The Fratellis
Costello Music
[Fallout Records]

By Bonnie Stiernberg

Reason number 1,001 why I love Steve Jobs: besides bestowing upon the world the greatest invention since the lightbulb, Jobs and his Apple cronies have now helped Scottish trio The Fratellis make the leap across the pond.

Their single, “Flathead,” is the ridiculously catchy tune behind the flashy colors and dancing silhouettes on the latest iPod commercial. While some accuse the punk band of selling out, the ad has left their wicked harmonies and delightfully nonsensical lyrics ringing in the ears of the American public.

The band, which consists of Jon Fratelli on lead vocals and guitar, Barry Fratelli on bass and Mince Fratelli on drums, manages to balance garage rock with carefree lyrics and lighter sounds to create an album that is unapologetically fun. On “Vince the Loveable Stoner,” Jon smirks, “I haven’t seen a pupil in his eyes for sixteen days/The Catholic girls love him in a hundred million different ways/And he’s been up for days/In a thick malaise/He’s only living till the salad days.”

“The Gutterati?” is a great song that sounds like a long-lost bonus track off of The Clash’s London Calling. “Henrietta,” “Chelsea Dagger” and “For the Girl” are fun, danceable tracks in which the band’s ska and pop influences become apparent.

Jon Fratelli’s best vocals come on “Doginabag,” a raw-sounding, slower song, and “Ole Black ‘n’ Blue Eyes,” the final track, gives listeners an enjoyable, mellow chorus and a chance to catch their breath. Strangely, “Whistle for the Choir,” the album’s only other slow song, is the most forgettable track.

Whether or not The Fratellis can hold on to their mainstream success and become more than a flash in the pan remains to be seen, but if Costello Music is any indication, it’s only a matter of time before America is singing along with Scotland’s latest sensation.

Grade: A-

Modest Mouse
We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
[Epic]

By Keith Hollenkamp

Modest Mouse is a good friend. Sure, they have changed over the years, as friends normally do, but they still have those specific qualities that made everyone love them in the beginning. With their latest album, Modest Mouse wishes to renew that friendship with their old fans but still tweak their style to intrigue newer fans. Just as they did with their breakout release Good News for People Who Love Bad News, they proved that they could still write great songs as well as write accessible pop songs like “Float On.”

With We Were Dead, Modest Mouse manages to strike a good balance with songs that will appeal to the masses, as well as songs that should satisfy those fans wishing for The Moon & Antarctica part two.

The aquatic themed album starts off with the aptly titled “March Into the Sea,” which acts as a great introduction for the rest of the album. Lead singer Isaac Brock’s distinct vocals sound ]sincere as he croons out lyrics such as “I’ll be beating my heart’s record for speeding.”

It is the records lyrics that keep many of the songs from mediocrity. Some tracks, like “Fire it Up,” show that Brock can make something special even with simple guitars and bass lines backing him.

The album moves along with their first single “Dashboard,” which should prove to be just as popular as “Float On” ever was. Other tracks, like “Florida,” also provide catchy guitar riffs and lyrics that should be all over the radio in the next couple months.

Brock’s songwriting ability truly shines with songs such as “Parting of the Senses,” which drags the listener in with its soft acoustic beginning and leaves them intrigued with its powerful ending as Brock screams “Someday you will die and somehow something’s going to steal your carbon.”

While the overall product is another solid record from the band, it definitely has its distractions. The album can feel awkward at times when songs don’t seem to flow well from one to the next. This sometimes causes the record to lose its momentum, but it doesn’t cause too much of a problem.

It is refreshing to see bands like Modest Mouse make the transition from indie obscurity into the spotlight and maintain the traits that made them who they are. It is also refreshing to see a band release quality album after quality album. Let’s just hope they keep the streak up, because who likes losing a good friend?

Grade: B+

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