Reviews

Shopper Delight - "The Swell Season"

"Frames front man Hansard has teamed up with classically trained Czech vocalist and pianist, Irglová to produce this album of affecting songs and compositions. From straight songs to piano instrumentals, "The Swell Season" affords an insight into a whole other side of Glen/The Frames, as well as offering a perfect introduction to this very talented newcomer. The record takes its name from author Josef Skvorecky's book of the same name. Set in Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia, the story centres on one man's love of music and his pursuit of unattainable women as a country comes unglued. Like the book, the record deals with the pains and hopes of those struggling to make sense of their lives."

 

Blogspot - "The Swell Season"

"The Swell Season really would be up higher than even 5 on my list if it wasn’t for my sincere respect for the albums I placed above it. This album is so much; it’s emotional, thoughtful, and overall amazing. Created by The Frames front man Glen Hansard along with his female vocalist The Swell Season cannot be described in words. An amazingly polished work of musical art, though not designed with interconnecting tacks it truly seems to have been designed as a single larger though than mere tracks."

 

The Frames @ Vicar Street, Dublin, IE  December 31 2007

"So I guess I forgot to do a show report for The Frames' New Years Eve show in Dublin. Sorry about that. Completely skipped my mind. Probably has something to do with the number of pints I'd had to drink that night, and my own less-than-perfect memory of the show. What I do remember of the show was pretty great overall.

I find that, more than most bands, the quality of a Frames show is dependent on the surroundings. As I've said before, the magic of the Frames is how personal their music is -- even if you've never lived the experiences recounted in their songs, you instinctively understand the emotion behind them, and you rise and fall with the band as it plays on stage. Their shows can be absolutely revelatory in the right circumstances. Yet, when the venue isn't suited to the personal nature of their music, or when the crowd is filled people who aren't familiar with the band's music, it can be a very different experience.

The band's New Years show at Vicar Street regularly straddled this line between revelatory and routine (though, thankfully, revelatory won out overall). At times during the show, the band sounded as good as I've ever heard them, while at other times the band sounded like it was playing a song for the 1,000th time and couldn't wait to be done playing it. At times the crowd hung onto every note and often sang along to every word, while at other times people chattered among themselves too loudly as if they were simply in a bar rather than a concert.

I suppose that much of the incongruity was probably due to the fact that it was New Years Eve, and that this was a hometown show for the band -- while a large portion of the crowd was excited to see the band on a special night, just as many people treated it as a New Years celebration first and a concert second. And, honestly, I can't really complain too much. While I usually get upset when people talk through shows, it wasn't a consistent problem at this show, and you can't get too upset when people get drunk and talk-y on New Years Eve.

The best part of the night for me, as someone who'd travelled across an ocean to be there, were the few "rarities" that the band pulled out for the night, including "The Dancer "from the band's 1992 debut LP, Another Love Song. I may be wrong, but I'm fairly certain this was the first time I'd ever seen them play this in the close to 20 shows that I've seen.

At the end of the day, while the show definitely had its inconsistencies, I'm thrilled that I went. It was great to see the band surrounded by friends, family and long-time fans, and it was interesting to see the band play together at the end of what has been an incredible year for them (especially Glen). And, honestly, I'm always happy to be in Ireland, which may be my favourite place in the world."

YouTube: Where Is My Mind (Pixies) encore

 

Pitchfork Media - "The Cost"  March 8 2007

sample photoDespite the recent surge of indie-friendly bands aiming for grandiosity, upgrading to a Big Sound is no simple matter. Sure, many artists have lately begun to emulate the stadium-size approaches of luminaries like U2 and Bruce Springsteen, or even more recent large-venue successes like Coldplay or Pearl Jam, but few have successfully pulled off the transition. The fact that many of these bands have yet to achieve any sort of mainstream crossover makes the pursuit even more difficult; it's hard to make arena rock when you're still playing the clubs.

The Frames have a bit of an edge in this regard, being massively popular in their home Ireland, a big fish/small pond status best portrayed by the cultish crowd singalongs on their live album Set List. But since the group has emigrated to American label Anti-, the Frames have sought to translate their outsized stage presence into a larger album sound, first on 2004's Burn the Maps and now on The Cost. But while seeing a band cramming XXL songs into an intimate space can be a thrilling experience (it's was one of the Arcade Fire's secret weapons on the way up), in the sterile environment of a record, shooting for majestic can just as easily result in sounding middling and generic.

The Cost draws deep from The Book on Writing Epics, utilizing all the most popular strategies toward the goal of writing large-canvas anthems. There's the song with the slow build ("People Get Ready"), the song with the really simple metaphor ("Falling Slowly"), powerful one-word song titles ("Rise", "True"), and many, many songs with the triumphant violin solo. Pretty much the entire album sticks to the same contemplative tempo, and singer Glen Hansard unfurls his (considerably dampened) brogue-laced falsetto in all the right places, underscoring the real, real emotional parts.

If that whole process seems underwhelmingly by-the-numbers, you'd be right...there's very little to The Cost that attempts to surprise. And while there's nothing wrong with a predictable approach when deployed with expertise, it's disappointing from a band like the Frames, whose brash energy is best depicted by the raw, immediate Set List. Behaving themselves enough to conform to Big Sound ideals means sanding away their sense of humor and raucousness; only the meta-aware "Sad Songs" (with its tongue-in-cheek "Born to Run" reference) and the relatively boisterous intro to "Falling Slowly" let the band indulge its playful side.

All these compromises do yield a few strong moments of proper grandeur. "When Your Mind's Made Up" executes the quiet-to-loud ramp-up to perfection, starting with some nicely entwined guitar and piano and reaching a caterwauling, electric-fiddle peak. "The Side You Never Get To See" integrates orchestration without sounding forced, showing it doesn't hurt to have a full-time string-player in the band when you're going the symphonic route.

Yet too often, Colm Mac Con Iomaire's violin is the only element preventing the Frames from sinking to the status of just another post-Radiohead purveyor of mass-audience melancholic anthem ballads. That's an injustice to the Frames, but one of their own making, as The Cost reflects the all-too-common misstep of abandoning too much of a band's unique identity in the pursuit of the Big Sound. The enlargement process doesn't have to entail diluting a band's character in order to hit all the epic-song signifiers, as bands like the Twilight Sad and the Hold Steady have recently shown. Unfortunately, that's the path the Frames have chosen to take, and they've paid the cost without reaching the reward.

Rob Mitchum,  5.2

The Guardian - "The Cost"  January 5 2007

sample photoIrishness is usually a boon if you need a leg-up in the music business; be that the Eurovision stage, a Snow Patrol-shaped chart foothold or a U2-sized megastadium. Pity the Frames then, the Dublin band whose last album entered the Irish charts at No 1, but who remain also-rans over here. Fronted by former Commitments star Glen Hansard since 1991, the Frames' accomplished, accessible rock is full of bland, building crescendos and lovelorn trajectories. Fire flickers here, though. "Love has been the cause of all this suffering," gripes the title track like a twisted greetings card; while the conclusion of The Side You Never Get to See ("The side you never get to see/ Is alive") suggests a stream of real rage. Hints of Elton John, Coldplay and even Smog haunt this album, and although it often turns lacklustre, its aftertaste lingers. There's grit and gleam in Hansard's vocals, and enough muscle within the melancholy to turn the head and catch the ear.

Jude Rodgers, 3/5

 

STV.tv - "The Cost" - January 2007

With six studio albums to their name, the sounds of The Cost should come as no surprise to fans of The Frames. Gentle acoustics and uplifting melodies cast in a mould of violins and mandolins that, while carrying reverberations of folk, always feels like something so much more. Recorded “live” in a studio somewhere in France, the dynamic changes explored reflect a more expansive and palliative sound that, while maintaining The Frames’ archetypes, feels more intimate and personal. Somehow endearing and filled with its own warmth, The Cost is music for the cusp of the maelstrom - still and ruminative and always just waiting to bubble over an edge that it never quite makes it to.

Neil Ferguson

 

The Sunday Times - "The Cost" - January 2007

THE FRAMES
The Cost
Plateau/Anti 6841-2

Snow Patrol were the biggest album band in Britain last year: joy for their fans, depressing for detractors, who think they've dumbed down for success. Ireland’s the Frames have never come close to anything commercially comparable, and The Cost shows you why: bluntly, they make Snow Patrol sound like Throbbing Gristle. This is music so unadventurous, so lacking in originality, that even a three-albums-per-year forecourt buyer might blanch. If that seems harsh, check out whimsy-soaked exhibits such as Falling Slowly or Rise: wimpy warbling, soporific instrumentation, cliché-mired lyrics, music wholly without merit or balls. There can be no excuse. One star.

