Cranky George – Nightmare
Cranky George has quite a lineage. The beginnings of this outstanding Los Angeles headquartered five piece can be traced back to the late 70’s founding of seminal Irish/UK folkie punks The Pogues and through the brief nineties run of The Low and Sweet Orchestra. When that run ended, accordionist and vocalist James Fearnley continued working with fellow Low and Sweet Orchestra members Dermot and Kieran Mulroney in the first incarnation of Cranky George. That configuration produced one well received EP, but demands placed on the members from other opportunities curtailed their abilities to follow their release with any sustained, multi-career building. When, at last, the chance presented itself for the trio to write and record a full length effort, they decided to augment their sound with the addition of two new members. Brad Wood, famed producer for bands like The Bangles and The Smashing Pumpkins among others, joined on bass while Sebastian Sheehan Visconti, a renowned session contributor in the Los Angeles area, joined on drums. The band’s debut full length album, Fat Lot of Good, hits outlets in mid-October and its first single, “Nighttime”, is a beautifully realized musical composition with talent to burn.
The webbing of guitar, drums, bass, and voice Cranky George creates isn’t transparent or lightweight. Instead, it moves with impressive mid-tempo grace and the drumming from Visconti lends an enormous amount of drama to the proceedings without ever landing in a heavy handed or overly obvious fashion. There’s a density of sound that the band achieves without ever sonically bogging themselves down. Much of this is due to separation and balance. The production emphasizes the unit over individual performances and creates an unity of mood that the song sustains throughout. Cranky George, in this song, likewise proves themselves skillful at manipulating the audience. There’s no great crescendo in the song – instead, there’s a series of small climaxes that never quite release the tension until the final concluding sendoff. “Nighttime” has a rousing spirit, but it is also exceedingly patient and more than willing to make listeners wait for the payoff.
The vocal is largely handled solo, but the other members provide key harmonies throughout to buttress the singer’s efforts. The vocal melody is lyrical without ever becoming unduly precious and there’s an ever-present tasteful hand guiding the vocal arrangement as there is with the instrumental work. The lyrical content is well phrased without ever becoming too ornate and there’s a beautifully organic quality to the text and music alike that helps this song never feel plotted out or otherwise arbitrary. Instead, it seems like it came together exactly like this and that Cranky George required no further premeditation.This five piece admirably carries on the tradition established by their previous units and expands on it with the added experience and a sleek, modern sound. Cranky George will undoubtedly capture the attention of many with their debut album and the single “Nighttime” is a nourishing taste of what is to come.