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Klang - The Rakes

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Artist: The Rakes / Audio CD released 2009-03-23 at V2 Int'l

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      13.07.2009 15:22
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      Not as good as the band's debut album

      I can't claim to have been a fan of The Rakes for particularly long, however I did have a little listen to their 1st album and was impressed, the 2nd I hear was a bit of a disappointment but I can't confirm that without having had a listen - Klang however seems to be back to form.

      The Rakes seem to take influence from numerous other bands - notably to my ears Blur and numerous new wave/ post-punk acts like Nick Cave and Gang of Four whilst also borrowing from contemporaries like The Killers and Franz Ferdinand. They are almost always upbeat, only occasionally turning the tempo down to build it back up again.

      The vocals change from typical indie vocals (Futureheads etc) to a more robotic new wave sound which goes well with the more electro influenced tracks.

      The Final Hill has quite a strong message and the beat also sounds familiar but some of the longer winded instrumental sections seem to make the song lose its initial intensity.

      Numerous other tracks make their mark - "Bitchin in the Kitchen" is quite cool which vocally sounds like Jarvis Cocker meets Right Said Fred with a glammy trashy electro sound to the music, but none are as good as the selected singles from the band's debut.


      1 You're In It
      2 That's The Reason
      3 Loneliness Of The Outdoor Smoker
      4 Bitchin' In The Kitchin'
      5 Woes Of The Working Woman, The
      6 1989
      7 Shackleton
      8 Light From Your Mac, The
      9 Muller's Ratchet
      10 Final Hill, The

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      02.07.2009 03:21
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      Back to The Rakes

      I must be horribly out of sync with new releases at the moment, maybe it is because I haven't bought NME in a good few months, or maybe it's because I'm not at college, and regularly frequenting HMV as often as I used to. I don't know what it is, but I seem to be a bit behind on the releases of new albums. It wasn't actually until I saw an advert for Bob Dylan's latest, and began writing a review on it (shelved for a week or so, need to listen to it more), that, when looking to see what NME had said about the album, I noticed a few other recent releases from bands I often listen to. These included, 'The Enemy', 'The View', 'The Decemberists' and of course, 'The Rakes'.

      So, upon discovering that there was a few albums I needed to invest in, I went straight to my main musical source, and got myself a copy of "Klang", the strangely titled latest release of British band, 'The Rakes'.

      I first began listening to The Rakes, at the same time I began listening to most of the Indie stuff, the year 2006. The girl that I fancied the hell out of (who was later my girlfriend for a year and half) introduced me to a number of bands, just through general conversation. From The Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things, The Decemberists, Maximo Park and The Duels, to obviously, The Rakes.

      Now she had heard of the Rakes in a rather cool way. Her rather well connected cousin, Amy (who worked directly for Gordon Brown), had a boyfriend, well now husband, Jim. Jim had a rather good job as a director, and often worked on Music videos, one day, he invited Sophie down to London with him, when he was shooting the Rake's video for, I think, "All to Human", a track from their first album. So, she was lucky enough to spend the day on the set, and got a chance to meet the entire band.

      == The Rakes ==

      The Rakes formed in 2004, and are a four piece from London fronted by Alan Donohoe. They released their first album in 2006, entitled "Capture / Release". That was a fast paced, down to earth album. It wasn't lyrically deep, but it was honest, about day to day life, featuring songs such as "22 Grand Job", "Work, Work, Work (Pub, Club, Sleep), and "We Are All Animals". It is still one of my favourite albums, bursting with energy.

      In 2007, they release "Ten New Messages", their second album. At first, I was hugely disappointed with it, it lacked the passion and energy from their debut. However, it did manage to grow on me, and it was apparent that their sound had matured a bit, making it a good follow up, although, still, in my mind, not as good as the first.

      So, now, here we are in 2009 with "Klang", their third album which was released on the 23rd March. I am nervous about listening to it, since from their last album slipping slightly from their debut, and the general state of the British music scene, which seems that follow up albums seldom manage to keep what made the band great in the first place, I just hope that it will be a good one.

      I am however, reassured slightly, with Donohoe stating that _"The London music scene is so dull -it's like wading through a swamp of shit. We just wanted to be somewhere more inspiring"_ in response to being asked why he recorded the album in Berlin. Maybe they will be bringing about a change?

      And then, NME go and reassure me even further, in fact, to the point I now can't wait to listen to it when they say _"Thank fuck the real Rakes are back. They worried us with that fun-free second album, 'Ten New Messages', but after regrouping, it seems their energies have returned."_

      So without any further ado, let me begin...

