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Manchester music reviews

Cry Baby at Helium Records

Cry Baby - EP & Album

Reviewed by Yvonne Cawley September 2012

 

I’m not quite sure what is going on at the moment, but there seems to be a definite 60s revival in the air. Now maybe I am a little bit more sensitive to this having, just hosted a 60s themed Murder Mystery Party (which was well ‘groovy’ by the way) with the fantastic music of the time helping to set the mood. What with the current Sainsbury’s advert with the ‘Hey, Hey, we’re the Monkees’ track and, on my recent trip to Primark, being hit with the abundance of black and white mod style clothing plus lots of psychedelic prints and short pink and blue bobbed wigs, I wondered if I was perhaps missing something.

 

Maybe it is a hankering back to the past – or just that there is nothing new or exciting about today’s music? Having just listened to Cry Baby’s EP and Album, this 60s resurgence is definitely out there and if there is a consumer demand for all things 60s then Cry Baby have delivered it with knobs on!

 

I was asked if I would like to review Cry Baby’s new EP and Album, and initially wasn’t too sure. For one thing, I’ve never written a music review before and secondly, what if I didn’t like it? I am the kind of person who listens to music and either likes it or doesn’t, but don’t normally dissect or justify why! However, Cry Baby made this task exceptionally easy for me.

 

Now bear in mind I was listening to this music blind (or should that be deaf! I’m not sure) so had no indication/preconception of the type of music I was about to listen to and at the time wasn’t aware of the press leaflet outlining the influences on the band, especially Danny Coughlan, lead singer, and main man. Listening to the first few songs, I wrote down 60s vibe, Morrissey and for one song a slightly eerie twin peak-esque and a sort of Jim Morrison/Doors feel (‘Water into Wine’ track). So was pretty made up when I read the press release stating that this first album “is a love letter to the artists and records that shaped Danny Coughlan’s Bristol childhood, principally those by Elvis, Roy Orbison, The Smiths, Scott Walker, Phil Spector and Joe Meek, the Beach Boys and Jesus & Mary Chain” – Well looks like Danny has done them proud. So I was on the right lines.

 

Danny Coughlan, Cry BabyDon’t be misled though into thinking that Cry Baby are just rehashing and churning out old 60s tunes, as nothing could be further from the truth. What they are doing is taking something that worked well in the past and using the influences that this music has had, and adding their own stamp and uniqueness which to me made their songs feel familiar but distinctly different. The beautifully clear voice of Danny is extremely emotive with such feeling and depth. Coupled with excellent guitar and percussion backing that doesn’t overpower the wonderful vocals but works perfectly in harmony – it’s not overdone, it’s basic almost, but creates such a wonderful finished sound. Clear vocals, melodic uncluttered or uncomplicated backing accompaniments – worked perfectly. Although a definite 60s vibe all the way through, this is anything but a carbon copy, it has a unique sound. Vocally strong throughout with songs and lyrics to evoke ones emotions – I loved it! Give me more.

 

On the EP entitled ‘We’re Supposed To Be In Love’ I was treated to 4 great songs - 2 originals and 2 covers; Daniel Johnston’s ‘True Love Will Find You In The End’ and ‘Gloomy Sunday’ made famous by Billie Holiday. I must confess that I had never heard of ‘True Love Will Find You In The End’ or of Daniel Johnston himself, so checked it out on YouTube. What I heard was a sad haunting song, just a man and his guitar, a kind of fragile, wavering voice. This was a very simple production but had a kind of endearing quality to it. However, I much prefer Cry Baby's version, not just because the production quality is far superior, but find Danny’s voice is stronger with a rather soothing, relaxing quality about it, even though the lyrics and songs he sings are often sad and extremely emotive.

 

Gloomy Sunday was created in 1933 by Hungarian Rezso Seress and has been dubbed the Hungarian Suicide Song and was later made famous by Billie Holiday in 1941. Urban legend has it that this tune was banned from the BBC as it was deemed to be detrimental to wartime morale & in the USA it was banned due to the fact in prompted suicides! Yes it is a sad little tune but then I love Leonard Cohen songs which I know some people perceive as being melancholy personified or just downright depressing! Once again YouTube to the rescue to listen to Billie’s version and, as with the other cover, I preferred Cry Baby’s version. The vocals are smooth, evoking the feeling of pain and despair and yes it is sad, but surprisingly uplifting – a good song sung beautifully.

 

Cry BabyWith Cry Baby, there is something familiar in all the songs – I don’t mean rip-off at all, all different and unique but not like listening to a brand new album or artist, like something you’ve had for years, a fave album you bring out and feel utterly relaxed with – singing along or just there, comforting in the background. For example the song ‘This Time It’s Over’ reminded me so much of Elvis’s ‘Crying in the Chapel’ though I don’t know why, as the chords and tempo are slightly different, but each time I listen to it, I come back to the same conclusion and with ‘A Misery Of Love’ it is Morrissey through and through, but unique – mind you Misery and Morrisey go together so well!!

 

I also loved the album cover of a plain white background with the words CRYBABY written in black, reminding me so much of the Bauhaus LP I bought years ago (and still have somewhere tucked away in the loft). Simple and bold, yet somehow a little unnerving.

 

Cry Baby’s ‘We’re Supposed To Be In Love’ EP is released 24 September and they are beginning their first headline tour on 15th September when they play at Edinburgh Electric Circus. Danny will be joined by Mark Frith (who co-produced ‘Crybaby’ alongside Chris Hughes aka Merrick from Adam and the Ants) on guitar, Charlie Jones on Bass, Stacey Haldane on drums and Nina Coughlan on percussion.

 

They will be playing at The Castle Pub, Oldham Street, Manchester on Tuesday 18 September, tickets cost £8 (can be booked via The Castle’s website or through www.ents24.com/web/artist/172060/Crybaby.html. If anyone is around on that date, you should pop along and witness something quite special – I’m sure that they will be even better live. Visit Cry Baby's website by clicking on http://www.ohcrybaby.co.uk/.

 


Editor's Note: Are the Arts having a renaissance? Well if you want to discuss this particular topic you should come along to the Manchester Salon on Monday 10 September and join in trying to answer the interminable question of how we contemplate art today.
 
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