That Was Just For Starters

Oh boy, oh boy. First it rained, then it hailed. Now the levee has well and truly broken and I’m ten foot under a torrent of Crimea news. I’ve got over thirty articles to get through so I’m just gonna shut up and get going. Me thinks I’ll start with yet more Tragedy Rocks reviews, and remember you can view the things by clicking on the link to the respective sites, or should the review have been removed, (or you’re just lazy) hit the big white More button at the top of this post to read them right here on this site.
And what a way to start. Manchester Online gave it a whopping 5 out of 5 stars even though the reviewer’s information was a bit off.
Next up, Indie London are rather indifferent about the album though still manage much praise like the following: “There are more hits than misses, particularly during the opening half that transports you across the emotional rock spectrum”.
Most probably the best compliment The Crimea have ever recieved comes from who, in their review say “its even the kind of album that could see them win a Mercury Music Prize nomination”. Needles to say, they quite liked it.
Going back a year, here’s a review of the original Tragedy Rocks Release by Six Different Ways saying who liked the “Thoughtful lyrics, tight instrumentation [and] sexy production”.
Music blog Fufkin mention the CD in a recent entry along the lines of “texturally satisfying, stylistically invigorating and drenched with passion”.
Not quite so impressed were Swing Batter Better blog who reviewed it for the October issue of Crack magazine, but then, they were expecting a “thrash-core metal” album. Ahem…
Sticking with blogs, LiveJournaler jamesgilmer raves on about the US version due to it’s “big-sound songs and a bit of swagger”.
For the grown-ups, Adult Contemporary Essentials’ review give it a final rating of 9 out of 10.
Now, I dunno who ripped of who, but UK Online have a copy of exactly the same review as ACE, but change the rating to 3 out of 5. Very naughty.
Although an original review, Productshop NYC are one of the few people who don’t like Davey’s dark lyrical manner, even if they do like the music.
Over in Nottingham, the BBC also give it a less than great review, but mainly due to their thoughts that “Tragedy Rocks might be too clever for its own good, struggling to cross over to the mainstream”.
But we end the reviews back up the ratings with a 7.5 out of 10 from The Communion who say Tragedy Rocks “sounds a lot more accomplished than a few other debut albums by hyped new bands”. Thank god for that.

The Crimea – Tragedy Rocks
(Warner Bros)

Rating: * * * * * (Excellent)

WHEN in 2001 poetic rockers The Crocketts were jettisoned from a streamlining V2, leader Davey Crockett reverted back to his actual name, Davey McManus, and reconvened his band as The Crimea.

They put out limited singles Opposite Ends and Like Lottery Winners on Acid the following year, the latter being championed by Mark and Lard, but fans were forced to endure a patience-sapping wait for a full album.

And boy was it worth it. An emotional rollercoaster ride, Tragedy Rocks draws the listener in from the false waltz intro to opener White Russian Galaxy and simply does not let him go.

Its lyrics never less than intriguing, it possesses a passion matched only by Hard-Fi of this year?s crop of bright new things.

White Russian Galaxy recalls The Auteurs at their least obtuse, McManus spitting out words with all the genuine aggressive intent of a fired-up Luke Haines.

Like Lottery Winners on Acid, whatever the title phrase means (good trip, I guess), could not be more different. Organic and carried along by basic organ and xylophone, its chorus has the feel of a school assembly sing-a-long.

Baby Boom

McManus often sings like Paddy McAloon, and Baby Boom in particular recalls Prefab Sprout, with its sharp reflections on love?s troubles: ?I guess I was a little prehistoric? I guess you just weren?t interested in getting drunk and trying to start a baby boom?, he muses wryly.

Rippling piano permeates several tracks (Opposite Ends, The Miserabilist Tango). endowing them with a powerful emotional resonance. Only Girl Just Died with its fatalistic ?Want to see my happy side? Better tell me that my girl just died? refrain fails to make a proper connection.

And what melodies! Some instant, others creeping, Tragedy Rocks is a raffle where every prize is a brand new car. The melodic high watermark is Bad Vibrations, whose layered vocals are utterly devastating. ?Feel the hurt, feel the pain? implores McManus, and you do.