Dan Cairns

 

RTÉ - "The Cost" - September 21 2006

The Frames - The Cost
Record Label: Plateau
Year: 2006
Duration: 45 minutes

Before the release of every Frames album comes the hope/expectation/ assertion that this will be the one to give them the wider international audience they richly deserve. With such goodwill and so many wanting you to succeed comes the argument that The Frames, like many other Irish artists, have been somewhat insulated from the critical rigour that should accompany their work.

The answer many would give is that The Frames have never made a dud. And, once again, 'The Cost' is a strong record, but if it does prove to give the band their big breakthrough then the question as to whether its predecessor 'Burn the Maps' was the better album deserves to be asked all the louder.

As expected, there isn't any filler on 'The Cost'; it's anthemic, has two classics in 'Song for Someone' and 'Rise' and has that all too rare sound of musicians sparking off each other in a studio.

What it also does is rely too heavily on the same tempo. With the exceptions of 'When Your Mind's Made Up' and 'The Side You Never Get to See', the pace is consistently downbeat and, as a result, the album lacks the dynamics of 'Burn the Maps'. Spread these 10 songs out across different records and you've got some show-stoppers, put them all together on one and you'd hope that the setlist doesn't involve playing 'The Cost' in sequence from start to finish.

If every album should have one lesson that's the same for both the listener and the artist, the one here is that The Frames have, for the moment, taken the slow song as far as they should and that, in the interests of making sure no-one settles into a comfort zone, the follow-up should be faster, livelier and happier.

There's no doubt there are some breathtaking views here, it's just that sometimes the hike is too draining between them.

Harry Guerin, 3/5

 

sample photoHot Press - "The Cost"

The Frames
The Cost
(Plateau)
18 Sep 2006

I know it’s bad form these days to bring up partition in polite company, but when reviewing a new album by The Frames, there really is no alternative.

Ireland, after all, is divided between those who turn each of their gigs into quasi-religious happenings, and those who, should they find the band playing at the bottom of their garden, would gladly pull the curtains shut.

Believers view Hansard & Co’s brew of emotive folk-tinged rock as a shining example of durability and authenticity in image-obsessed days. Atheists see it as the grim apotheosis of the strain of phoney singer-songwriting that was especially virulent in Dublin at the latter part of the last decade. Agnostics remain largely unmoved.

The Cost, it has to be said, is not a record that will inspire many cross-camp defections.

Those who've followed the band along the route they’ve taken, from Dance The Devil, through For The Birds and up to Burn The Maps, will find much here to wave lighters and sing-along to at the gigs. The swoonsome opener ‘Song For Someone’ establishes a template of string-driven balladry that ‘People Get Ready’, ‘The Side You Never Get To See’ and ‘Sad Songs’ take up with gusto.

Carrying war-wounds from many different campaigns, you might expect that by now the band’s desire to keep on tilting at the great crossover windmill would have waned somewhat. But, judging by ‘Falling Slowly’, the last-minute skin-saving service that ‘Run’ provided for Snow Patrol may have encouraged them to go over the top once more. The logic is that it could be huge.

The unconvinced will no doubt be surprised to find hints (‘The Cost’ and ‘Bad Bone’) of a band attempting to marry harmony with dissonance in a way that could almost see them taking on the mantle of a Celtic Wilco (indeed a previous working relationship with Steve Albini would suggest a sturdier creative instinct than detractors credit The Frames with). Unfortunately, though, with a default setting of bombast, this intriguing prospect is only partially exploited.

It’s clear that The Frames inhabit a place in Irish affections similar to the one Paul Weller enjoys in England – review-proof, cocooned by a fanatically loyal fanbase from wider criticism, and locked into a familiar musical space that they seem content to maintain rather than renovate.

Fair enough: they have found their metier. But the suspicion lingers that were they to find a way of preaching to the unconverted, the rewards would be much greater.

Colin Carberry
Rating: 6 / 10

 

RTÉ - "The Swell Season" - May 22 2006

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová - The Swell Season
Record Label: Plateau Records
Year: 2006
Duration: 42 minutes

Through everything - endless years of being labelled the "next big thing", tours to all the remotest corners of this country and many others, the disintegration of record deals - frontman Glen Hansard has always kept faith with The Frames. As a result, 'The Swell Season' - a collaborative project with Czech singer/pianist Markéta Irglová - is his first album independent of the band. And it's far more than just a stopgap between 2004's 'Burn the Maps' and this year's promised follow-up.

There are few frills on 'The Swell Season'. Recorded in Prague over just four days with a simple, stripped down quartet - Irglová's piano and Hansard's guitar, bolstered by Marja Tuhkanen on violin and Bertrand Galen's cello - the album spans the downward trajectory of a doomed relationship. There's painful yearning in the heartbreaking 'Falling Slowly' ("Take this sinking boat and point it home/We've still got time, raise your hopeful voice"), self-loathing ('Leave') and despair ('Sleeping' - "And all that you've ever owned/Is packed in the hall to go/ And how am I supposed to live without you?").

The centrepiece of the album is Irglová's piano-driven title song, three minutes of perfect melancholy. She has an airy, pure voice which combines beautifully with Hansard's throughout the album, most memorably on 'Lies' and 'Drown Out'. But it's also strong enough to stand alone on (slightly) hopeful closing track 'Alone Apart'.

Perfect end-of-the-evening listening, 'The Swell Season' is a beautiful, soul-wrenching album. For the daylight hours we'll look forward to The Frames' new LP.

Caroline Hennessy

 

Anti - "Burn The Maps"

Just because The Frames are the BIGGEST band in Ireland (even rivaling U2), doesn't mean they rest on their laurels in the rest of the world. Over the last few years, they have built an impressive North American fan base from scratch. The Frames put on an incredible dynamic live show and their constant touring both on their own and with DAMIEN RICE, CALEXICO and THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS has paid off to the point where they sell out large clubs in all of the major cities.

Burn The Maps is their first studio album for Anti and it is also their most cohesive. Until now, The Frames' music favoured bi-polar swings, violently loud on one song, violently quiet the next. On Burn The Maps, their fifth studio album, the band have reconciled their various personalities into one volatile organism, synthesizing gorgeous melancholy with full-blown anger.

 

Modern Rock - "Burn The Maps"

The Frames
Burn The Maps
(ANTI)

“When you found something that good/it’s hard to focus on what’s right” blares lead singer Glen Hallard on The Frames’ latest, greatest record, Burn the Maps. It’s as if he’s cautioning folks who lose themselves in moments of blissful ignorance, which can be just as hazardous as being immersed inside a state of prolonged melancholy. Both can offer rewards with pleasurable or even painful results, so you have to be prepared to bleed. The Frames can abridge an entire lifespan of hurt and peaceful longing into a mere three minutes and they’ve done so for a number of years now. The second track, “Finally,” could be the best track they’ve ever laid down as it encapsulates the dichotomy of emotional complexity while heatedly radiating humanity in a way that is hair-raisingly beautiful.

The Frames are a band chock-full of nervous, overactive hesitation (“Sideways Down”) pooled with muted delivery and ear-piercing flare-ups while assertively confronting trials and tribulations. They’ve had a rough past, but still manage to imprint a sense of hope for the future as a song like “Dream Awake” demonstrates. They may have gotten lost inside themselves, but there’s clearly a way out and there’s “a point in all your dreaming.” They are searing ballads and rock epics that are bruising and transcendent, as if the string quartet for Radiohead joined forces with the distorted assault of The Afghan Whigs. Burn the Maps is the one to beat for 2005, for it impeccably captures the intensity and unflinching passion that comes with constructing a simple, yet vibrantly dynamic rock record that will reverberate inside anyone’s heart. Although their records in the past are strong efforts, it’s good to hear the band focusing on what’s right.

James Laczkowski

 

Esquire Magazine - "Burn The Maps"  May 26 2005

sample photoThe Frames, Ireland: The real reward in discovering a band - The Swell Season - Once Soundtrack - Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová that's already five albums into its career is running around town trying to find the first four. That's exactly where you'll be after listening to the Frames' latest effort, Burn the Maps. Regularly recognized as the most popular and vital band in Ireland since U2, the Frames may also be Ireland's best-kept secret. They're ghetto superstars—a band that plays stadiums at home and holes-in-the-wall here in the States. It takes only 40 seconds of Burn the Maps to recognize this is a truly special band that has mastered slow burn and raging cinematic melody. And despite the larger-than-life charisma and unique confidence of frontman Glen Hansard, implicit authenticity and believability sit behind his every syllable, lilt, and pause. His range is unparalleled, and the band shifts from quaint to bombastic in magnificent sonic sweeps, with gooey money-shot choruses itching to be screamed along to by a stadium full of soccer hooligans. "Fake" ("Come on, the guy's a fake/What do you love him for?") should be an enormous radio hit stateside, but once you immerse yourself in the first four records, you'll start feeling a little protective. You'll wonder, like a 15-year-old who's just discovered his new favourite band, if maybe you should try in vain to keep this one a secret.

