The Fratellis are almost my favorite band. If The Beatles didn’t exist, they would easily be my favorite, but I don’t think any of us want to live in a Beatle-free world, so they’re just going to have to settle for second place. A few years ago I heard what turned out to be Chelsea Dagger in a beer commercial, and I went, “Oh my God, I love this! I need to look this up!” I then proceeded to not look it up and completely forget about it until it came on Pandora one day and I went, “Oh my God, it’s that song from that beer commercial!” I looked them up, listened to Acid Jazz Singer, and was hooked.
At this point in time the band had broken up, so I had to resign myself to the fact that I’d never get to see them live, but there were two really excellent albums available that I could be grateful for, so it was all good. Then 2013 rolled around and the music gods smiled upon us. The Fratellis were a band again! They had a new album coming out and were going to tour America!
On November 3 I had the privilege of seeing them live at The Paradise in Boston and had what I feel I must describe as a really lovely time. “A really lovely time” is not a very rock and roll phrase. You might be thinking I’m comparing this concert-going experience to a book club meeting or a knitting circle, but that’s not my intent. The energy was high and the performance was fantastic, but the reason the word “lovely” comes to mind is because that whole night was permeated with a really infectious positivity that I’m fairly certain emanated mostly from The Fratellis themselves. Having a good crowd helped too, but you definitely got the sense that the band was genuinely happy to be there, that they were having more fun than anyone in the audience, and that, for everyone present that evening, all was right in the world.
And then, as if the universe said to itself, “What would make this the best night of Sam’s life?” they played Runaround Sue in their encore. Of all things! I grew up listening to a lot of oldies, and Runaround Sue is probably in my top five favorite songs of all time. Someone there recorded it and put in on YouTube, which is great because now I can relive it over and over again. Thank you, YouTube user “Gregs Videos.” You’re my favorite.
If at this point you’re reading this and going, “Can I we stop talking about that one specific concert? This is boring. I wasn’t there!” I hear you, so I’m just going to point out my favorite tracks from each of their three albums.
From Costello Music:
Listening to this feels like sitting on your porch on a sticky summer night while there’s a party going on in the house that you’re just not feeling.
Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night
An interesting mix of suggestive lyrics and a sing-song-ish melody.
One of the things on my bucket list was to sing this with a bunch of drunk people, which I got to do that night in Boston! Also, it’s in Hot Fuzz.
From Here We Stand:
A Heady Tale
The energy of this song is practically contagious. What does “tear another hole in my brown shoes, and we can all sleep for a while” mean? I don’t know, but I love it.
Whatever a straggler’s moon is, it seems to leave melancholy in its wake.
Acid Jazz Singer
The song that sold me on The Fratellis, way back when.
This song with its cast of characters is a lot like observing people on public transport. You momentarily get a glimpse into the lives of these strangers, but at the end of the journey you really don’t know anything about them.
From We Need Medicine:
The opening sounds a lot like Elvis, it mentions Harry Belafonte…there’s all kind of good stuff in this song.
This Old Ghost Town
Dancing under streetlights suddenly sounds really fun.
Seven Nights Seven Days
You know those crappy days where you’re like, “What am I doing with my life? Where am I going? What’s the point?” This song gets it.
We Need Medicine
So good that it’s also the name of the album.
Honorable mentions to Shotgun Shoes and Whisky Saga. In addition to oldies, I also grew up listening to a lot of groups like Lynyrd Skynyrd and CCR, and I can hear a bit of that same vibe in these two songs.
I’ve included a lot of links so that you could try out a lot of songs and hopefully decide that they’re all amazing, but I definitely encourage you to purchase these albums if you can! They each have a very specific feel to them that you only fully grasp if you listen to them in their entirety. It’s a worthy investment.