Quite the most affecting record I?ve heard all year.

Review by Stephen Gilliver for Manchester Online, 17/10/05.

The Crimea – Tragedy Rocks

Track listing:
1. White Russian Galaxy
2. Lottery Winners On Acid
3. Opposite Ends
4. Baby Boom
5. Girl Just Died
6. Losing My Hair
7. Bad Vibrations
8. Miserabilist Tango
9. Gazillions Of Miniature Violins
10. Someone?s Crying

THE Crimea have the distinction of being one of John Peel’s last great discoveries after their early independent single, Baby Boom, was named in the Top Ten of his final Festive Fifty (2003) ahead of Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.

They have also drawn favourable comparisons with artists as diverse as Low, Elliott Smith, The Flaming Lips and Leonard Cohen and have found prestigious friends in both Travis and Kings of Leon (both of whom asked them to be their support after they’d heard demos).

The debut album, Tragedy Rocks, certainly demonstrates their diversity, embracing as it does a vast soundscape that is both quirkily endearing and oddly frustrating.

But while some parts of the long-player soar to emotional highs, other parts become too drenched in melancholy that doesn’t always sit comfortably alongside the overall tone of the record.

That said, there are more hits than misses, particularly during the opening half that transports you across the emotional rock spectrum.

Opening track, White Russian Galaxy, is a particularly addictive introduction, packed with crisp melodies and guitar riffs as well as the husky-toned vocals of frontman, Davey McManus.

It gloriously showcases the band’s penchant for penning debauched, bitter-sweet tales of mean streets, meaner romance, good gin and not-so-good times wrapped in their own inventive style.

There’s a carnival feeling attached to the rolling guitar loops of Lottery Winners on Acid, a trippy, happy go-lucky effort that conjures memories of both The Polyphonic Spree and The Flaming Lips.

While the darker, edgier Opposite Ends comes dripping in melancholy and menace, with McManus’ vocals emerging as a cross between Robert Smith’s and Razorlight’s Johnny Borrell’s.

Peel’s favourite, Baby Boom, is worthy of the late great DJ’s admiration and arguably the best track on the album, unfolding with a hypnotic guitar riff and containing plenty of angst-ridden vocals.

It’s lazy, intoxicating style is terrific for kicking back to if you’re in a reflective mood, especially since its imaginative lyrics manage to reference Captain Caveman, Tarzan and Fred Flinstone.

Further highlights come in the form of Losing My Hair, which opens with a guitar solo Coldplay would be proud of, before hitting you with more of McManus’ gruff vocals; while there’s an upbeat feel to the urgent Bad Vibrations courtesy of more addictive guitar loops and a catchy chorus.

Thereafter, the album continues to explore different soundscapes but draws to a downbeat close that embraces the melancholia of Elliott Smith and the slow, deliberate vocal style of Leonard Cohen.

Someone’s Crying is a particular culprit and closes the album on a depressing note that earlier tracks don’t deserve.

It’s a shame, for much of what comes before is magnificent in its sonic ambition and lyrical playfulness. Can we have more of the same on the sophomore effort please?

Review by Jack Foley for Indie London .

The Crimea

?Tragedy Rocks? may be The Crimea?s debut album, but the story of its creation starts seven years earlier, with the tale of prolific Welsh punkers, The Crocketts.

The Crocketts were fronted by Davey McManus, a singer with distinctive, edgy vocals and a talent for writing quirky songs about life, love, Nintendos and cursing in front of the kids.

The Crocketts released a couple of successful albums and bunch of EP?s, but were eventually dropped by their label, so McManus and drummer Owen Hopkin went into hibernation in an East London ghetto, and re-emerged, like a butterfly from a cocoon, as The Crimea.

Despite the name change and a couple of new band members, very little changed in reality. It?s evident from ?Tragedy Rocks? that the band still have the same vocal style, the same character driven lyrics and the same catchy guitar riffs as their earlier incarnation.