 

Sydney Morning Herald - April 1 2005

"Fans primed for an ovation just for the band's arrival"
The Frames
Metro, March 30

Maybe it's true that every Irish man and woman within travelling distance of Sydney (including Luka Bloom) was in the room and responding with the kind of fervour which can come when home is an age away but alcohol is very near and not at all dear.

And, yes, maybe it's true that if you were pushed you might argue the Frames play a kind of rock, sometimes rooted in folk, sometimes rooted in post-punk freneticism, which is not offering anything flashy or new or likely to attract trendsetters desperate to peg the next medium thing.

But you could travel to Ireland and back and struggle to find an atmosphere so rich with excitement and passion and sheer pleasure. You could ask, but probably never get, an exchange between band and audience which is so tangible and so mutually rewarding. This wasn't mere energy but belief being sent back and forth. Belief in what? In the power of a song and a lyric to say something to and for you.

Explaining how this happens is harder to say. Break it down and you have a set built along the lines of many of the Frames' songs. That is, a slow and low key beginning gradually building tension and intensity until you find yourself wound up and pouring out emotion in a satisfying release. And in its aftermath feeling lighter and freer and ready to build again.

It's an interesting way to build a set, too, given this is an audience well primed and virtually offering an ovation merely for the band's arrival. They're ready, maybe too ready, to let loose at the first sign from the stage. Keep in mind, too, that Glen Hansard's songs aren't fun, frivolous things. They're often racked with guilt and uncertainty, resolution always seems tantalisingly close but never quite reached, and they're laced with Seamus Heaney and Leonard Cohen. Or at least their spirit.

You can look at a song such as Keepsake, for example, and say, yes, it's nervy internalising which then breaks out into a U2-like grandeur. You can hear What Happens when the Heart Just Stops and say beautifully sad intensity, or the Luka Bloom-assisted foray into Can't Help Falling in Love with You and say romantic crowd pleaser. And you can analyse Revelate and say it's brilliantly both religious and guttural.

They're all true, but there's something more at play here which isn't bottled - or induced by the bottle, though I've rarely seen so many empty beer cups on the floor of the Metro after a gig. Whatever it is, a Frames show has it in spades. Gloriously so.

Bernard Zuel

 

Sydney Morning Herald  "Up In Frames"  March 24 2005

The Irish folk-rockers are so hot right now their tour bus caught fire. Bernard Zuel reports.

Where: Metro Theatre, 624 George Street, city
When: Wednesday, 8pm
How much: Sold out
More information: The Frames' new album, Burn the Maps (Little Big Music/MRA), is out now

It's 1am in Copenhagen. The "snow is thick on the ground and it's quite cold", reports Glen Hansard.

The Frames singer-songwriter isn't unhappy about this. He has just finished a gig that went down a treat and he has his post-show cup of tea at hand. So all is right with the world.

Hansard is in such equilibrium with life that he's even able to recall, with surprising fondness, the events of a few nights earlier, when the band was in transit between Prague and Berlin.

It was about 1am then, too, when the band's driver noticed first smoke and then flames coming from the bus. You don't need to be Mark Webber to figure that's not a good sign and the bus emptied very quickly.

"It was a beautiful moment," Hansard says. "The snow was deep down, two foot of snow around the bus, and we're in the middle of a forest on a mountainside ... then we had to put chains on the wheels and try to get the bus going again, which was bloody hard."

Happiness isn't the first emotion one thinks of when discussing the Irish band. Intense and powerful, driven initially by rock dynamics inside a folk skin, they are defined by Hansard's quasi-poetic lyrics, where biblical imagery and much more modern dilemmas collide.

Their problem - if anyone other than bonehead radio stations even think it's a problem - is that you can't tell whether the Frames are rockers or folkies, a melancholy band or an uplifting one. Or maybe all four?

This has made it difficult for them to find a home at a record company, but has also made them one of those overwhelming live bands whose shows leave you wrung out and euphoric. Their previous Australian tours are proof of that. They didn't get named best live band and then best band in Ireland ahead of U2 for nothing.

Interestingly, their albums have been progressively quieter in recent years, yet even more intense for having restraint in the place of the erstwhile regular explosion.

"I think as you get older your emotions change," Hansard says. "You don't get turned on just because someone is blowing your beans. I don't get so excited if I get onstage and I'm lashing out fast."

He chuckles. "I'm an older man - the testosterone level has dropped. It's not about the quick fix any more."

That concentration of energy into intensity is something he shares with another couple of writers who have found the language of the Bible a source of inspiration: Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave.

"When I was five years old, what I wanted was my mother to teach me the lyrics of Bird on a Wire," Hansard says.

Cohen's song about the mendacity and promises of love includes potent lines such as "Like a baby, stillborn/Like a beast with his horn/ I have torn everyone who reached out for me".

"On my fifth birthday, I stood in the living room and sang Bird on a Wire for the whole family. I grew up listening to Leonard Cohen, so all the biblical imagery is definitely from him. Some of my early lyrics I'm quoting directly from him.

"The Bible is full of the most incredible poetry. When you read it, it talks about the world and simple things in beautiful ways."

For Hansard, faith is something still to be grappled with rather than embraced, it's not the religiousness of the text that matters but its poetry.

It's not by accident both George Bush and Osama bin Laden use religious imagery and poetic religious language in their speeches, he says.

"Poetry makes people start wars. The power of the word is something you should never ever underestimate.

"For me, growing up on a diet of Cohen had a greater influence on me than even Dylan. If I could sum up my heroes, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen: Dylan is the actor, Van Morrison is the emotion and Cohen is the poet.

"But Cohen has God on his side, I reckon. You can feel the hand of God in that guy's work.

"But ultimately we are driven by poetry. You can say what you like about the way the world works, but poetry makes men kill each other, not art."

 

New York Times - February 27 2005

"The Frames look inward"

Irish band bares soul in intensely personal CD full of regret, melancholy

sample photoBURN THE MAPS
The Frames
Anti

At home in Ireland the Frames headline arenas and festivals. Last year they released a live album, Set List, that showed just how loudly and happily their fans sang along on a decade's worth of songs. But their new album, Burn the Maps, doesn't crow in triumph or shout for the bleachers. Just the opposite. It's an intensely private album, full of desolation, leave-takings, recriminations and regrets.

The dynamics that bring audiences to their feet are turned inward, where they open emotional abysses.

Burn The Maps hints at a story, an arc that leads through bitter separation to a partial, uncertain reconciliation. Glen Hansard, the Frames' singer and main songwriter, uses bare-faced, vulnerable language. "You're telling me I should forget you, but why?'' he moans. There's the scratch of disillusionment in his voice, and then sometimes the nervy insistence of a desperate man. On this album Hansard is an anti-heroic singer, honouring his melodies without revelling in them, and he backs off from vocal climaxes, rarely allowing himself anything as simple as self-pity or rage.

At their foundation, the Frames are a folk-rock band; they even include a fiddler. But there's none of the coziness of folk-rock on Burn the Maps. With hints of Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead, electronics disrupt the tunes from one angle, stirrings and eruptions of punk from another. Even when the music is quiet and confiding, it's far more melancholy than soothing. And whenever the arrangements might swell into bombast, they hollow themselves out instead with the graininess of an untuned guitar or the sinewy tone of the fiddle.

The shadow of U2 hangs over most Irish rock bands, and the Frames don't have to avoid it. Like U2, the Frames can build towering crescendos from modest beginnings. Keepsake starts with subdued picked guitars and rises inexorably over seven minutes to an all-encompassing drone worthy of Mogwai or Godspeed You Black Emperor, then retreats to solitude again. But more important, the Frames have the Irish rock gift for creating drama without melodrama. Burn The Maps offers no happy ending, no tidy reassurances, not even the fleeting pleasures of self-righteousness. Its only consolations are in the sweep of the music itself. "Sound, there's order in the sound/The sound that you don't know,'' Hansard sings.

