I love the cyclical nature of music, the fact that the sounds of your formative years despite going through many twists and turns manage to find their way back into your life. So I’m currently sat in my office space listening to the lilting sounds of Cranky George’s latest single surrounded by one of their members past history. To my left my old vinyl collection contains a stack of Pogues records; to my right is a shelf of music books including James Fearnley’s, autobiography of those days.
But that’s the past and Misery Road and the album it comes from, Fat Lot of Good, comes from a different place. A combination of geography and the cultural heritage that goes with location, and possibly the warmer weather of the west coast are all factors that inform the bands output. James celtic punk-folk of his youth might be in there somewhere but there is a lot more too it than that.
Old world folk traditions and new world country references blend easily on the album but there are some wonderful nuances and fine details, which create their unique sound. Perfect Skin resonates with Tex-Mex vibes whilst an East European gypsy jive raises its head on tracks such as Katyusha and Waltz in Blue and if there is such a thing as Parisian café punk then The Bones is it.
There is no two ways about it, it’s a great album, one that wanders the world looking for inspiration, and cross pollinates established traditions and musical identities and manages to weave them into a sound that speaks of everywhere and nowhere. World music used to imply a style that could be identified with a specific place, indigenous and with a certain recognisable ethnicity. As the world shrinks, maybe the term is better suited to a sound that speaks about the movement and of people, the exchange of ideas, the mixing of cultural heritage and interplay of musical traditions. And if you are not sure of what that means, Cranky George provide a perfect users manual.