      == The Album ==

      '''You're In It'''

      From the off, I think we have the Rakes back again, and I couldn't be more happy, opening with a real Rakes sound. It has the throbbing that was in "Capture/Release" the quick strumming of the guitar, and the real fast paced fun sound. The clangy guitar sound flows through the entire song, and is perfect getting my legs tapping to the sound immediately, so much promise from the opening track. The drums are strong and the bass forms the perfect backing. The guitar chords are slightly reminiscent of "Violent" from their first and the only complaint I can make, is that perhaps the lyrics are a little too quiet, and drowned out ever so slightly from the music.

      '''That's the Reason'''

      A thudding rough sounding drum beat starts this song off, then some lyrics pour over the top before a deep lashing from the guitar comes in. The song builds tempo, before all coming together for the chorus. A melodic mash, with multiple lyrics over each other and the drums, bass and guitar all flowing separately but in perfect co-ordination giving the album it's second great track. It is fast paced, with a strong beat and a fun guitar sound to it.

      '''The Loneliness of the Outdoor Smoker'''

      Again starting strong, it jumps straight into another face beat song. The drums pounding firmly and the guitar thrashing away, before slowing down a bit for the verses. The base guitar chords and the drums form a sweet layer for the song, with a little riff played over the top every now and again, it works perfectly. Yet again, I am nodding my head and my legs are tapping.

      '''Bitchin' in the Kitchen''''

      Opening with a strong bass line, pounding deeply, with the odd thrang of the guitar, and a firm drum beat. The song jumps into it's chorus and it is well formed, but I'm not getting the same feeling as I have with the previous tracks. The drums may be pounding but my legs are still, it doesn't have that head nodding feel to it, and I don't really know why. Maybe it's a little too samey as some other music, it definitely doesn't quite have the Rakes' essence in it, so here goes the chances of a flawless album.. Strangely, with the title it had, I didn't expect a particularly good song.

      '''Woes of the Working Woman'''

      An eerie sounding piano opens this song, it possesses an operatic feel to it, and a faint distance in the recording, it then perks up a bit, with a more jolly piano sound, although with though eerie sounding chords still prevailing. The bass line and drums enter, the bass carrying the song nicely while the drums set the tempo. Then the feeling changes again. The guitar comes in, with and the tempo adjusts slightly, there are some "ooohs" in the background- ah, this must be the chorus, with refrains of "I'm so tired..". The next verse is different yet again, the guitar having been kept in, creeping over the piano which has now been shifted into the background. Then in for another chorus, which on second listening has a really nice feel to it, which is nicely kept flowing through to a bridge, the chords and riffs they have chosen work so well, and it has shaped up to be the best track in my mind so far. The song then lapses into piano, and fades out...

      '''1989'''

      The first single from the album, which was released March 16th. It opens with a typical mesh of the instruments then in a Rakes style goes to mainly drums and bass with thrashes of guitar intermittently for the verse. Donohoe's voice, with it's strong London sound to it, really relishes in these sounds, it's like another instrument in it's own right. While it is a good song, getting the approval from my tapping foot, I don't know why they chose it as a first single. It doesn't have that awesomeness to it that, for example, "You're in it" has.

      '''Shakleton'''

      Beginning with just voice and the thrashings of the guitar and a clatter on the cymbals, the song then blends as the drums begin in earnest, the smooth, yet disjointed beat which is provided and the guitar becoming more dominant. Yet again, it changes direction completely, with a soft, near acapella sound with the blending of voices, and just a soft acoustic guitar behind it, though a rising drum beat brings us into another phase of the song, where the lyrics are spoken rather than sang, and the drums are a constant roll. Phase four of the song, and the bass is really strong to your left, and the lyrics are echoed to your right and the guitar balanced firmly in the middle.

      '''The Light from your Mac'''

      A very strong bass line opens this song, with nothing else other than the vocals. The bass riff is really catchy, and then, when the perfectly suited guitar stylings are balanced atop, the song is made. The drums seem more distant in this track, less important. The song is made much more firmly with the bass and the guitar than in previous tracks. Throughout the song, the bass line is allowed to come back to full dominance a few times, which is a refreshing change to fully guitar and drum led songs. All too often is the bassist thrown at the back of the song. There is another chorus and bits, before back to the bass for an abrupt cut off end to the song.