Jon Pareles

 

Billboard - SXSW, March 17 2005

Thinking this event over and my chance to see Ireland's the Frames gone, as they were due to play at 1 p.m. and it was now nearly 5 p.m., I headed for the door, only to be corralled back inside by Billboard's Ed Christman, who insisted he'd heard the band hadn't played yet. He was right, and their set was a highlight for a crowd that was certainly feeling Irish after a long day of revelry.

"We planned to play an electric set," frontman Glen Hansard said. "But we said, f*** it, it's St. Patty's Day' and decided to go acoustic." Along with a dedication to Brian Wilson, who shared the plane on which the Frames arrived in Austin, Hansard dropped a bit of the "Willy Wonka" theme "Pure Imagination" into a show-stopping performance of "Star Star."

Barry A. Jeckell

 

Billboard - SXSW, March 18 2005

The day starts with BMI's Acoustic Brunch, sponsored by Billboard. In addition to some kicking grub, the midday taste treat features an inviting selection of singer/songwriters. They all perform admirably before a packed lawn at the Four Seasons Hotel, but the standouts are brunch opener KT Tunstall, signed to EMI for the U.S.; Cary Brothers, who's coming off his success on the "Garden State" soundtrack, Aware Records artist Mat Kearney, who seems to have grown by leaps and bounds since I saw him a day earlier when he must have been having an off day, and Irishman Mark Geary, fresh off a tour with the Frames and headed for Australia on Saturday.

All in all, it's a great way to start the day with more than two hours of solid music from artists all of whom I'm excited to follow and watch develop.

Melinda Newman

 

The Daily Cardinal - Madison, Wisconsin

Despite burnt 'Maps,' Frames find their way on new album
Published: Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Frames have been around for over a decade, making albums that flourish at home in Ireland but fail to reach an audience in the U.S. After starting out on Island Records in 1992, and subsequently getting bounced around to various smaller labels,

The Frames finally ended up on ANTI- for their latest release, Burn The Maps. They're finally getting managed properly, too, as they've been gaining steady exposure in the states for what will surely end up as one of the great albums of 2005.

The ironically titled "Happy" opens the album on a sombre note, setting the gorgeously vulnerable tone that prevails on Burn The Maps with the line "Come help me out, I'm sick from the fight." It flows seamlessly into a lush, highly addictive chorus, which finds vocalist Glen Hansard crooning like Thom Yorke. The song's stellar element of intimacy manages to persist throughout the entire album, even though many songs do not share its subdued, hushed nature.

The Frames have a true affinity with layering their songs. They build and fade magnificently, sometimes weaving in and out gradually, other times roaring or halting instantly. In songs such as "Dream Awake," listeners find themselves engrossed in a soft lullaby, suddenly wrenched into a frenetic jumble of orchestration and percussion and just as quickly delivered back to quiet sanity with Hansard softly singing like nothing happened.

"Ship Caught In The Bay" is a uniquely dreamy song which is the biggest departure from the rest of Burn The Maps. It is fitting that this song, whose instrumentation lies in a distant undercurrent of guitar and bongo, would breathe life into the meaning of the album's title.

With the words "Leaving, but never far enough / Like a ship caught in the bay," it is understandable why Hansard might want to burn those maps that continually lead him back to trouble and heartbreak.

Burn The Maps is a fantastically captivating journey, and one that's bound to stick in your mind-not just through the hooks, but also through The Frames' unabashed desire to draw you into their impassioned world and not let you out. It helps that the music's just too damn good for you to resist.

Ben Peterson

 

The Boston Phoenix - Off The Record  "Burn The Maps"

sample photoThis Irish group have been plugging away for the past few years at a kind of measured folk rock that’s delicate enough to evoke comparisons with fellow acoustic-minded Dubliner Damien Rice but sturdy enough to support the occasional gusts of distorted guitar they use to spruce up sentiments like the one frontman Glen Hansard floats in "Finally." "And the lie that cut the worst," he sings over ragged power chords and a martial snare roll, "has been resolved and reversed." On Burn the Maps, the Frames’ fifth studio album (and the follow-up to last year’s live Set List), Hansard and his mates reconcile those folk and rock aspects of their sound as well as they ever have. The thrill of "Finally" and "Fake" isn’t necessarily in hearing them go from dashboard-confessional soft to shout-it-out loud (though Dave Odlum, who used to play guitar in the band, deserves notice for his crisp production) but in how naturally they make that transition. Unlike Nirvana and the Pixies, the inventors of modern alt-rock’s soft-loud dynamic, the Frames don’t turn it up to vent their outsized feelings; they do it because sometimes their feelings vent themselves.

(The Frames appear this Wednesday, March 2, at the Paradise Rock Club, 967 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston; call 617-562-8800.)

Mikael Wood, 3/5

 

Minneapolis Star Tribune - "Poised for a breakout"

After touring with Damien Rice last year and building a buzz for their new release, "Burn the Maps," Irish rock quartet the Frames are poised for a breakout. The album is full of dark, dramatic, post-breakup songs akin to Afghan Whigs and the Walkmen, but its piano and string arrangements provide more of a rootsy vibe. Irish singer-songwriter Mark Geary opens. (9 p.m. Mon., 400 Bar, 400 Cedar Av. S., Mpls. $10. 612-332-2903.)

(C.R.)

 

U2log.com - "Irish bands cover U2 for Tsunami Relief Fund"

Today FM in Ireland have released ‘Even better than the real thing, volume 3’, a double CD compilation of U2 songs covered by (mostly) Irish artists.

The massive tracklist includes Declan O’Rourke, The Divine Comedy, The Frames and Bell X1), while Jerry Fish (ex-An Emotional Fish) tries his hand at U2’s classic ‘One’. Some tracks were performed live on the Ray D’Arcy Show, others recorded in private studios. Proceeds go to the UNICEF Tsunami Relief Fund.

 
Patrick Lynch reviews ‘Even better than the real thing, volume 3’ for U2log.com:

U2 covered on Irish Fundraiser

Ever wished you could experience the songs of U2 again just like you were hearing them for the first time? That the assembled trademark package of history that has come to be unavoidably associated with the band was to fall away for an hour or so? Well here is such an opportunity.

Even Better Than The Real Thing is the title given to Ireland’s latest fund raising initiative. Compiled and recorded for Unicef in aid of the ongoing Tsunami Relief Fund this double CD features 25 current Irish acts performing 23 U2 songs. It’s a novel idea on many fronts. Obviously the fundraising potential in itself, followed by the chance to hear different takes on these familiar songs and perhaps most notable the fact that it comes from the current crop of Irish performers.

Many of those partaking couldn’t have been more than mere children or early teenagers when the majority of these songs first saw the light of day. Since U2’s meteoric rise in the mid eighties there is a street sense that the band have become more and more removed from the Irish music scene. With the demise of Mother records and excepting the occasional tour support slot U2 have for some years been perceived as somewhat aloof to the nurturing of their hometown scene to any great extent. Not that they are obliged to of course, their vision has always been more worldly than introspective. However it was a widening gap that has been noticed in Irish music circles for some time.

Of course nowadays much, if not all of the Irish music scene operate from different venues and recording studios to those that U2 circulated in and its probably all the better for it. Healthier perhaps that the Irish music scene has long since cast off its U2 shadow. And how the scene has changed for it.

Whereas once hailed as the city of a thousand bands it is fair to say that in today’s Dublin, bands are now outnumbered three to one by acoustic guitar wielding singer songwriter’s. And indeed the most successful of these are well represented on this CD, from the established and top selling Paddy Casey with a quiet rendition of Mothers Of The Disappeared to the gutsy delivery of When Loves Comes To Town by Dublin’s latest arrival in the multi talented Declan O'Rourke. Similarly Mark Geary and Mundy turn in top class renditions of All I Want Is You and Seconds.

Comfortably removed with hearing a CD of covers of this sort is the need to sit on the fence while the songs seep in, that fear that the tracks you dismiss today will become your favourites of tomorrow. What’s on trial here is not so much the songs that we know backwards and could sing in our sleep, but the translations of them on offer.

While some of the standard bearers are well represented (Sunday Bloody Sunday and Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses are included twice) there are enough less obvious choices to endear this. Personal favourites such as Love Is Blindness and So Cruel get their own unique and very different treatments from The Devlins (with Sharon Corr on violin) and Erin McKeown. Meanwhile Heartland and October get moody and evocative interpretations from Bell X1 and Divine Comedy.

The Frames’ 40 and both versions of Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses by Tom Baxter and Picturehouse disappoint somewhat while standout contributions come from the old reliables like Luka Bloom who is very good on Bad. Also recommended is Love Rescue Me on which Rosey goes for a straightforward country delivery.

