THE CRIMEA

Will They Ever End…

Tragedy Rocks, Tragedy Rocks, Tragedy Rocks… It’s all I ever read about these days. And here’s some of the many things I’ve read recently:
A nice comparison of the UK and US versions (if not such a nice conclusion) from Pop Matters.
Another from Friends Of The Heros compares The Crimea to R.E.M. and Low.
While, with a 4.5 out of 5, Revolution give the album what looks like one of the best ratings on their site, at least, I can’t see anything else above 4 until halfway down the page.
A smaller, but just as good review comes from Blueyonder who also have a link to the Out Of Africa download.
Gigswise, Unpeeled have a short news post with the current UK tour dates, and add that the “album is just the right side of mind-bendingly fantastic” for good measure.
A decent review of the Portland Arms show by BBC Cambridgeshire ends by saying The Crimea are “on a journey to the stars”.
A long preview and info on the band from the News & Star may be a little late, but still worth the read.
Also a little late is IC Wales’ preview of the Boobytrap 5th birthday party on the 13th but it does have a small mention of the band.
Back to the proper reviews, The Downloader give the Camden Barfly show the once over saying “The Crimea pull it off brilliantly and give the fans exactly what they desire”.
Another small mention comes from Crud Magazine during their Reading Festival round-up.
Staying with the Crud Mag boys, they also have a new interview with Davey up, one of the better one’s I’ve read so far.
I’ll end with some more foreign news; the Dietnam blog contains the words Crimea, and that’s good enough for me. See you tomorrow with even more pointless links.

THE CRIMEA
Tragedy Rocks
(Warner Bros.)
Rating: 7
US release date: Early 2006
UK release date: 18 October 2005

According to The Crimea, Tragedy Rocks, but on their latest CD, it’s often black comedy instead of tragedy, and it pops and swirls and gets stuck in your head just as often as it rocks. These songs go down easy, but in a good way. Instead of being simple pop songs without emotional or creative backing, the songs are simple on the surface and immediately accessible, but the second and third listens reveal the emotional weight behind the excellent melodies and lyrics.

Lead singer Davey Macmanus’ voice produces a husky, throaty type of sound that comes out as a half-scream/half-sing. At times it’s reminiscent of Conor Oberst and Joe Strummer. Macmanus can certainly carry a tune, but you know in the back of your mind that he’d be a kick-ass yeller if the song called for it. His lyrics suit his voice because they often blur the line between upbeat and macabre, between trippy and sane. One song mixes references to pumpkins, Tarzan, and Fred Flintstone. And that’s all in one chorus. One of the happiest songs on the album features one of the darkest refrains: “If you wanna see my happy side / Better tell me that my girl just died.” These are conflicted, complicated songs packaged in a dangerously easy-to-swallow candy coating.

Any CD that opens with a song entitled “Intro” that actually is an intro, and an impressive little piece of classical piano music at that, is destined to be interesting. A worse band would have named it something pompous or crammed it full of strings or horns or kazoos or something else to prove the great irony of having an intro titled “Intro”. Not so with The Crimea. This is part of their charm, but most of it lies in their ability to shift textures and sounds from song to song.

“White Russian Galaxy” goes for the classic rock vibe. Count the instruments. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, especially if you’re wearing headphones. The following song, “Lottery Winners on Acid”, which was lauded by John Peel, switches the mood to Reggae style drums, breezy acoustic guitars, jubilant group-sung backing vocals, high-pitched xylophone, slide guitar, and nearly perfect lyrics: “If she gets a disease, I want a disease.” These opening tracks, along with “Baby Boom”, are pristine songs, perfect examples of what rock bands should be doing these days but are too afraid to do because it seems too easy. Guess what? Writing melodies this good is never clich?d. Neither are clever lyrics: “I don’t do cryptic clues / I guess you just weren’t interested in getting drunk and trying to start a baby boom.” The band are able to convey these excellently written songs with great production work that highlights the songs’ strengths with just enough bells and whistles so that it’s intriguing but not overwhelming or busy.

The hooks are everywhere. Macmanus attributes this to his writing method, which involves vocalizing each instrument first. Note to everyone: it works; do it now! A brief anti-war statement appears with the catchy chorus of “Bad Vibrations”: “With all these germs about / Feel the hurt, feel the pain / Feel the bad vibrations”. There’s even a goth/metal feel on “Opposite Ends”, though it’s a little over-the-top.

