Cranes set standards in sound
British band refuses categorization with enchanting and powerful mix of styles
By ANDY DOLAN
It's truly refreshing to see a band like The
Cranes bursting into the music world. It seems
like it has been so long since a band has come
along whose music not only refuses to be catego-
rized, but creates its own wonderful standard of
sound and emotion that most bands would not
dare attempt to imitate. The music of the Cranes
does just that, with a beautiful sense of simplicity
that is both enchanting and powerful.
With their second full-length LP, "For-
ever," The Cranes follow in the footsteps of bands
such as the Sundays, Sebadoh and Pavement by
creating music that shrugs off the growing shadow
of pretentiousness that looms over the world of
"alternative" music and mystifies listeners with
its wonderful simplicity. Their honest, fresh ap-
proach to writing songs often allows them to tug
at every imaginable emotion with little more than
a simple, repetitive piano motive or two chords on
an acoustic guitar. As vocalist/bassistAllison Shaw
explained, "There has to be some sense of true-
ness about it... If we do a recording that sounds
like we didn'tmean what we were singing or what
we were playing, then it doesn't work at all,
especially on the more minimal songs... If a song
is only based around three notes, the atmosphere
is really important for it to work and to sound
While the group's brilliant debut LP,
"Wings of Joy," received mostly rave reviews
from both the British and American music press,
some reviews unfairly labeled The Cranes as just
another doom-and-gloom gothic band, a descrip-
tion which the band takes exception to. "Some of
the songs sound a bit melancholy or sad," admit-
ted Shaw, "[but] there has to be a sense of there
being a way out of that... we wouldn't ever want
to glorify that sense of sadness; there has to be
some positivity so that it can have more of an
uplifting effect." By comparison, "Forever" is
somewhat more diverse in sound, from the lazy
calmness of "Cloudless" to the screeching guitar
noises of "Adrift," and this tends to add to the
range of emotions that one feels through their
music. "I hope that ['Forever'] is the sort of album
you can listen to from beginning to end. The mood
was pretty similar throughout 'Wings of Joy,' but
I think this album is slightly different in that way.
With each record we always try to do something
that you haven't done before, but without chang-
ing direction altogether," explained Shaw.
The band made their first trip to the United
States as the opening act for the Cure's "Wish"
Tour. Despite playing only a thirty minute set,
they were received very enthusiastically by Ameri-
can audiences. "We were surprised that we got any
reaction at all on the Cure tour," Shaw recalled. "It
was really great when we felt that people accepted
the songs that we played ... Sometimes it would
have been nice to play longer, but we can do that
now when we're doing our own tour."
The contrast between sounds on "Forever"
and "Wings Of Joy" allows the Cranes to build a
fascinating live show. On The Cure's tour, few
could have been prepared for the breathtaking
mood that they would create in the stadium set-
ting. "Sometimes our quieter songs seem to fill a
large space more than our noisier, guitar-based
songs," observed Shaw, "but we try to create a
contrast of atmospheres when we play live so that
things don't just happen on one level ... you can
have a really peaceful section and more of a sense
of friction at certain points in the set ... that gives
a sense of the set going somewhere."
Not surprisingly, The Cranes are extremely
excited and a bit overwhelmed about their first
headlining American tour. "It's really great to be
able to come back by ourselves and play clubs and
have people come and see us!" Shaw exclaimed.
The last time the Cranes were in"town, they
managed to put on an amazing live show in just
thirty minutes. Now that they're headlining their
own tour, their unique sound will be allowed to
flourish within the amazing atmospheres that they
create, an experience that is sure to leave just
about anyone excited and a bit overwhelmed.
The Cranes will be performing this Thursday at
Industry in New Pontiac. Doors open at 8:00
p.m. Tickets are just $3. Call 334-1999 for
Following a successful opening slot on the last Cure tour, the Cranesnow headline.
" Nirvana stays true to itself
By NIMA HODAEI
'Oh well, whatever... nevermind'
-"Smells like Teen Spirit" (1991)
'Teenage angst has paid off well
Now I'm bored and old.'