An understated, less fussy that the original A Sort Of Homecoming by Hazel Kaneswaran and a more fleshed out version of Running to Stand Still by the hitherto less street cred Mickey Harte are also noteworthy. Elsewhere the Lisa Bresnan piano accompaniment of Sunday Bloody Sunday comes over all Joni Mitchell while Aslan sound unrecognizable on New Years Day. The band go on to explain in the sleeve notes that they chose this song for the cause for its message of hope.

Passable versions come from The Walls of With Or Without You and Irelands newest and youngest answer to Luke Kelly: George Murphy who jokes on the sleeve notes of his cover of Van Diemens Land that if the Edge stole this song from the folkies then he is stealing it back! Things are brought up to date with an inclusion of ‘Vertigo’. And instead of the standard punk treatment one would expect, here it gets the Elvis Viva Las Vegas treatment. ‘Elvis/Kevin Boyle’ as he likes to call himself, a popular tribute act to the King and apparently endorsed by Presley’s own musician’s, gives this a shuffle backing beat and curled lip delivery. Cutest inclusion on the CD comes from the closing St. Fiachra’s Junior School Choir with their rendition of Sweetest Thing.

Overall, as a benefit CD of U2 covers this has a feel of a generation removed, of the hometown youngsters interpreting their ancestor’s songs. And within that distance seemingly lies a great respect. A tipping of the hat from the new comers to the masters. And as with the buskers of Grafton Street before them, surely the greatest compliment these bands and performers can give U2 is to pay homage to their work. To sing these songs are to endorse them, to state loudly they are songs that deserve to be sung, breathed with new life and passed on to newer audiences.

With this tribute U2 have come home yet again and in doing so have really come of age. As witnessed here, from New Years Day to Vertigo, is that what sets them apart from other acts of such legendary status is that over twenty five years down the line they are still doing it. And how.

 

cluas.com - The Frames in Copenhagen

'Loppen', Copenhagen, Denmark, 17 February 2005

Review Snapshot:
A typical Frames crescendo of quality over the space of two hours, beginning quietly before melting into the familiarity of their more established tunes as well as some fiery renditions of their newer songs. The gig was coloured by the pelt and blizzard of snow which all fans endured travelling there, making the intimacy and warmth so characteristic of all Frames performances more highly accentuated and more deeply appreciated. After a slightly indifferent beginning, a mutual warming-to between band and audience puts this Frames gig right up there with the best of them.

The CLUAS Verdict?
8 out of 10

Full review:
For such a big band, the Frames still do all the little things so well. The storytelling, onstage musical playacting and Glen Hansard’s orchestral conducting of his audience as backing vocalists. By now these are all well-established trademarks of the Frames experience but which nonetheless, coupled with the small matter of their songs, never fail to generate the buzzing warmth and intimacy that makes their live performances so impressive. On a night with several inches of snow outside, the hushed warmth of Loppen was very much the harbour in the tempest. However, to use an expression both trite and true, the real storm was gathering onstage.

The start of the set, however, was all thunder and no lightning. Opening with ‘Keepsake’, ‘A Caution to the Birds’ and ‘Dream Awake’, the Frames struck a sombre, melodramatic and excessively earnest tone to begin with which, without any characteristic Hansard preamble to inject life and meaning into a clutch of largely still unfamiliar tunes from ‘Burn the Maps’, did little to break the ice. Indeed, even during the simmering adrenaline and purpose of the fantastic ‘Finally’, Glen Hansard – now replete with Van Gogh-like red beard – appeared more concerned with completing the ‘tormented genius’ image by glaring furiously at a spot on the back wall than directing his music at a bypassed audience who swayed uncertainly and appeared to consider retaking their seats until something more familiar and friendly surfaced.

Ultimately however, timing is one of the Frames’ strongest suits and Glen chose just the right moment, Hamlet-like, to cast his knighted colour off and let his eye look like a friend on Denmark. Discarding his beanie hat along with the dark pretensions, he launched into the lullaby anthem ‘Lay Me Down’ which had the assembled crowd of Danes and Irish sighing, smiling and singing along in recognition and relief. This was followed by the beautifully contemplative ‘What Happens When the Heart Just Stops’ ad-libbed into Van Morrison’s ‘Caravan’ – but not before the now characteristic prologue; a recollection of coming home hung-over after a night spent sleeping in a girlfriend’s front garden. The bittersweet bareness of ‘Happy’ and ‘Sideways Down’ followed (the latter prefaced by a hilarious Hansard appraisal of Sex and the City’s Carrie and her choice in men which, with its lead line ‘You’re standing alone‘, seemed to make all the sense in the world at the time).

At this point the Frames were positively incandescent, radiating energy through warm humour and the heated genius of their music. Scorching renditions of ‘Pavement Tune’ and ‘Fake’ nearly took the roof off, with Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’ rather aptly worked into the mix. The taper removed, Glen Hansard was now burning at his brightest. The performance was then given a preliminary warming down with ‘Your Face’ and ‘Star Star’ (once more combined to heartbreaking perfection with the tragic beauty of dEUS’s ‘Hotellounge’).

In what is now an established formality, The Frames then trooped offstage before returning minutes later to chants of ‘one more tune’, to which they over-obliged with customary generosity. In special tribute to all the Irish fans who had turned out, the incendiary ‘Revelate’ was first sent up, all guns blazing, the jagged opening chords erupting molten from Hansard’s Fender.

Coming down from this with slow burners ‘Friends and Foe’, the quirky, thumb-clicking ‘Devil Town’ and the peerless ‘Dance the Devil’, the Frames chose neither to burn out nor fade away. For the audience it was a case of going instead “out of the darkness and into the cold”, sustained by a warmth generated from a powerful and passionate performance by some of the best in the business.

Barry Lysaght

 

Orlando Sentinel - "Lucky Irish rockers find success on the ‘Maps'"

by Chuck Myers | Knight Ridder Tribune
Posted March 15, 2005

Irish audiences have been doing it for years. And now, American fans have caught on -- singing full throttle to songs by indefatigable Irish indie rockers, The Frames.

Orbiting on the fringes of mainstream music nearly 15 years, The Frames (singer/songwriter/guitarist Glen Hansard, violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire, bassist Joseph Doyle, guitarist Rob Bochnik and drummer Johnny Boyle) have developed a loyal following. A new album, Burn the Maps, and a fresh start on a new label, ANTI, could push the band into the limelight.

The Frames could have opted for a more pop-oriented sound that might have brought them greater commercial success long ago. But they didn't. Instead, the band chose to pursue a sound that suited its creative sensibilities.

Burn the Maps builds tension through searing riffs and dramatic peaks, particularly on the numbers "Sideways Down," "Underglass" and "Keep Sake." "Fake," the band's first hit single in Ireland, provides the most straight-ahead pop-rock moment on the album, while the final tracks, "Suffer in Silence" and "Locust," finally ease the foot off the pedal.

"I really wanted those songs at the end because I just felt the album needed to stop running at some point," Hansard says. "I needed to just sort of go 'Ahh, it's all right..... It's just a record. They're just songs.'"

The Frames have earned a reputation for their robust stage energy. Hansard revels in his role as frontman, often enjoying the crowd's response to the songs as much as he does playing them. After years of playing before partisans at intimate venues, The Frames stepped up their game by headlining a large outdoor concert in Dublin's Marlay Park last summer. The experience proved a special, if not seminal, moment.

"Last summer we played a gig in Ireland that I really could not have seen us ever do," Hansard says. "We played a gig in Ireland to 18,000.

"For any band other than U2, that's impossible.... When that happened, everything changed.... I was like, 'Right, things are different now -- a different chapter.'"

© 2005, Orlando Sentinel

 

The Prague Post - "In love with the lads"

"Dreaming with Prague's favourite Irish rockers"
For The Prague Post
Feb. 10, 2005

The Frames are making an eagerly anticipated return to Prague, this time at Archa Theater, where the Irish outfit will deliver their melodic brand of contemporary rock ornamented by lead singer/guitarist Glen Hansard's eloquent vocal trappings.

"I heard that Archa's a great room," says Hansard by phone from Ireland a few days before heading to Brussels for the first date of the tour. "Nick Cave played there and said it was really good, so we took the opportunity to go and have a look at it."

Although the increasingly busy Hansard can spend only three or four days out of every six weeks at home in Ireland, he seems to be taking it in stride. "It's almost as if I've become institutionalized by the likes of travel," he says. "I think that's probably a phase in one's life that passes, but right now I'm in the middle of it."