The album does have a more mature, darker sound than The Crocketts, however, and McManus? skills as a songwriter and poet have developed further. Throughout the album McManus lyrically conjures up snapshots of the lives of bleak characters in dysfunctional relationships, with his musical arrangements adding to the dark undertones in the songs.

In ?Baby Boom? he sings of a failing relationship; ?You can call me Fred Flintstone/ Tarzan, King of the jungle/ I guess I was a little pre-historic, pumpkin/ at your place this afternoon.? And in ?Out of Africa? he sings of a failing life; ?Gone to the pub in pyjamas and slippers again/ Driven only by the Herculean desire/ To fill my body with anything / that helps me forget it’s a body in the first place.?

The song ?Someone?s Crying Lord? also takes a Kum Ba Yah lyric to deep murky depths of a Nick Cave standard. ?Someone?s been butchered Lord/ Someone?s been smoked.? Nothing is sweet and jolly in McManus? world.

McManus has been described as ?the Lewis Carol of his generation? and it?s easy to see why that comparison is deserved. These songs tell the tales of characters that could easily belong in a 21st century Alice in Wonderland, and McManus? vocal style is that of a mad hatter at a tea party.

McManus? own brand of musical madness is so distinct that this album could well have been The Crockett?s third album rather than The Crimea?s debut, and there is certainly no reason why the old Crockett?s fanbase should not transfer over.

At least their label is giving them better backing this time around. This version of ?Tragedy Rocks? is a re-recorded, re-mixed version of the album which the band first self-released in 2004, and it should see them widen their audience and its even the kind of album that could see them win a Mercury Music Prize nomination.

In the end, it makes no difference what the name of the band is, or who plays bass, this album is dominated by McManus and his enigmatic writing style, and it?s well worth following him down the rabbit hole into his mysterious musical world.

Article by Ian Everett for

The Crimea – Tragedy Rocks:
Thoughtful lyrics, tight instrumentation, sexy production, The Crimea’s d?but is as good as we could have hoped after being teased by all those singles. The Crimea is made up of former members of The Crocketts and even more difficult to pigeonhole. I suppose you could try to imagine a Welsh Flaming Lips after a few pints.

Original Tragedy Rocks review from Six Different Ways, December 2004.

So Much Music, So Little Time

What passes for art-rock in 2005 would be a ‘genre’ I have taken the liberty to label as ‘widescreen rock.’ Add another find to this burgeoning list – the Crimea is an Irish outfit headed by sometime poet Davy MacManus, whose affinity with Brian Wilson’s “pocket symphonies” guarantees that each song is texturally satisfying, stylistically invigorating and drenched with passion. Thus, new album Tragedy Rocks (Double Dragon/Warner Bros) with tracks like “Lottery Winners On Acid,” “Losing My Hair,” “Opposite Ends,” “Bad Vibrations” and “White Russian Galaxy” are timeless pieces that, whilst paying homage to their musical origins are never enslaved to them – allowing a fresh mix of dynamics that is eclectic yet resolute.

Review by Kevin Mathews for Fufkin blog, October 2005.

The Crimea
Tragedy Rocks (Warners)
Disappointingly not the thrash-core metal outfit that the name suggests, The Crimea, one suspects, would run a mile at the very thought of something as icky as War. Instead we get a likeable ragbag of jaunty Fountains Of Wayne meets Athlete pop and over-earnest emo-lite with a nod to Conor Oberst style introspection. Enjoyable, if somewhat undermined by an occasionally cringeworthy set of Sixth Form lyrics.

Review by Swing Batter Better blog for The Crack magazine, October issue.

Lost in a White Russian
Currently listening to The CRIMEA’s new album Tragedy Rocks and it’s ace. I had previously been exposed to them when Warren Ellis mentioned “White Russian Galaxy” somewhere and called it something like the “best swagger song” he had heard in a while (and he’s right, it is). Except for that one song, which was excellent, I hadn’t heard much from them since I had just DL’ed the song and then kind of lst track of finding more stuff.