--"Serve the Servants" (1993)
While teenage angst has certainly
paid its rewards to Nirvana, the band
sounds anything but "bored" or "old"
on its latest release "In Utero," the
long anticipated follow-up to
"Nevermind.""InUtero" silences crit-
ics who were so quick to cast Nirvana
Songs like the crash and burn
"Tourette's" and the poignant "Milk
It" are vintage Niryana circa the
"Bleach" days. Guitarist and vocalist
Kurt Cobain along with bassist Krist
(formerly Chris) Novoselic and drum-
mer Dave Grohl have finally gelled
together as a cohesive unit without
forgetting (or ignoring) their collec-
tive pasts. They're sensible enough
not to retread old turf, but wise enough
to appreciate those roots nonetheless.
Cobain's lyric writing has also
come together here. He delves into
literature with "Scentless Apprentice"
based on Patrick Susskind's novel
"Perfume," slams the ape mentality in
all of us on "Very Ape" ("... if you
ever need anything please don't hesi-
tate to ask someone else first ...") and
even finds time to sniff some glue on
"Dumb." The usual bits and pieces of
incomprehensible poetic phrasings are
missing from the album, although the
lyric sheet certainly doesn't hurt ei-
Steve Albini (Big Black) record-
ing this album is not quite the mistake
many people originally predicted. His
infamous "anti-melody" approach
fortunately fails to rear its ugly head,
although his sharp sense of noise does
work into several tracks like the afore-
mentioned "Tourette's." For the most
part, however, songs like "Serve the
Servants," "Dumb" and the first single
"Heart-Shaped Box," are some of the
most melodic tunes Nirvana has ever
For older fans of the group, the
inclusion of the tongue-in-cheek
"Rape Me" and"PennyroyalTea" will
be greatadditions on this album. Stan-
Unlike some few and far
between moments on
"Nevermind," "In Utero"
never lacks punch or
drifts into mindlessness.
Call this a "coming of
age" If you will.
dards on Nirvana's set list for years,
only now do both these songs get the
treatment they justly deserve in a
Nirvana is definitely wiser and
generally more mature on this album.
Unlike some few and far between
moments on "Nevermind," "In Utero"
never lacks punch or drifts into mind-
lessness. Call this a "coming of age" if
In the final verse of the album,
Cobain sings, "all in all is all we all
are." Sure, Kurt. We couldn't have
said it better ourselves.
aside after its meteoric rise to success
a couple of years ago.
The new album's success can be
attributed to its sheer musical diver-
sity. It is at once loud, soft, crude,
witty and melodic.
Far from being a confused bouilla-
baisse of random sounds and ideas,
the group focuses these seemingly
contradictory styles into a cleverly
constructed whole, which says a lot
for a band that had a world of expec-
tations piled on its shoulders for this
The Cure's new release, "Show,"
could just as easily have been titled
"Wish: Live." Of the 14 tracks on the
album, 8 of them are from the group's
last release in 1992. This fact alone,
however, should not necessarily be
reason enough to stop you from pur-
chasing the band's first official live
album (ignoring the countless boot-
legs available) in quite a while.
Recorded right here at the Palace
of Auburn Hills during the group's
two-night stop in July 1992, "Show"
brims over with new Cure favorites as
well as a few older classics. "Pictures
of You," "Just Like Heaven" and
"Inbetween Days" all make their ex-
cellent, although obligatory, appear-
ances, along with more recent radio
hits such as "High" and "Friday I'm in
The sound clarity on this album is
terrific for a live recording, although
more than one song actually comes
across as a bit too over-produced, giv-
ing it an almost studio quality. While
Robert Smith and troupe have hardly
ver snnndeA no enod live, the soonta-
skeptics would have you believe, they're cooler, better and tastier than ever.
.F 5 5 I2 HEL.O
additions to alive album that stretches
no further back than songs off "The
Head on the Door."
Perhaps the lack of older songs is
indicative of the Cure today. When
these songs fail to attract interest in an
album it speaks loudly about the newer
wave of young fans at their concerts.
"Show" is coming out in conjunc-
tion with a future video release of the
band's two shows in Detroit. People
interested in older Cure live material
should be sure to also get "Paris"
which comes out next month as the
companion set to "Show." These two
albums put together should provide
fans of the group with a definitive live
collection of the Cure's 15 year re-
- Nima Hodaei
The Boo Radleys
What could jazz great John
Coltrane and British dream-pop band
the Boo Radleys possibly have incom-
mon? They both have created land-
mark works called "Giant Steps;" and,
happily, they are equally successful at
what they set out to do. "Giant Steps"