So where are the criticisms? Well, in one of the great reversals of history, the UK version might be a little stronger than the American version. The Beatles trimmed releases for the States, but The Crimea have done the opposite, bloating their American version. Maybe it’s a case Macmanus favoring his Irish brethren or Warner Bros. playing in to America’s obsession with quantity over quality. “The Great Unknown” is one of these bonus songs. It’s good, but it’s not on the same level as many of the masterpieces here. It, along with another bonus, “Here Comes the Suffering”, goes for an aesthetic that borrows from classic Western films and Pixies surfer riffs. “Howling at the Moon” completes the U.S.-only tracks with another weak addition.

The 10-track UK CD is a tight, excellent work, while the American version is obese with four songs clearly destined for the land of B-sides and soundtrack compilations. The bottom line is that The Crimea are talented. Really talented. So buy whichever version you want and enjoy the amazing songs. A little bonus never hurt anyone.

Review by David Bernard for Pop Matters, 09/11/05.

the crimea
tragedy rocks

With a verve and a nerve, with swing and swagger, with melody and passion The Crimea show with this record that gritty drama need not be swathed in the cod stadium rock pomposity of their peers. Tragedy Rocks oozes real life recollections and observations and drags them along set to a confidently melodramatic sound track that should set these lads apart in the good old fashioned chart quest. Emotively individual and passionately charming right through to the core this is an album that track by track never fails to thrill and chill in equal measure.

Kicking itself free from the expected restraints the album opens with White Russian Galaxy, a pseudo symphony for the disaffected youth of today as they surge forward into the real world. The Jauntily bleak Lottery Winners on Acid bounds forward with a declaration of intent and suggests that the song writing here is up there on a par with the likes of Johnny Bramwell and all those other mean street poets borne of northern decline and isolation.

Opposite Ends and Baby Boom see the same lyrical style depicting the decline of life whilst musically the tracks become much more intense, there is a certain, powerful surging tide in the former, whilst the latter is very much a wholesale slice of aching melancholia examining the end of something that was once great. I think they call it heartbreak.

Tragedy Rocks, well, it might not so much rock, but it swaggers and sways, it sweeps dramatically and swoops down on those desperate lives that it considers it?s prey. The most thrilling aspect is the extreme juxtaposition of the self loathing filled lyrics tied in with almost euphoric musical epics. It is in effect a two fingers to the ties that bind, to the loves and the losses, and to the rules and regulations that seem to try in vain to dictate the way to be or the things to do. Girl Just Died explores and explains this perfectly, utterly enthralling and life affirming, despite the bleakness and despair contained within.

Through the diplomatic Losing My Hair via the impossible alt country of Bad Vibrations to the back street balladeering of The Miserabilist Tango the temptation never wanes, the thrill never lessens and the pull of this record never lets go, it?s intense and frivolous, it aches and soothes at the same time and constantly draws the listener closer and closer before spitting in your eye with a direct and absolute dose of vitriol that strangely leaves you wanting more.

Closing the album are Gazillions of Violins and Someone?s Crying, they follow on fittingly with what has gone before, the former echoing the soundtrack to some dark, haunting thriller that?d be sure to leave the most hardened movie go-er a bundle of nerves. The closing track shows just how bleakness, desperation and isolation feeds the writer, that old aphorism that talent is born of a lack of belief in the future is held up for inspection here and seemingly, on this evidence at least holds its own.

Echoes of early R.E.M, Leonard Cohen and Low reverberate around The Crimea, and that is in itself no bad thing, three acts that have proved consistently brilliant in their individual portrayals of the underdog, the disaffected and the disillusioned should welcome this record into their respective libraries and embrace this band with gusto, with faith and with hope. And then maybe we?ll all see these dogs having their days.

We can but hope.

Review by Johnny Mac for Friends Of The Heros.

The Crimea: Tragedy Rocks (Warner Bros)
The Crimea have recently supported such well-established bands as Travis, Kings of Leon, Keane, Ash and Billy Corgan and when you listen to this album you?ll know why. Simply put, this album contains some of the best songs I have listened to in a long time. In places the music and lyrics are astonishing. Lottery Winners on Acid is just fantastic, as is Opposite Ends, which builds steadily to an indescribably good climax. The whole album is sprinkled with Magic Numbers-esque harmonies and spine-tingling melodies that affect you in just the way good music should. There are three or four tracks on this album which will hopefully ensure the album?s success on their own. The rest of the album doesn?t have quite the same instant appeal but it does seem to have the capacity to grow on you. If you have a few quid which you intend to spend on a new album, I reckon you should make it this one.
4.5/5

Review by by Alex Mitchell for Revolution.

the crimearecommended albums: 7th november
It doesn’t rain for ages and then it pours with albums, and this week we’ve got a bumper eight — EIGHT — albums of the week to cover off, so without further ado, let’s dive straight in!

the crimea: tragedy rocks
The Crimea are skinny white boys with guitars; articulate, literate loud and brooding, very much like a cross between The Strokes and Radiohead in fact.

download: out of africa

Review by rgb for Blueyonder.

