By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — One of the biggest rock bands to come out of Scotland since the turn of the millennium, garage-tinged indie band the Fratellis bring catchy songs from their latest album to the Fillmore Monday night with explosive UK duo Blood Red Shoes providing support.
Founded in Glasgow in 2004 after singer/guitarist John Lawler and bassist Barry Wallace answered an ad placed by drummer Gordon McRory, the trio took its name from the villainous family from The Goonies and adopted matching surnames in the same fashion as the Ramones (Jon, Barry and Mince Fratelli). The threesome bashed out an energetic style of hook-heavy rock that mixed the melodic focus of ’90s Britpop with elements of the modern garage-rock revival spearheaded by the likes of the White Stripes and the Stokes and quickly had record label reps scouting the band.
The band signed a deal with Island Records and issued a self-titled EP in 2006 that was followed by their official debut Costello Music in the fall of that year to positive reviews and huge UK chart success, scoring hit singles with “Henrietta,” the wistful love song “Whistle in the Choir” and the singalong favorite “Chelsea Dagger” that would eventually become an arena standard at sporting events. The band got more exposure in the States by serving as the opening act on a handful of dates on the Police reunion tour and having their song “Flathead” featured in an iTunes ad.
The group’s self-produced follow-up effort Here We Stand didn’t have any breakout hits like their debut, but tunes like the piano and percussion driven “A Heady Tale” and the soaring “Look Out Sunshine” proved the trio hadn’t slipped into a sophomore slump. The musicians put the Fratellis on an indefinite hiatus in 2009, taking a break that allowed the band members to pursue other projects including Lawler’s collaboration with songwriter Lou Hickey in the band Codeine Velvet Club and solo recordings and Wallace playing with British outfit the Twang.
The trio reconvened in 2012 and began writing new material that would be released the following year on their third album We Need Medicine. While the recording showed flashes of the group’s early rambunctious spirit, the sound moved in a more mature and restrained direction with songs like “Rock N Roll Will Break Your Heart” and “She’s Not Gone Yet But She’s Leaving.” The Fratellis would bring back producer Tony Hoffer (who had helmed Costello Music in addition to albums by Beck, Depeche Mode and fellow Scots Belle & Sebastian) to record Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied in 2015.
Helping the band find a more sweeping, ambitious sound, Hoffer’s guidance led many to hail the collection of songs as a return to form and a step forward for the trio. While the band would embark on a UK tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of Costello Music in 2016, last year they once again teamed up with Hoffer to record their latest salvo of infectious pop hooks, In Your Own Sweet Time, which saw release last March. For their current tour to promote the album, the Fratellis will be joined by kinetic British alt-rock duo Blood Red Shoes at the Fillmore Monday night.
Contemporaries of the Fratellis, the explosive Brighton-based duo of guitarist/singer Laura-May Carter and drummer/singer Steven Ansell came together in late 2004 after the dissolution of the two musicians’ previous bands. Matching Ansell’s volcanic drumming with Carter’s corrosive riffs and the pair’s knack for tandem and call-and-response vocals, Blood Red Shoes independently produced it’s raw debut vinyl EP less than a year after the band started and quickly earned a buzz with their fiery sound.
The duo released a series of singles featuring songs that recalled the dynamics of the Pixies and Nirvana as well as the stripped-down, frenetic intensity of NYC dance-punk band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs that led to a record deal with V2 to issue their savage debut album Box of Secrets in 2008. Propulsive anthems like “You Bring Me Down,” “I Wish I Was Someone Better” and “It’s Getting Boring by the Sea” coupled with a growing reputation for their cathartic, sweat-drenched live performances made Blood Red Shoes a festival favorite in the UK and Europe (including an appearance at All Tomorrow’s Parties after an invitation by curating band the Breeders).
The band further refined their stripped-down approach with help from Arctic Monkeys producer on Fire Like This two years later. The use of one of their songs featured the soundtrack to the cult Edgar Wright film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World exposed the band’s compelling music to more ears stateside, but BRS has inexplicably not made its way onto U.S. airwaves despite the obvious radio-ready appeal of their songs. The pair released two more acclaimed albums — 2012’s In Time to Voices and their self-produced eponymous album in 2014 that was recorded in Berlin — but has remained largely a UK phenomenon.
Though they went through a period of quiet after the digital-only rarities compilation Tied at the Wrist, the band finally released its first new song in two years last April. Two more tunes including the glitchy electronic-tinged “Bangsar” and the brand new track “God Complex” have since been aired, but so far no specifics about a new album have been announced.
The Fratellis with Blood Red Shoes
Monday, April 30, 8 p.m. $25