Be it a television appearance in America or a gig in Seattle with the Pixies, The Frames are finding themselves more "in the middle of it" than ever, especially in the wake of their new album, Burn the Maps, receiving worldwide release. "Suddenly it seems there's so much more going on," marvels Hansard.

A cut off the album is available on the band's Web site (www.theframes.ie), where you can listen to "Dream Awake." It's a fresh, lively offering that builds up to an almost cacophonic drum 'n' bass-style ending. "What you're hearing on 'Dream Awake' was actually a mistake," confides Hansard. "It was meant to be a slow song, but Graham [Hopkins, the drummer] made a mistake and went into a fast rhythm. At first we thought it was just a bit of fun, but we kept on listening back to it and thinking, that's great. So we decided to be brave and put it on the album. It was a fortunate accident."

Hansard went through a bit of an ordeal the last time he visited the Czech Republic. Invited to a post-gig party after playing the Pogo Club in Ceske Budejovice, he promptly forgot both his guitars on the street. When a club employee phoned Hansard the next morning, it was to ask if he had left "a guitar" behind. Hansard's acoustic guitar was still there, but his black Fender Telecaster was gone. When the guitar mysteriously reappeared two weeks later, there was only one noticeable difference: A protection spell in the form of a white cross put on it by Jason Molina of Songs Ohia was gone.

"I'd had the guitar since I was 15," says Hansard. "I was trying to get away from the idea of a material object meaning so much to me. Then, just when I'd accepted it, the guitar came back into my life. So now I appreciate it with a new meaning."

It seems that whenever the lads pass through, both Irish expats and Czechs get a serious case of intoxicating Framemania. When asked what she would ask Hansard, one fan (a Czech, incidentally) promptly replied, "Will he marry me?" Hansard's reply, which displays an admirable knowledge of the Czech language: "Tell her no, which in Czech means yes. So it's kind of a vague answer."

Be that as it may: Plain and simple, Prague loves The Frames.

On tour with a new album, Hansard and company like the looks of Archa.

The Frames
When: Saturday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m.
Where: Divadlo Archa
Tickets: 330 Kc through Ticketportal and at the venue

Jonny Tennant

 

eye.net - "The big picture"

If The Arcade Fire's recent success is any indication, audiences are once again willing to embrace drama in pop. The Frames must be praying this is true: 15 years, eight albums and countless personnel changes into their career, the Dublin quartet are still making a big noise only in their native Ireland -- and on their albums, of course. On 2001's For the Birds they delivered delicate, folky songs that exploded intermittently into cathartic cannonades of sound; Burn the Maps finds them surging back and forth more frequently, and even more effectively, in an emotional tug-of-war.

The Frames develop the Pixies' famed "quiet/loud thing" in a more expansive context: one moment, frontman Glen Hansard will be murmuring gently over wispy strings and hushed percussion; the next, he's letting loose in a ravaged wail over a punishing, insistent rhythm and a wall of guitars. Occasionally, this approach threatens to become formulaic and strained, but The Frames are such imaginative arrangers, they're usually able to find new directions in which to yank their audience's heartstrings. "Ship Caught in the Bay," for instance, begins as a near-comatose ballad but, out of nowhere, the ambient loop lilting along in the background morphs into blistering industrial beats set off by Colm Mac Con Iomaire's warped, processed violin.

Whether Hansard is being straightforward ("Come on the guy's a fake / What do you love him for?") or poetic ("The bells that rang in hope / Are still swinging from the ropes / We thought we'd one day perish on"), he invests his lyrics with a doomed longing and rancour -- a kind of grown-up angst. Apparently, he's a hilarious raconteur on stage, and indeed, the album could use a bit of comic relief in moments when the drama gets slightly overwrought. That said, Burn the Maps offers a compelling and finely crafted take on a ragged romanticism that's identifiably Irish but potentially universal.

Mike Doherty

The Frames play The Opera House (735 Queen E) Mar 4.

 

Boston Herald - "Frames let it all hang out"

Friday, March 4, 2005

Irish bands always seem to have a flair for the dramatic. Snide and ironic indie-rock posturing just doesn't fit into their equation. Following in the giant footsteps of fellow heart-on-sleeve rockers U2, the Frames brought their emotionally charged dynamics to a sold-out Paradise Wednesday night to the delight of a devotional crowd.

Despite coming from across the ocean, the Frames must have felt right at home, with Irish expats outnumbering the locals about 10 to 1 in the swamped audience. The Frames' new release, ``Burn the Maps,'' the band's first on a major U.S. label, attempts to level that ratio. Kings in their home country, the Frames have inexplicably struggled to gain a foothold here. Part of the problem is the band's inability to capture its captivating live performance on record. The Frames simply explode onstage, and Wednesday night was no exception.

The Dubliners began the night with an atypical set starter, the brooding and downcast ``Caution to the Birds,'' its soft/loud dynamics foreshadowing the rest of the night. ``Keepsake,'' a moody ballad from the new record, followed, the tune's whisper descending into screeching dissonance by song's end.
The dark mood was lightened a bit with the lovely pop song ``Lay Me Down,'' a tune singer Glen Hansard prefaced with a hilarious story about buying a cemetery plot for his girlfriend as a romantic gesture. Listening to Hansard's between-song anecdotes was a treat in itself, the naturally gifted storyteller spinning yarns with ferocious wit.

Just like their steadily building song dynamics, the Frames crafted a set that carried an almost frightening momentum, each song raising it to new, emotionally draining levels. The exposed nerve-endings of Hansard's unhinged vocal howl on ``Fake'' and the desperate crunch of ``Pavement Tune'' struck a powerful chord with the rapturous crowd. Their participation on the latter song became so extreme that Hansard left the microphone to conduct their vocals.

Coming out for its first encore, the band returned to its thunderous approach on the slashing guitar majesty of ``Revelate.' 'The finger-snapping a cappella harmonies of ``Devil Town'' quieted even the most obnoxious beer-swillers and gave closure to a triumphant night.

Engaging and spirited singer-songwriter Mark Geary opened the show, his similar brogue and passionate delivery aptly prefacing his countrymen's set.

Christopher Blagg

(The Frames, at the Paradise, Boston, Wednesday night.)

 

Duluth News Tribune - "Irish indie rockers The Frames poised for breakout"

by CHUCK MYERS
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

Irish audiences have been doing it for years. And now, American fans have caught on -- singing full throttle to songs by indefatigable Irish indie rockers, The Frames.

Orbiting on the fringes of mainstream music nearly 15 years, The Frames (singer/songwriter/guitarist Glen Hansard, violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire, bassist Joseph Doyle, guitarist Rob Bochnik and drummer Johnny Boyle) have developed a loyal following through their hauntingly distinctive and elegant music. This may soon change however, as a new album, "Burn the Maps," and a fresh start on a new label, Los Angeles-based ANTI, might finally push the band into an overdue and well-deserved limelight.

Hansard and Mac Con Iomaire are the group's remaining original members. (Guitarist Simon Good has joined the band for an early spring tour of the United States, sitting in for Mac Con Iomaire, who remained in Ireland for the birth of a child.)

The Frames could have opted for a more pop-oriented sound that probably would have brought them greater commercial success long ago. But they didn't. Instead, the band chose to pursue a sound that suited its creative sensibilities.

Initially signed by Island Records, the band has endured rocky experiences with record labels, often receiving less than expected support.

Frustrated, The Frames finally produced an album on their own, 2001's "For the Birds."

Texturally lush, "Birds" showed an adept integration of sonic elements and signalled a new aesthetic plateau for the group. Hansard admits that "Birds" was largely his baby, whereas "Burn The Maps" represents a more total band effort.

"It was a record that was kind of put together rather that a bunch of songs that were composed," said Hansard. "We wanted to make an album that sonically was a little bit more colorful than that 'For the Birds.' "

Complex, smooth and scorching, at times, "Burn the Maps" builds tension through searing riffs and dramatic peaks, particularly on the numbers "Sideways Down," "Underglass" and "Keep Sake." "Fake," the band's first hit single in Ireland, provides the most straight-ahead pop rock moment on the album.

Hansard will be the first to admit that his song lyrics are open to broad interpretation. They do decidedly express, however, a range of universal deep human emotions and states. It's tempting to read profound meaning into The Frames' numbers. Conjecture aside though, the songs actually pose more questions than answers.

