More Album & Gig Reviews

Secrets Of The Witching HourTwo album reviews today with both Manchester Evening News and This Is Fake DIY giving it 3 out of 5, the former prefering the the previous album and the later liking the subtletie of the lyrics.

A little
more impressed us Unkle Rupert who recommends the album in his blog.

Portuguese blog Remixtures also mentions the album and quite a lot more, though I’ll have to have some babelfish fun before knowing exactly what’s there…

with some gig based stuff, Room Thirteen review the band’s show at the Fez in Reading, giving it an eventual rating of 11 out of 13.

The Crimea – Secrets of the Witching Hour (One, Two, Free)

3 / 5
AFTER The Crimea were predictably ditched by Warner when their magnificent 2005 debut Tragedy Rocks clocked a fraction of the sales it merited, band leader Davey MacManus’s response has been to go for broke.

Follow-up Secrets of the Witching Hour, unbelievably available as a free download from, is a work of boundless ambition. Regrettably, in shooting for the stars, with an ‘I’ll show them’ attitude, MacManus has massively over-reached himself.

Whilst Tragedy Rocks’ protracted genesis afforded him ample time to get songs and sounds just right, Secrets… is underwritten, with studio nous filling in the gaps with a bit of guitar here, a bit of keyboard there…

The results are structurally complex, but unfocussed. We’re still talking skewed pop here, just not, on the whole, grade A stuff.

Loop a Loop is something of a success, perfectly marrying Summer Holiday-era Cliff to a divine piano refrain. But its lyrics are sub-par.

Tragedy Rocks found MacManus largely in a reflective mood. This time around, he drifts into the existential and the frivolous. Only now and then does his idiosyncratic wit reveal itself.


Several Thousand Years of Talking Nonsense finds him thanking his lucky stars for ‘the one woman in a thousand who’s got a thing about guys with missing front teeth’. But it ain’t much of a tune.

TR combined blinding melodies with unforgettable lyrics for fun. Of Secrets…’s eleven tracks, only Don’t Close Your Eyes on Me pulls it off. Typically downbeat, and with deeply affecting sentiments (concerning the inability of dreams to replace reality), it’s an absolute gem.

That it is such an obvious standout is a reasonable reflection on the modest quality of many of its surrounding tunes. And as for the whining yank who punctuates the material with her infuriatingly inane ruminations – who invited her along?!

Perhaps this record was always destined to suffer by comparison to its predecessor. Still, we could have hoped for more.

Review by Stephen Gilliver for Manchester Evening News, 04/06/07.

The Crimea - Secrets Of The Witching HourThe Crimea – Secrets Of The Witching Hour

Artist: The Crimea
Rating: 3/5

Like modern day Dick Turpin figures, The Crimea staunchly deprive record company executives from their hand-fisted dollar by releasing their second album as a free download throughout May. If they continue to have these hard working folk tearing their hair out in disgust as they go it alone. And should this experiment fail, they’ll be filling Betty Turpin’s hotpot-laced shoes quicker than you can say ‘dandy highwayman’.

With a constant feel of futuristic intentions piercing the fold, it’s disappointing when the opening tracks are more befitting of a pastiche CD, as ‘All Conquering’ falls short of actualising the potential, and offers Ian McCulloch flighty touches before the Grandaddy-lite and deft instrumental of ‘The 48a Waiting Steps’.

By the point ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes On Me’ approaches, ‘Secrets Of The Witching Hour’ starts to become hypnotic and soothing as the wall of perception is broken down. Surprisingly, ‘Bombay Sapphire Coma’ isn’t a Big Brother style veiled slur, and the track benefits from a steady undercurrent and growing choral burst.

Holding an intro straight out of Crash Test Dummies‘ finest ‘Mmmmm’ drawer, ‘Loop A Loop’ progresses in to scaling piano and a more upbeat accompaniment which offers with it the best track on the collection, challenged only by ‘Light Brigade’, providing more of the same.