Anyway, their new album is up at Rhapsody even though their official website says it doesn’t get a UK release until later this month and a US release in early 2006. It’s a fine album and after casting about looking for a new band to listen to and not really finding anything that caught my interest for quite time (I’ve been bored of music for a few months now, especially “indie” music) it’s a great listen.

It’s not earth-shattering, nor will it cure cancer, but big-sound songs and a bit of swagger make it The Crimea one of my fave bands at the moment. They remind me of the Beach Boys in a funny way, though their sound isn’t much alike. Perhaps it’s the big-sound and a bit of the feeling that rolls off the songs, but there you go. Funny enough, I just had a look at their website and their drummer says that the Beach Boys were one of their influences as they liked that kind of “pocket symphony” sound.

Review by jamesgilmer via LiveJournal.

The Crimea
Tragedy Rocks
Warner Bros

Sometimes British bands end up all sneery and attitude-first, so it is refreshing, in an age when anyone cares what Pete Doherty does, to hear a debut that lets the music do all the talking. Like a modern day Kinks, Tragedy Rocks presents wholly-resolved songs laden with melody, dynamics and lyrics: rock with intelligence and invention, and a good measure . The late John Peel loved their single Lottery Winners on Acid, the happiest and most spellbinding song here. The band, at turns, sound like others such as Australian band The Church, Ed Harcourt, mid-80s Waterboys, with touches of the Beach Boys (the latter probably the most intentional, for example on Bad Vibrations). The highlights of this album suggest a band that has a real star in frontman Davey McManus. Although there are more than a few directions they could take musically, on this evidence, the mix here certainly means nothing gets old.

ACE rating 9/10

Review taken from Adult Contemporary Essentials.

The Crimea – Tragedy Rocks
Musically, this record is above par. Lyrically, it’s a complete disaster. It’s a shame too. I would have loved to recommend this album but the lyrics are painful to listen to. The singer has a nice voice, somewhere between Mark Everett and Elliott Smith, but every time he sings songs like “Lottery Winner On Acid” you can’t help but cringe.

Review by Jason from Productshop NYC.

The Crimea album sleeveThe Crimea – Tragedy Rocks
This band has a lot to live up to – in their independent days the single Baby Boom (included here) was in John Peel’s final Top 10 Festive Fifty (2003).

Describing The Crimea’s sound isn’t easy. The opening thirty seconds of White Russian Galaxy sounds like it’s going to turn into a symphony before it abruptly stops and begins again in normal song format.

There are shades of Flaming Lips / Grandaddy / Waterboys and Gregg Alexander in there and song titles like Lottery Winners On Acid and The Miserabilist Tango show the band’s leader Davey MacManus has a sense of humour.

The fear is Tragedy Rocks might be too clever for its own good and therefore struggle to cross over to the mainstream.

Review by Vaz Malik for BBC Nottingham, October 2005.

The Crimea
Tragedy Rocks

Release Date: 3rd October on Warner

The Crimea have a bit of a history and some not fucking bad achievements already under their belts.

Whilst being hand-picked by Travis to support them is nothing to really boast about, having already played SXSW as well as making it into the top ten of Peel?s Festive Fifty in 2003 is pretty neat.

Despite all this, ?Tragedy Rocks? is The Crimea?s debut album, which thankfully sounds a lot more accomplished than a few other debut albums by hyped new bands. Opener ?White Russian Galaxy? sets the listener up with a quirky indie rock track, kind of like Modest Mouse with the Flaming Lips? knack for story-telling. It?s not exactly as flamboyant as those bands, although the imaginative use of instruments (organs, glockenspiels, mandolins, well that?s what they sound like) throughout the album is done in an interesting, understated way.

?Baby Boom? brings The Crimea to a more controlled, spacey rock sphere with dreamy guitar noises, even some harmonica blues. Yet other tracks crash about in the kinda way geeky way American indie rock bands do, with vocalist Davey McManus being the less annoying Conor Oberst. With the variety and invention never really straying too far out of the conventions of US college rock or mainstream indie, the songs remain solid, although it would be nice to hear The Crimea really thrash out something more experimental. For now, ?Tragedy Rocks? will do.


Review by smellie for The Communion

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