"There's always been, in my songs, a kind of an element of 'what's it all about?' " explained the 34-year-old songwriter. "Our music, our songs, are questions. And if I'm asking the same question as you, then we relate to each other, and we have some connection. The idea of rock stars having answers, I find to be gross. ... People always say there a very close line between preaching and musicians. But I really don't think there is."

After years of playing before partisans at intimate venues, The Frames stepped up their game by headlining a large outdoor concert in Dublin's Marlay Park last summer. Certainly, The Frames were no strangers to performing outdoors. But the experience proved a special, if not seminal, moment.

Upcoming U.S. gigs include the South by Southwest music showcase in Austin, Texas and shows in Seattle and West Hollywood.

 

Straight.com - Georgia Straight, Canada  March 10 2005

"Frames Frontman Is Wary Of Mass Success"

Accessing Glen Hansard feels like some sort of covert operation. For starters, the Frames’ frontman is safely tucked away in the back of a long and dimly lit tour bus, which is parked in front of Montreal’s Cabaret La Tulipe. Adding to that, he and his four bandmates??—who play Richard’s on Richards on Thursday (March 10)—are militantly democratic about their interview rotation system. Today, the tour manager firmly points out, is bassist Joseph Doyle’s turn. But since the scheduled interviewee is stuck in sound check, Hansard peels himself away from his laptop and explains his reluctance to chat up every music writer who wants 10 minutes with him.

“I just don’t want to turn into a whore that knows how to turn you on by what I say, someone that knows how to be quotable,” he says, not realizing that as soon as he said “whore”, my sound-bite radar started pinging uncontrollably. “Plus, it’s nice to give the boys a bit of the action. Some of the lads have some great positivity to share, whereas I can be a real morose bastard sometimes.”

Not today. Even after Doyle comes bounding in for his turn with the media, Hansard happily continues to dominate our Q&A period.

We begin by discussing the success of “Fake”, a single that was released in Ireland in 2003 and instantly catapulted the Dublin veterans from a local cult act to Irish rock royalty.

“It’s not a fancy song; there’s nothing super-intelligent about it,” says Hansard, whom many may recognize as the guitarist in The Commitments. “It’s just a straight-ahead rock song with a bit of a hook.”

That’s an understatement. Upon first listen to the inescapably catchy number, featured on the Frames’ latest album, Burn the Maps, you can pinpoint the exact note (approximately 9.8 nanoseconds in), where fans are likely to raise their hands and sing along. The guitar-driven “Fake” is noticeably different from Radiohead-esque rockers like “Happy” and avant-folk drifters like “Keepsake”. Throughout most of the record, violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire remains a unifying force. He deftly builds pastel swirls of Celtic noise, subtly underscoring both the experimental ballads and the OK Computer-indebted chart toppers.

Along with ample radio play in their native land, these working-class blokes’ fifth studio LP scored them the headlining slot at Dublin’s Marley Park music festival last summer. Frame-mania has yet to conquer U.S. airwaves. But according to Hansard, that’s probably for the best. “I think we’d implode overnight,” he says, snapping his fingers with conviction. “The band would just freak out because we’re a small simple business that knows how it works and likes how it works. So if, for example, “Fake” suddenly shot straight to number five in America, we’d have a pretty rough ride of it.”

Breaking his silence, the quiet Doyle dreamily interjects: “Actually, I think we’d have a pretty good time.”

Sarah Rowland

 

The Seattle Times - "Irish band sets out to conquer America"

Back home in Ireland, the Frames are superstars. Their albums top the charts and they can fill stadiums with rabid fans who sing along to every song.

But in America the band is still struggling to establish itself. It has its best shot yet with its latest album, "Burn the Maps," an impressive, eclectic collection that shows that the group excels in the kind of passion and drama exemplified by U2, a band the Frames are often compared to. Romantic tension is an overriding theme on the disc, with songs of regret, acceptance and anger.

A better example of what to expect when the Frames headline tonight at the Croc, however, is its previous disc, "Set List," recorded live at one of those stadium shows. The CD captures the compelling showmanship of Glen Hansard, the founder, lead singer and linchpin of the band, which he started in 1990. He's an engaging frontman who tells funny stories, randomly throws in cover tunes in the middle of one of his own, encourages the audience to participate, and shows both tender and hard-rocking sides of himself. He can sing a sweet pop song, à la Coldplay, or a twisted revenge song, like something from Nine Inch Nails. His songs often start slowly and build to dramatic climaxes.

There's a touch of R&B in some of the songs, an influence that goes back to the days of the Commitments, the band and the film of the same name. Hansard put his band aside for about a year as he completed his role as one of the band members, including playing some live gigs. The hit film gave his band a big boost in Ireland.

Also on tonight's bill is fellow countryman Mark Geary, a passionate singer-songwriter, and Tim Seely, a local singer-songwriter, formerly of the band Actual Tigers.

Concert Preview
The Frames, Mark Geary and Tim Seely, 9 tonight, The Crocodile Cafe, 2200 Second Ave., Seattle; $12 (866-468-7623 or www.ticketweb.com; information: 206-441-5611 or www.thecrocodile.com, www.theframes.ie).

Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312
© 2005 The Seattle Times Company

 

Splendid Magazine - "Burn The Maps"  February 8 2005

sample photoOf all the bands who stand a chance of gaining greater notoriety in 2005, The Frames are perhaps the most deserving. In fact, let's take that a step further: if you pay attention to only one band this year, and you want to feel good about your decision five or even ten years from now, make sure it's The Frames.

Yes, The Frames have long been chart-toppers back home in Ireland, but if there's any justice in the world, Burn the Maps will make US audiences sit up and take notice as they never have before. Blending the intimate emotional impact of 2000's For the Birds (the group's last studio album) with the noisy, passionate tunefulness of 1999's Dance the Devil, Burn the Maps is a fifty-seven minute jump-start for the spirit. It's perfect for rainy afternoons, quiet evenings, or those gorgeous, shiny mornings when the world seems new and perfect again.

There's something about Glen Hansard's vocals... he's not a particularly polished singer, but you get a sense that he's never told a boring story in his life, and that he could reveal some fundamental human truth simply by reading a shopping list aloud with the right inflection. If you sat down for coffee with this man, you could talk for hours, about everything and nothing, because he seems to get it. He gets you. There's some intangible power in his casually oblique lyrics that taps directly into the universality of experience; the Frames' songs are seldom directly anchored to a specific time, place or event, so when a lyric gets its claws in your head, you can't dislodge it with context. Instead, you get one of those white-hot flashes of non-specific personal insight -- the sort of experience that makes you buy one of everything on a band's merch table in the desperate hope of recreating it at home, or in the car, or anywhere you're able to properly process it. But with The Frames, it isn't a one-off, in-the-moment experience; it can happen again and again.

Let's sample a few of Burn the Maps' highlights. Opener "Happy", despite its warm acoustic guitar melody and sedate rhythm, is anything but: there's quiet desperation behind Hansard's falsetto as he sings, "And you're putting a line / where there should be not a line / and you're building divides..." The gentle piano accents grow stronger as Hansard gets steelier, and there's an electric guitar ready and waiting to twitter like a mad bird during the bridge. Lyrically, Hansard sets a scene but doesn't play it out: we have no idea if he's talking to a withdrawn lover, a recalcitrant friend or a world leader, and we're left to wonder about the resolution. "Finally" is faster, choppier, more urgent; Hansard hacks through the lyrics, biting off three- and four-syllable chunks in a David Gedge-like rasp. He swoons through the gentle chorus, repeating "Finally" in a near-whisper that builds to a throaty half-scream, softened by Colm Mac Con Iomaire's evocative fiddle-work.

"Dream Awake" does the quiet/loud thing, spurring its simple, almost subliminal melody into a whirling, cathartic frenzy, then kicking up a maelstrom for its final minute. Gentle, unobtrusive "Trying" abruptly jolts its backing into a shoegaze-styled feedback blur -- gorgeous stuff. Dance the Devil fans will want to skip ahead to "Fake": the restrained verse and gloriously noisy, intermittently discordant chorus flare-ups use fiddle, electric guitar and plenty of crash cymbal to remind us of The Frames' admiration for the Pixies. Love, however confused, always gets the blood flowing; when Hansard sings, "Come on, the guy's a fake / what do you love him for / and it was my mistake / just kicking in his door / and if it's just a game / what are we crying for," most of us can empathize. Those of us who need more noise and more catharsis can look forward to the resolutely loud "Underglass", in which we're reminded that it's possible to shout a chorus without totally undermining the song's melody.