With many of the songs it’s the picking up of the subtle lyrical delights which provide as much enjoyment as the track overall; while flitting between lacklustre and soothing, The Crimea will stand to gain from allowing the songs to be heard by those who previously may have ignored it. Yet, fear not children, a CD copy which you can part with actual hard-earned money for is available from June.

The Crimea Official Site
The Crimea Myspace

Review by Nick Guy for This Is Fake DIY, June 2007.

The Crimea: Secrets of the Witching Hour – Free Download

Article in the Birmingham Mail last night advised me that I could avail myself of a free musical album by The Crimea, downloaded this morning, and as I began to listen whilst getting kids breakfast, making tea and such, basically not paying attention as I really did not expect a free album to be that good. You know what? I think it may be a very good album after all, so good in fact that I wanted to share it with you as well.

First impressions of the sound? I am getting smatterings of Arcade Fire and The Cardiacs, so if any of them your bag, get down diddling now, IT’S FREEEEE what have you got to lose?

Clicky Piccy:

The Crimea - Secrets Of The Witching Hour

Article from UnkleRupert’s Knee blog, 02/06/07.

Músicos profissionais aderem ao livre

Já não é novidade nenhuma que uma banda estreante publique o seu primeiro e até mesmo o segundo disco para download gratuito na Internet – e os brasileiros que o digam. Afinal, a autopublicação é uma boa oportunidade de chegar a um público de alcance global para os artistas que não têm nada a perder e ainda não assinaram um contrato com uma major ou uma independente, ou mesmo uma netlabel. Mas o que é que os músicos profissionais que já têm uma carreira estabelecida têm a ganhar ao oferecerem aquilo que ainda muitos consideram – erroneamente – o seu “ganha-pão”? Talvez mais do que se possa à primeira vista pensar…

Veja-se o caso dos The Crimea, uma banda Pop britânica que decidiu disponibilizar gratuitamente o seu novo álbum Secrets of The Witching Hour a partir do seu site oficial em formato MP3 de 128 Kbps, incluindo um booklet em PDF.

O grupo espera assim fazer chegar a sua música a um maior número de pessoas e obter mais dinheiro através da venda de bilhetes para concertos, segundo o empresário Stephen Taverner explicou ao Sidney Morning Herald. E parece que o golpe promocional está a resultar, pois até ao momento o álbum já foi transferido mais de 12 mil vezes. Por outro lado, na página da banda no MySpace pode-se verificar que eles já têm uma agenda de concertos bastante preenchida até ao final de Julho. Quem quiser, pode também comprar o CD a partir do dia 13 de Maio.

Até 2006, os The Crimea tinham um contrato com a Warner Music America, mas como as vendas do disco anterior, Tragedy Rocks de 2005, não ultrapassaram as 35 mil unidades, esta companhia discográfica decidiu romper o contrato, o quinteto britânico optou pela autopublicação. Em baixo, podem ver um vídeo de White Russian Galaxy, o segundo single do disco anterior, numa das primeiras actuações televisiva da banda, neste caso no já extinto Top of The Pops da BBC.

Article from Remixtures, 04/05/07.

The Crimea Give Away AlbumIt’s not easy being weird!

Rated 11 out of 13

This is the first time that I’ve been to The Fez in Reading, and I am impressed with the layout, and its laidback attitude, which includes sofas, and tables and chairs along one side. However, when The Crimea come onto the stage we see the drawback of this mellowness as the crowd remain quite unresponsive, and although clearly fans, they appear not too want to show their enthusiasm. Maybe this is because the crowd is a little older, or perhaps people remain more chilled in these parts!

Jumping straight into the bouncy and catchy tune from their new album, ‘Secrets Of The Witching Hour’, ‘Loop A Loop’ pretty much sums up The Crimea straight away with its intricate and tight music, scatty lyrics and singing from the majestically kooky, lead singer Davey Macmanus. When he sings out, ‘She’s all loop a loop’, it’s almost ironic as the Irish lead singer stumbles very close to the edge of insanity himself. But that’s what we love about him!