THE CRIMEA
Portrait of a rock band investing their advance...
Yes, we know that they’ve gone and signed to major label, mega-corp evil-shits plc (hallo to all at Warners) but their “Tragedy Rocks” album is just the right side of mind-bendingly fantastic and, encouraged by a good review in Unpeeled, Warners have splashed out on a tour to launch it. So, go have some…
23rd Nov: Louisiana @ Bristol
25th Nov: The Forum @ Tunbridge Wells
26th Nov: Colosseum @ Coventry
30th Nov: Bitterscene @ Chelmsford
1st Dec: Railway Inn @ Winchester
2nd Dec: West End Centre @ Aldershot

Review taken from Unpeeled.

The CrimeaThe Crimea

A combination of passionate and sincere vocals more reminiscent of poetry than lyrics, convinces reviewer Nick Hayward that The Crimea are headed for superstar status…

The Crimea ? Portland Arms, Cambridge ? 2nd November

The Crimea are no strangers to playing live, having recently supported the likes of Ash, Keane, Travis and The Bravery on tour, to name but a few. The Crimea even carry a pristine new record deal with the mighty Warner Bros, and are well set to make their mark as newcomers today.

The CrimeaThe night started with a solid splash of The Strokes influenced, garage rock from The Heights, who supported the event. But soon enough, The Crimea made a striking entrance, with front man Davey Macmanus performing from within the small crowd that assembled around him. With moves reminiscent of the late Jim Morrison of The Doors, the vocals were delivered with passion and sincerity. The group gave an onslaught of experimental, alternative soft rock that explored a variety of mindsets and emotions. With poetry and abstract music combined, the Crimea have developed a variety of sounds for their exciting performance.

Interestingly, it was not always obvious where a song was heading. But the music did not lack direction at all. Instead, it would just continue seamlessly, often without the predictable structure of verses and a chorus. This kind of composition is very refreshing, especially considering that each instrument part still spoke out from amongst the rest. Also, the feel of the performance undulated along the way, with moods of anguish intertwined with moods of self belief.

Some song sections even came out of the blue, such as launches from tuneful melodies into syncopated jives. Such transitions in the music were handled very well indeed, and the beautiful flow was always kept up. Admittedly, this playful approach provides a sense of uncertainty to the music at times, but I don?t think classic rockers would be dissatisfied, as the energy was always emphatic, believable and moving.

Certain songs, such as the highly acclaimed ?Lottery Winners on Acid? have much ?sing along? potential. Yet sometimes the music becomes quite haunting in places. Surely these two characteristics can?t match up? It?s clear that The Crimea have a willingness to explore both themselves, and many more frontiers of music. Are they actually from Russia? No, but regardless, I believe they?re on a journey to the stars, and their music could easily take you on a long journey too.

Review by Nick Hayward for BBC Cambridgeshire, 08/11/05.

Boobytrap signs birthday bash bands

THERE aren’t many birthday parties where you don’t have to bring a present, or even know the people celebrating.

And there are not that many parties where there is an almost over-the-top line-up of music to keep you entertained.

But this is no ordinary party. It’s record label Boobytrap’s fifth birthday.

Five years ago the singles club was launched and had a successful run of putting out Welsh bands’ singles.

As the label will always tell you, they were named the “Best singles club ever” by Rolling Stone magazine.

The club originally started as a magazine, then it turned into the one-off singles club before becoming a fully-fledged record company, with bands on its roster and everything.

Currently they’ve got a whole stack of new Welsh bands including Attack & Defend, a full-time bin-playing rapper in the form of Ninjah, an ex Gorky with Richard James and some other bands from further afield.

Many of these are coming together to play a part in the label’s fifth birthday party at Clwb Ifor Bach tomorrow .

The Crimea – the Aberystwyth band and former members of The Crocketts who have signed to Warners – will be back in Wales to headline the night.

The band is currently winning plaudits from critics and fans alike with the release of their debut album, Tragedy Rocks.

They’ll be joined by established Welsh favourites, Kentucky AFC, Sleifar a’r Teulu and Zabrinski.

Favourites of Huw Stephens and signed to Super Furry Animals’ label Placid Casual, El Goodo is a late addition to an already packed bill.