      '''Muller's Ratchet'''

      Drums begin, and a piano soon follows. A repetitive shifting of two chords is played, and then a slow, two note bass line is added. A weird electronic sound comes in, creating a really strange atmosphere. A quick throbbing of the drums tells you the song is beginning properly now. The strange sound is replaced with guitar chords, but the piano is still firmly in the background, playing over and over, never changing in tempo nor pitch, keeping this strange feeling going. I am actually so absorbed in the music, I forgot to listen to the lyrics, barely recognising they had began.. woops. The song changes a bit, the cool piano has disappeared for a chorus, before what I can only describe as a mashing of feedback and distortion features for about 10 or so seconds in your left ear. It is brilliant, and I'm sad to hear it fade off, back into the verse, which still, missing the piano piece, sees the return of that cool strange sound from earlier. There is a sweet breakdown with a solid bass line dominant in the forefront of the music. I think I now know what my favourite track is! It's changing style, bringing in great sounds and mixing them all perfectly is awesome.

      '''The Final Hill'''

      Starting with an eerie sound again. It has a mid-tempo guitar riff and heavy bass line, racked over with a strong resistant drum beat. The eerie tone then fades off for a while, for most of the verse, before returning in the guitar riff. I like it, however this song isn't delivering much of a punch. I'm not getting blown over, I don't feel the guitars or drums thrashing through my brain and stimulating my toe-tapping instincts. I'm not sensing a great track here. Mediocre at best.

      == Summary ==

      So, there we have it, The Rake's third album. They said that the London scene was like wading through shit, and they have managed to wade right through, reaching the other side and running a mile or so. I cannot really say that it is as good as "Capture/Release", they just can't find the same energy and passion that that album had. But, when you think that they had managed to lose their way with "Ten New Messages", it is excellent to see them back on the path they originally were cycling down.

      It's horrible to think that I nearly completely overlooked this album, not even hearing of it's release, or even of the single "1989", and I am hugely glad I discovered it had been released.

      The Rakes have certainly given something fresh back to the music scene, nearly managing to take me back to 2006, with the pace and feeling of the tracks. Although, I think it has been released at the wrong time of the year, since it is really strongly giving me summer feelings, so much so that I am sure that given a couple more listenings, and being out in the sun (rather than sat in my room at 3am..) it will sound all the better.

      It isn't a flawless album, but, let's face it, very few albums these days are. There are a couple of weak tracks, mainly "The Final Hill", and "Bitchin' in the Kitchin'", the latter of which is the worst on the album, and the former, seems to have been wasted. I think that "The Final Hill" had a lot of promise behind it, it had some good riffs and the opening was great, setting the way for what could have been a much, much better track. I think if they had perhaps given it a few more takes, and trimmed out some of the shit they would have had a real winner.

      Of all the tracks, "Muller's Ratchet" definitely is the track which has stolen my attention straight off. While favourite tracks change over time, it is certainly the one which holds an excellent mixture of sounds, riffs and beats, although a bit more of that mental feedback would have been ace, since it was a really deep built sound, which kinds of just threw my head around, and I loved it.

      One of the things which they have been rather brave doing is the transitions in songs. Throughout a number of the tracks, the music has changed, faded around, different beats, different riffs, and it has done it with little precision, creating something a little random. That could have been dire, but it does work really well in most cases, and obviously gave them plenty of chances to play around.

      Nearly every song is unique, they have completely different sounds, whilst still embracing the Rakes lively sound, and that is just what I like to see. There are a few tracks which draw comparisons in sound to "Capture/Release", mainly, as I had noted, "You're in It", reminding me of "Violent".

      It is the first album I have heard in a good while which seems to capture and release the energy of the band behind it. Most songs grab your attention, shake it around a bit, and hurl it back at you, all in under the time it takes for you to make a cup of tea. They have really caught me with the album, and I am deadly eager to see them live, with my mind subconsciously creating the feeling of a gig in my mind. These songs just pour passion for decent music.

      '''NME''' said they were returning to the Rakes which we knew and loved.
      '''Lasse''' (drums) said he was more proud of this than anything they've ever done.
      '''Jamie''' (bass) said that it's the essence of The Rakes
      '''Matt''' (guitar) said that this record captures what the Rakes are about- energy, shortness, abruptness and directness.
      '''Alan''' (vocals) said that he thinks it's the strongest album they've made

      And I agree whole-heartedly with all five sentiments. It is going back to the original sounds of the Rakes, creating a brilliant album, with it's short and direct energetic songs. I can see so clearly why they would be proud of it, and I just hope that it is as successful as it deserves to be. I sincerely recommend this album, especially to people who were disappointed by "Ten New Messages", thinking that The Rakes had lost their edge.

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 You're In It
      2 That's The Reason
      3 Loneliness Of The Outdoor Smoker
      4 Bitchin' In The Kitchin'
      5 Woes Of The Working Woman, The
      6 1989
      7 Shackleton
      8 Light From Your Mac, The
      9 Muller's Ratchet
      10 Final Hill, The