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Scottish rogues deliver the rock

The Fratellis - Costello Music
(Interscope Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Mar. 15, 2007
The Fratellis

Review by Tony Bonyata

It's not often a band shoots out of the gate as quickly as the Glasgow rock trio The Fratellis have since their full-length debut Costello Music was released last September in the U.K. Not only did they snatch the 2006 Brit Award for Best Breakthrough Act last month and get labeled "the best new bum band in Britain" from the influential U.K. music publication NME, but their song "Flathead" was also recently used in Apple's successful iPod ad campaign. The online virile buzz they've also been receiving has only helped catapult them as the next big thing - at least in the indie-rock world. Now with Costello Music hitting U.S. shelves this week it needs to be seen if they can bring the fervor from over the pond here to the States, or if they'll fall flat as T. Rex did when they tried to crack America in the early '70s on the strength of their immense popularity in the U.K.

Too often hype thrust upon on a new act is just that - trumped-up hyperbole that fails to deliver when push comes to shove. Not so with these Scottish rogues, however. The guitar-fueled rock on Costello Music is an amalgamation of sexed-up '70s glam rock, early '90s Britpop and a touch of American roots music transformed into a style that only the Brits seem capable of pulling off so well when traversing blues and country music.

From the bravado rockers such as "Henrietta" and "Baby Fratelli" to the black-snake-moan blues dirge of "Doginabag" to the country-battered "Vince The Lovable Stoner," which also incorporates a bit of country-jazz guitar along with a slash-and-burn six-string solo, the breadth of this effort is vast, while never straying too far from the band's no-nonsense rock & roll approach. Despite vocalist / guitarist Jon Fratelli (aka John Lawler) admitting, "she was into the [Rolling] Stones, I was into the [Stone] Roses" at one point during "For The Girl," the tune instead sounds awfully close to the snappy cool originally crafted by NYC hipsters The Strokes. With so many indie bands aping The Strokes' sound these days, The Fratellis fortunately have the sense to keep it to just this one peppy number. The trio further forages deeper into the amphetamine-driven punk of "The Gutterati?," but proves they're at the top of their game when they swagger and sashay into the glammy guitar rockers "Chelsea Dagger," "Got Ma Nuts from a Hippy" and the stuttering rhythm of "Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night."

Whether or not The Fratellis can bring their immediate overseas success here to the States is yet to be seen, but with the buzz already building online, on TV and on radio, not to mention five high-profile showcases at SXSW (the largest music industry festival in the country) in Austin, TX this week, it appears their day in the sun here in the U.S. may have just arrived. And with music as infectious and energized as this, it's about time a band that isn't afraid to rock-out as unabashedly as this gets the attention they deserve.

Watch The Fratellis' "Chelsea Dagger" video

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