On top of that new bands Attack & Defend, who supported The Go! Team on tour, will play with The Boyfriends, new Boobytrap signing TV-OD and The Keys.

And after the rock and indie pop music there will also be a showdown between North Walian rapper Akira the Don and former Boo Radleys frontman Martin Carr aka Bravecaptain.

The newest signing to the Boobytrap label, Ninjah, will be on hand during the night to compere so expect some strange goings on for the whole night.

In between all of this there’ll be DJ music and plenty of festivities to celebrate the label reaching school age.

It all starts at 7pm and will go on till late so make sure you have Monday off work to enjoy the night properly.

Boobytrap’s fifth birthday party is at Clwb Ifor Bach tomorrow

Review by Claire Hill for Western Mail, 12/11/05.

Live! The Crimea @ Camden, Barfly
——————————————————————————————-
Welsh quintet The Crimea made a breathtaking return to the UK last Tuesday, when they sensationally blew away a legion of fans at Barfly in Camden. Exploding onto the smoke-filled stage with a powerful rich bass-line consuming the breathing space like a thick fog, they made every animated head surface from their pints whilst sending chills running through each and every spine.

As the textured guitar chords soaked the stage, the crowd were drawn into a calm before the storm. Yet before they could even bait their breath Davey MacManus began to thrust his vocals out and Andy Norton stepped out of the shadows, sending out relaxed bursts of blues-soaked riffs.

As the set progressed they grew tighter, connecting through a lively arrangement of foolhardy adolescent bluster and thriving off a hugely appreciative crowd; ?It?s hard to be weird,? Davey cries. This may be so but The Crimea pull it off brilliantly and give the fans exactly what they desire.

A truly magnificent performance, which showcases the raw talent of this young, creative melting pot. Davey?s tight vocals and lyrics are stung with an attitude borrowed from punk with a presence and mind that seem like early Small Faces. This is truly a band that deserves attention. Pander to them.

Review by Adele Sandler for The Downloader.

Carling Weekend Reading Festival 2005

It’s a wheat thing. It’s a chaff thing. James Berry is on hand to do all the sorting in a genetically enhanced report of this year’s Reading Festival including lots of natural fibre.

SUNDAY

Davey Crockett rides the same passive/aggressive twitch he always did, now with The Crimea, only now he?s like Bright Eyes with horns, guaranteed to have never seen a loft apartment in his life?

Review by James Berry for Crud Magazine, 22/09/05.

CRIMEACO-ORDINATES – WHERE THE STARS ARE AT/THE CRIMEA

James Berry asks Davey McManus of THE CRIMEA, ‘Where’s Your Head At?’…

The Crocketts were always likely to implode at some point ? far too much in the way of kinetic energy and an excess of pent up adolescent frustrations. Made for an often fascinating spectacle whilst they careered through 2 albums and a mini, mind. There were loud guitars, raggedly wrung songs, plenty of swearing and occasional damage to venues the length and breadth of the country in the late 90s. There was always a tender heart buried in lead protagonist, the passive/aggressive oddball Davey McManus, though. And he dragged himself out of the car crash and started massaging that heart. The results of which, after years of honing and touring with new band The Crimea, turned into their fairly wonderful debut album ?Tragedy Rocks?. He?s still go that glint in his eye though, sparks always threatening to ignite, so it?s not an entirely easy ride. If you want to see his happy side, he tells us on his new album?s standout track, just tell him that his girl just died. See? We sent him some questions to see where his head was at?

Where are you now? What can you see?
We are driving to Liverpool. I?m sitting in the back. I can see swathes of black cloud and the dour English countryside, going under a bridge with a stupid pro hunting banner. It?s raining. No surprise there.

What was the last thing you ate?
Eating is for those who cannot control their urges, I live on Ecstasy and Westlife CDs.

What was the last album you bought?
I am not known for my buying of albums. I think it would be Buffalo Springfield ?Again? which I bought for my brother?s birthday, it?s an all time classic. It is kind of other worldly, Neil Young is really young and the last track ?Broken Arrow? is a kind of his version of ?Bohemian Rhapsody?. I thought it was amazing, my brother didn?t like it.

What was the last movie you saw?
Well I saw ?March Of The Penguins? on the plane the other day. It was pap. Morgan Freeman did the voicover, and he?s got nothing on David Attenborough. They tried to make penguins Hollywood. I didn?t think they were great actors, they were suffering all this hardship but never really showed it on their faces.

What are you most looking forward to?
Eternal sleep, with no dreams, and no couriers waking you up in the morning, and no phone and no conscience, and no poxy body and no one asking for a cigarette.

