hopewell, sounded amazingly crisp from start to finish. Much moreso, in fact, than when Mary and I last saw The Crookes earlier this year at SXSW 2016.

Daniel internal

The Crookes’ set list at the Rhythm Room was tight and exquisitely composed, starting with a few popular favourite tunes from breakthrough album ‘Hold Fast’ before touching on new tracks from their excellent current album ‘Lucky Ones’ and diving momentarily into their growing back catalogue. Though I did miss hearing live favourite ‘The Cooler King’, I was delighted that they chose to include ‘A Collier’s Wife’ from ‘Dreams of Another Day’, which I must admit had an air of novelty about it for me, as I hadn’t listened to it in quite some time.

A small audience allows for a bit more flexibility in a band’s set list sometimes, and The Crookes did take the opportunity to deviate a bit from their plan for the evening. Judging from the set list photo below, they hadn’t intended to include new album track ‘No One Like You’, but in the end, they did play an intense version of it that created a nice dramatic peak in the set. Then, in a truly brilliant manoeuvre, they took advantage of that intensity and the rapt attention of their audience with a refreshingly cool and polished cover of Bruce Springsteen’s steamy ‘I’m On Fire’. This, for my money, was a fantastic addition to the Crookes’ set, even if it does steal precious time away from their own four full albums’ worth of music.

Crookes set list

Waite didn’t spend a lot of time on banter between songs on this rather subdued Monday night, but of course, he couldn’t let the evening pass without a comment on the heat in the Arizona desert. He and his bandmates have travelled through the American southwest a few times now, and I suspect that they’re becoming a bit more accustomed to the climate. Still, l do hope The Crookes receive a much warmer welcome the next time they pass through the Valley of the Sun. I’ll most certainly be looking forward to seeing what they do next.

By the time this review goes to press, The Crookes will have wrapped up their Autumn 2016 American tour, which saw them following their wanderlust to a few new and unusual places, including Eugene, Oregon; Visalia, California and Birmingham, Alabama. But if you’re on the UK side of the pond, you’ll have the opportunity to see the Sheffield lads later this year. The Crookes will close out 2016 with a special Christmas tour of England this December; all the dates are listed here. TGTF’s extensive previous coverage of The Crookes is collected through here.

 

The Crookes / December 2016 English Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 11th October 2016 at 9:00 am
 

After a very busy and productive year, Sheffield’s own “intelligent pop dreamers” The Crookes will close out 2016 with a special Christmas tour. Their list of December live dates will include stops in London and Leeds before wrapping up with a Saturday night show at home in Sheffield on the 17th of December. Tickets for the following shows are available now. [For a taste of their live show, you can read Carrie’s review of their gig in her current hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, coming along at 2 this afternoon. – Ed.]

The Crookes started off 2016 with their outstanding new album ‘Lucky Ones’, released back in January on their own new label Anywhere Records in the UK and on Modern Outsider in America. You can have a look back at TGTF’s full archive of coverage of The Crookes right through here.

Monday 12th December 2016 – Nottingham Bodega
Tuesday 13th December 2016 – Bristol Louisiana
Wednesday 14th December 2016 – London Camden Assembly
Thursday 15th December 2016 – Newcastle Think Tank
Friday 16th December 2016 – Leeds Brudenell Games Room
Saturday 17th December 2016 – Sheffield Queens Social Club

 

Live Gig Video: The Crookes share their American tour video set to ‘The Lucky Ones’

 
By on Wednesday, 21st September 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

Sheffield group The Crookes have been spending quite a bit of time on our side of the pond this year to promote their fourth album. ‘Lucky Ones’, released at the end of January on their own label Anywhere Records in the UK and Modern Outsider in North America. You can read Carrie’s thoughts on the long player through this link.

During their time in our country playing their own shows and supporting San Franciscan band Geographer, they took advantage of the relative exotic locales they visited, including SXSW 2016 and a redwood forest, videotaping their tour shenanigans. Guitarist and lyricist Daniel Hopewell played editor on the footage, resulting in this mashup of clips set to album track ‘The Lucky Ones’. Watch it below. For more of TGTF’s back catalogue of coverage on The Crookes, go here.