‘Good Vibrations’ from their debut album, ‘Tragedy Rocks’, is always a good song and popular live, but the first thing that I notice is that the microphones of the other band members are not up loud enough which is a real shame. One of the band’s strengths are the harmonies that are provided by both bassist Joe Udwin, and keyboardist Andrew Stafford. We have another new song, ‘Man’ before the brilliant, ‘Baby Boom’ which receives a big cheer, and has the great lines, “You can call me Fred Flintstone // Tarzan, king of the jungle // I guess I’m just a little prehistoric, pumpkin // Your place this afternoon // I guess you just weren’t interested // In getting drunk, and trying to start a baby boom…” It’s a song that has been around as a single for a couple of years before the debut album was officially released.

The Crimea are a band that don’t move around the stage very much, and Davey Macmanus isn’t one to get involved with speaking to the crowd at great lengths. Sometimes he comes across as a little embarrassed at being in the limelight, and does his best to hide behind the microphone stand. He is, however, totally charismatic in a pained artist kind of a way. At times he jumps around like a loon, swinging his acoustic guitar around like he’s fending of beards of prey, whilst other times he stumbles around like a drunk, or holds out his shaking arms whilst between lyrics speaking to some invisible entity that is hovering above him; but each time he hits the notes and sings perfectly in his distinctive voice that jumps between controlled screams and gentle and almost soothing slow notes. They stroll through two more new ones, the catchy, ‘Bombay Sapphire Coma’ and the brilliant, ‘Several Thousand Years Of Talking Nonsense’, before they play another of their former singles, ‘White Russian Galaxy’ – a song that they performed on Top Of The Pops.

Again the harmonies are missed slightly in, ‘Gazillions Of Miniature Violins’ although both Joe and Andrew are doing their best to sing as loud as possible. ‘Light Brigade’ is next which is two-and-a-half minutes of stomping fun, with the catchy line of, “We take no prisoners”, that somehow just get lodged into your brain! Davey then stands almost lonely in the centre after counting down with guitarist Andy Norton, for, ‘Requiem Aeturnam’. It’s a slow tune of guitar and vocals that is dreamy and trippy all at once before the crowd almost explode at the band’s signature tune, ‘Lottery Winners On Acid’. Suddenly everyone is singing along and I feel compelled to join in with the lyrics as we all sing, “If she gets a black eye // I want a black eye // If she gets a splinter // I want a splinter too // If she gets arrested // I want arrested // If she goes trippin’ // I go falling over!”

The band then down the instruments and walk off stage, and I’m wondering that with this crowd whether they will bother coming back out again! However with some enthusiastic clapping and a couple of whistles, The Crimea are obviously feeling generous and come back out to give us two more songs. The first one is a cover of that French song that is played on all of the adverts, I can’t think for the life of me what it is called, or who it is by (and will therefore annoy me until the day I die!), and the last song has Davey speaking the longest sentence of the night with, “It’s not easy being weird,” which I thought was a confession, but turned out to be the extended title of the song, ‘Weird’ that has this as the lyrics. Davey uses this fuel his strange jerky movements as he thrusts around like he’s having a fit, and this obviously rubs off on guitarist Andy Norton, as he too is jumping around, and even ends up in the crowd spinning around in a dizzy confused manner whilst fiddling around the fret with professional dexterity!

…And then the song ends, we get a salute from Davey and off the band go. Before they’ve even left the stage some 70′s disco starts up which only bemuses, and then amuses Mr Macmanus somewhat! The gig wasn’t as good as the one I saw them last March in Oxford, but they still play very well together, and this was a very tight performance. The new songs were well received, and half of the crowd admitted to downloading the new album for free from the band’s website (go there now and get your copy:, whilst we await the official release of the second album. The Crimea edge just that little bit closer to success with each gig, and they are truly something like you’ve never seen before!

Review by Jim Ody for Room Thirteen, 01/05/07.

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