What do you hate right now?
I am sort of bored of hating things because I understand the reason I hate something. For example, I hate another band, Reason ? I?m jealous. I guess I hate people who cross me, but I have long given up exacting revenge. I hate myself most, because I am constantly reminded what a wanker I am every time I open my mouth.

What was the last thing you saw that you liked on TV?
I watched a documentary about the siege of Stalingrad, where men ate rats and eventually fellow humans, where soldiers waited like vultures beside dying comrades, in order to eat to eat the cadaver fresh before it froze.

Where or how do you feel most comfortable?
Alone, stoned, writing the new ?Relationship Of Command? .

What would you class as your most defining moment?
Probably deciding not to give up music. It was a massive decision to try again, which was mulled over for a long time, but since then we have given everything and it is slowly starting to pay off. But I?d like to think we haven?t had our most defining moment yet. And it is yet to come. Let?s hope before we start losing our hair, hopefully they will have another Live Aid and we can play at that.

What are your plans for tonight?
Well we are playing in Liverpool. So I am going to be guarding our hubcaps all night, No only messing I like Liverpool. We haven?t played here for yonks so don?t know what to expect. I plan to go for a skate when we get there, then smoke myself into a stupor, do some tai chi and go onstage. I?m not drinking as I have a kidney infection so I?ll probably read the bible for a while and then sleepage.

On tour at the moment:
2 November Cambridge The Portland
3 November Manchester Roadhouse
4 November Newcastle Academy II
5 November Birmingham Barfly
8 November Liverpool Barfly
9 November Stoke Sugarmill
10 November Carlisle Brickyard
11 November Glasgow Barfly
12 November Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire
13 November Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
14 November Leicester Princess Charlotte
15 November London Barfly
18 November York Fibbers
23 November Bristol Louisiana
25 November Tunbridge Wells Forum
26 November Coventry Colosseum
30 November Chelmsford Bitterscene at The Basement
12 November Winchester The Railway

Review by Alan Sargeant for Crud Magazine, 04/11/05.

Il caldo

Il disco dei Crimea ? proprio bellissimo.
Finir? in classifica a fine anno (anche se la Tortamagica l’ha messo al terzo -o secondo?- posto l’anno scorso) perch? qui ? appena uscito.

Il caldo mi fa passare la voglia di scrivere post decentemente lunghi e interessanti.

Rough Translation:

The Crimea’s CD is just beautiful. It’ll end up in my end of year chart (even if Tortamagica has beaten it to third place – or second – of the past year).

It’s so good I want to write a much longer, interesting post about it.

Post by Scritto on the Dietnam blog, 20/07/05.

Added to the The Crimea category/s. Follow responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Responses to “Will They Ever End…”

  1. Dave says:

    Cheers for all the links man, just a quick q or two about the US version if anyone knows the answer… these four extra tracks they’re getting; are they all re-recorded like the rest of the album or just the old recordings tacked onto the end for completeness?

    And what’s the fourth? I saw mentions of Howling At The Moon Won’t Make It Better, Here Come The Suffering and The Great Unknown…?

    If they’re new I might have to get a hold of this too when it’s out. Thanks again Christopher, keep up the good work.

  2. Christopher says:

    4 tracks is actually three, plus the intro is split from white russian onto it’s own seperate track. it’s the first release for here comes the suffering, the other two have been rerecorded (at least, parts have) but they don’t sound too different, the great unknown probably shows the most difference, here comes the suffering sounds pretty much the same.

  3. Denyer says:

    > The Beatles trimmed releases for the States, but The Crimea have
    > done the opposite, bloating their American version.

    The US version was released first (and is currently available online and in some record stores, with a promoted release to follow next year.)

    The UK release is cut, the US release hasn’t had tracks added.

    > The 10-track UK CD is a tight, excellent work, while the American
    > version is obese with four songs clearly destined for the land of
    > B-sides and soundtrack compilations.

    The Great Unknown was released as a b-side in 2003, subsequently becoming an album track in 2004. Neither of the CDs reviewed is the first release of Tragedy Rocks.

    Girl Just Died, a track singled out in the review for praise, also saw first release as a b-side in 2003. Opposite Ends, meanwhile, was a Crocketts b-side in 2000…

    Still, always nice to see research taking a backseat to ineffectual stabs at wit, eh?

    Regards,
    S.

  4. Denyer says:

    "these four extra tracks they’re getting; are they all re-recorded like the rest of the album or just the old recordings tacked onto the end for completeness?"

    The US version is the record the band intended to release; the UK version is at the behest of the label.

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