 

SXSW 2016: Monday night’s Trackd showcase at Latitude 30 – 14th March 2016

 
By on Thursday, 24th March 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

After we were sufficiently fed at Casino El Camino – and heard ‘Love is Like Oxygen’ twice, thanks to overzealous Sweet fans feeding the jukebox? – it was time to make it over to Latitude 30 for the first of a week of nights featuring (mostly) British acts who had made it across the pond to perform for SXSW 2016 audiences at what is now famously known as The British Music Embassy. Instead of a Creative Belfast night as had been done for many years past, this year’s Monday night showcase was sponsored by Trackd, a new app for available for iPhone that allows the user to record music, collaborate with your audience (in an artist’s case, their fans), be able to remix other artists’ work, while also providing yet another social media platform where one can build a fan base of like-minded, inventive artists from the ground up.

Northern Irish singer/songwriter Ciaran Lavery played first on the showcase, at what would turn out to be his least problematic performance in Austin all week. (I’ll leave Carrie to tell you what happened to him at the Output Belfast afternoon showcase on Thursday when we get there.) It’s unmistakable from his ginger hair and beard that he’s Irish, and in the great tradition of Irish musicians who came before, he is an incredibly emotional storyteller.

Ciaran Lavery at the Trackd showcase, Monday 14 March 2016 at SXSW 2016 1
His song ‘Shame’ touched me in particular, his voice cracking near the end with the words, “I want to live between the lie and where the truth dies.” Lavery’s next album ‘Let Bad In’ (including the stellar track ‘Return to Form’, which he also played in Austin) is scheduled to be out at the end of May on Believe Recordings, and we’ll definitely want to take that platter for a spin when it arrives at TGTF Towers.

Up next and showcasing at their fourth-ever SXSW 2016 were The Crookes, but with a new line-up since their last visit to Austin in 2014. (Original drummer Russell Bates was replaced by Adam Crofts in early 2015.) With an EP and four studio albums to their name now – their most recent, ‘Lucky Ones’, having been released on their own label Anywhere Records in the UK in January – they clearly had a tough decision in choosing which songs to play during their allotted 30 minutes.

The Crookes - George Waite and Daniel Hopewell - at Trackd showcase, Monday 14 March 2016 at SXSW 2016 2
As one might expect, entries from ‘Lucky Ones’, including single ‘The World is Waiting’, plus both ‘Roman Candle’ and ‘If Only For Tonight’ (songs singled out by Carrie in her album review 2 months ago) were prominent inclusions this night in Austin. The Sheffield band set their devoted fans’ hearts alight, causing a massive danceathon down the front during their time on the Latitude 30 stage. (Hilariously, the same group of fans also followed around Kent’s Get Inuit during the week, including at the same exact venue at the same exact time Tuesday night.) For good measure, though, they could not forget breakthrough single ‘Backstreet Lovers’ nor set closer ‘Afterglow’, and upon the playing of the latter, I told Carrie I refused to honour our 2014 drink bet of the band playing it or ‘Maybe in the Dark’. Hey, it’s not my fault they don’t play their best single anymore, is it? Ha.

Third on the bill was the svelte and sassy blonde Violet Skies from South Wales, who I snuck out during Ciaran Lavery’s soundcheck to speak with outside Latitude 30 earlier in the evening. Her dramatic aesthetic of black, flowy garb matched well with her soulful voice, backed more than competently by her sultry beat-producing band. She was chosen as one of 12 bands for the Welsh Horizons / Gorwelions scheme in 2015, no mean feat considering the wealth of talent currently coming out of the land of the red dragon.

Violet Skies at Trackd showcase, Monday 14 March 2016 at SXSW 2016 2
This is definitely a case of not judging a book by its cover: I mean, how is it possible that from a young Welsh lass so slight – and baring her midriff, too – that such a powerful, emotional voice on a song like ‘Jealousy’ comes out? But it does, and her vocal delivery is near flawless. While the kids might be more keen on the hot goddess image she projects visually, I hope that it’s her gorgeous voice and songwriting talent that are what push her to the top of the heap of young British singer/songwriter hopefuls.

After a thank you to everyone for coming by the founders of Trackd, the evening closed out with a boisterous performance by Ghanese singer/songwriter JoJo Abot, now calling New York City home. When I say boisterous, I mean boisterous. The large black bow atop Ms. Abot’s head should have been a dead giveaway that this was going to be more than an ordinary performance of world music, if there is such a thing.

JoJo Abot at Trackd showcase, Monday 14 March 2016 at SXSW 2016 2

Soulful singing and equally soulful backing rhythms translated to a musical product so irresistible, I went to use the ladies’ for a brief moment, only to come out and find punters had invaded the stage. This was of course much to the chagrin of Latitude 30’s resident bouncer, who we have come to know and love over these many years of covering the festival. At the end of the day (err, night at the Trackd showcase), a good time was had by all and it was a good ease-in into the music festival proper that would begin in earnest on Tuesday.

 

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Album Review: The Crookes – Lucky Ones

 
By on Monday, 25th January 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Crookes Lucky Ones coverIf you’ve been following our previous coverage on them, you’ll already know that we here at TGTF have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Sheffield indie pop quartet the Crookes’ fourth LP ‘Lucky Ones’. As it turns out, the feeling of anxious anticipation is itself a pervasive undercurrent running through the songs, providing an energetic momentum that sweeps through the entirety of the album’s concise 33 minutes.

Though short in duration, ‘Lucky Ones’ is an album of broad musical gestures and sonic experimentation. The Crookes have taken a consciously artistic turn by bookending its eight proper songs with opening prelude ‘Brand New Start’ and corresponding reprise ‘B.N.S. Pt. II’. ‘Brand New Start’ does indeed come as an invigorating breath of fresh air after the brooding introspection of the Crookes previous album ‘Soapbox’, its crisp drum beat and silvery synth arrangement combining with lead vocalist George Waite’s distant, dreamy vocals to set a markedly different tone.

‘Brand New Start’ segues into the album’s relentlessly uptempo current single, ‘The World is Waiting’ (streaming below). The restless promise “I swear I’m gonna get my shit together” in the song’s opening line of might not ring entirely true, but it serves as a shot in the arm, spurring the album into motion. Its breathless frenzy spills over into ‘I Wanna Waste My Time on You’ (reviewed on its own merits here), where the pulsating bass riff and soaring synths illustrate the euphoria of “spinning round the skyline / when everything was new” in a dizzying way that reminded me of Neil Finn’s last solo album.

The ubiquitous influence of American writer Jack Kerouac on Crookes lyricist Daniel Hopewell is tangibly present throughout ‘Lucky Ones’, most notably in the song title ‘Roman Candle’, but also in the album’s underlying themes of wanderlust and escape from the monotony of everyday life. It’s easy to imagine the bright, hazy sheen of the album’s instrumentation as having been inspired by a long trek across the wide open landscape of the American Southwest. (Interestingly enough, I first listened to ‘Lucky Ones’ myself while jogging through a stretch of that same spectacular desert.)

Like any good road trip, the Crookes’ journey takes a few minor detours. The kicky rhythm of ‘If Only For Tonight’ could easily have turned into a Broadway show tune, perfect for a chorus line of dancers, but the prominently layered guitars keep it from veering too far off course. Similarly, the synth keyboard in the intro to ‘Six Week Holiday’ sounds like it might have been commissioned by a game designer at Nintendo until the song is redeemed by its jazz-tinged chorus. The blue notes happen in both the bass line and the vocal melody, where Waite deftly negotiates his lower register in order to pull off the smooth groove.

As always with the Crookes, Waite’s dulcet vocals are the perfect vehicle for Hopewell’s lyrics, finding the delicate balance between Hopewell’s cool ennui and barely-shrouded fragility. There is something vaguely French about the understated sentimentality in Hopewell’s writing, which he has recaptured here after straying from it somewhat in the abrasiveness of ‘Soapbox’. But in the end, as Hopewell himself said in this interview back in October, ‘Lucky Ones’ is essentially a very British record, and its expansive penultimate track ‘No One Like You’ improvises on the adage “there’s no place like home”. Vibrant brass and a glittering harp meld with reverberant guitars in a dynamic and dramatic climax before the album circles back around to ‘B.N.S Pt. II’.

‘Lucky Ones’ is thematically and sonically the Crookes’ most adventurous recording to date. Its bold experimentalism and brazen free spirit were clearly born from the success they achieved with ‘Hold Fast’ and ‘Soapbox’.  But perhaps more importantly, ‘Lucky Ones’ will without a doubt serve as a powerful catalyst for the next part of their journey.

9/10

The Crookes’ fourth LP ‘Lucky Ones’ will be released this Friday, the 29th of January on Anywhere Records and Modern Outsider. The band are set to play a run of UK live dates supporting the album in February before heading to America for SXSW 2016. TGTF’s extensive previous coverage of the Crookes can be found here.

 
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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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