Unabashedly mellow and reflective, Burn The Maps may not hook mainstream music fans who've been conditioned to expect a tidily rhyming chorus ever thirty seconds -- but U2, in their day, were no more accessible. Comparing the two Irish acts seems lazy and amateurish, but there's a definite similarity; both bands created an emotional and intellectual connection with their listeners, and both cater to the "smarter" end of the mainstream audience without specifically excluding their less erudite fans. While U2 eventually became part of the corporate bombast they once ignored, then sought to parody and puncture, The Frames tired of major-label interference early in their careers. They've spent their last few albums stripping away the layers of production and gratuitous artsiness between them and their audience, and now they connect with their listeners in a direct and unaffected manner. Their timing is right, too -- their new label home, Anti, loves them as much as Overcoat Records did, but has the promotional resources required to increase their visibility, not to mention the common sense not to "fix" a band that so clearly isn't broken.

Yes, 2005 could be the year The Frames finally break. And it couldn't happen to a more deserving band.

George Zahora

 

Stylus Magazine - "Burn The Maps"

sample photoAnti
2005
B+

The fragile gleam of a desert campfire cramped against the sky. Glen Hansard’s parched voice has a way of speaking to it. He summons the light out of distance, leagues of sand and the grotesque mockery of the miles. And, that oasis, that crackled spark that swallows the horizon and quickens his pace, that pumping flame in the distance, well, Hansard has approached it for you with The Frames’ latest record, Burn The Maps.

Their first studio effort in over three years, Burn the Maps finds the Frames replacing lead guitarist Dave Odlum with Rob Bochnik, a former recording engineer, and sans Dave Hingerty on drums. Of course, for the Frames, all these myriad changes are their normalcy; the band has garnered as much critical notoriety over the years for changing line-ups and record labels as it has for its suffocating sound. For all of that, as long as they lead with Hansard as songwriter/vocalist and Colm Mac Con Iomaire as violinist, their continuity remains intact. Hansard sometimes sounds like the frontman for a metal band, drugged and sedated with the weight of his broken spirit and forced to adjust to the circumstance. His voice drags his songs as by a leash, tugging and releasing at each corner and half-stop. On Burn the Maps, an album for album lovers if there ever was one, the sort of record which lacking a single inclusion or pumped past the breaking point with one more aching moment, would never hold under the strain, he’s concentrated his angst and jagged pain into a statement that refuses solace.

The album moves in gasps and groans, with a steady flow to its twelve songs that weaves together like a symphony. Not so much bend-and-don’t-break as fracture-and-heal-yourself-anew, their songs press the pressure points behind their transitions. Rarely content to slip under the pull of fast/slow dynamics, as a simple dichotomy at least, the Frames seem to know just when to let you in on the secret. Check the way opener “Trying” quickens its pace just slightly with the addition of stately piano, and then retreats under the parsed glow of its background vocals. The change in pace is subtle and almost negligible, and yet its mellow lure propels the song beyond the gloom.

Beginning with the buried romance of “Trying,” Burn the Maps begins a four-song sequence that perfects these tenuous dynamics. The track’s feathered beat and distant cacophony mounts towards it close, but it’s balanced on a hazy, almost inert acoustic guitar. From there, the EMO-tinged “Fake” staggers through the door on drunken gangly guitar and rebuke, pausing to question faithlessness in the face of a new love’s falsity. There’s anger and there’s accusation, but mostly there’s just the acknowledgement of what can never be again. The music’s challenge is voiced through Hasnard’s most haggard delivery, and the pairing works wonders.

From there, “Sideways Down” is one of the album’s more electronically-tampered tracks, beginning with a stuttered machine-beat and insistent guitar. As a limber bass line gives out to Mac Con Iomaire’s strings and a stirring requiem chorus, the band charges into the distorted froth of “Underglass,” spit-fired with fury and guilt. Perhaps the equivalent of an EMO-Sigur Ros, whatever that might conjure for you, these songs find the band at their earthiest and most aggressive.

Many of you will find Hasnard’s lyrics a bit maudlin. Part of me can’t blame you; the man lives by the dying light, he does. Of course, when paired with music of the sophistication and heady weight of Burn the Maps, you could almost read Where the Wild Things Are against their deep scar and create a new kaddish. Hear all of this in the myriad veins it traces, against those unknowable blanks in its expression, and remember that welcome-home image: the pursuit of something bent past the horizon.

Reviewed by: Derek Miller
Reviewed on: 2005-02-08

 

The Irish Echo Online - "Burn The Maps"

sample photo"Complexity without compromise"

The Frames had a choice when they hunkered down to record their fifth studio album. They were on the heels of a successful live album, recently signed to a new record label with the promise of creative control, and had been crowned Ireland's new rock kings by Hot Press magazine. Needless to say, the Frames could have taken it easy this time around.

The Dublin-based band took the high road, and did it without compromising a thing. Still layered and intense as ever, the Frames can consider the music that makes up "Burn the Maps" a testament to their talent and efforts.

The new album does such an honest job of conveying the Frames at their best that it ensures that if the U.S. is going to love the Frames, they will love everything -- the peaks, the valleys and the in-betweens.

The album comes perilously close to being almost too mellow at times, but it only takes a thorough listen to hear the complexity beneath the lulled vocals of Glen Hansard and careful string work of Colm Mac Con Iomaire.

Having recorded and mastered in three different locations could typically be a recipe for disaster, with the pitfalls of overproduction and the old adage of "too many cooks." Instead, the Frames are wholly involved with the process and keep their finished product sounding top-notch. Their signature dots each track, and ensures that the sound is impeccable.

"Dream Awake," the first single, is a slowly building masterpiece, closing with crashing drums and a sweeping violin to climax, only to be stopped by the realism of Hansard's vocals.

"Happy," the leadoff track, plays out as a stark contrast against itself but without alienating the listener. Careful timing and Mac Con Iomaire's dramatics with the violin help make it one of the most solid Frame's songs ever.

"Fake" could be the one misstep, not because it is a bad song but rather it fails to fit in with the mood of the entire album. It is understandable why it was included, however, being both a huge hit in Ireland and seemingly commercially viable in the U.S. It is a sad love song, but you can almost imagine Hansard grinning as he sings the chorus.

The album begins its sloping finish with the tremendous "Suffer in Silence," the ending of which only teases the listener for more. Sure, it has all the grand swooshes and dreamy guitars of any decent concluding track. But it never raises its own voice, instead allowing the music to drift off, seemingly full of hope. Listeners will leave the same as they came, looking for more of the Frames to devour.

There is a lot riding on "Burn the Maps," but the best ending is what it is -- a CD made for the band by their own tough standards, which ends up being a treat for the listener: fans and first timers alike

Jill Sheehy

 

The Onion AV Club - "Burn The Maps"

sample photoThe best rock 'n' roll relies on anticipation as much as arrival—a lesson The Frames' singer-songwriter Glen Hansard seems determined to test. The 12 songs on The Frames' latest, Burn The Maps, simmer for a long time before they boil, but they do heat up eventually, and that potential energy makes the Dublin band more than just another group of Coldplay-era atmospheric balladeers. (That and the fact that The Frames predates Coldplay by roughly a decade.) Hansard's first incarnation of the band had more in common with the Pixies and U2, but over the years, he's decided he'd rather light a slow-burning fuse than stick around for the explosion.

Burn The Maps begins with the hushed hum of "Happy," as Hansard half-whispers a statement of modern alienation, culminating in the line "Why are you building divides?", which could be directed at God, a lover, or a political party. The song gets louder, but rather than cutting loose, it just keeps building, adding more guitar, more piano, and finally a wash of strings. The escalating drumbeat and harder-edged guitar of the next song, "Finally," promises some release, but its chorus gets softer instead of louder. The Frames' tense vamping doesn't begin to crest until the bridge, though again, it never really breaks. Throughout the record—on the dynamic "Dream Awake," the low, snaky "Sideways Down," and the quietly panicky epic "Keepsake," among others—The Frames changes tempo, volume, and tone, but at the point where most bands chase patterns to their conclusion, or let out a triumphant power-riff, Hansard and company just downshift and start over.

Some of these exercises in frustration are simply frustrating, but for the most part, The Frames' perverse restraint matches Hansard's lyrics, which are all about lowered expectations. Even when the song "Fake" follows a conventional rock structure, its big, pounding chorus proves to be a letdown after the amiably poky singsong that precedes it. As an experiment in defying formal expectations, Burn The Maps demonstrates how a climax delayed can be a climax extended.

Noel Murray

 

Gazette - Atlanta, Georgia - "Burn The Maps"

sample photo"Burn The Maps." Anti-. 12 tracks. Grade: A-
Published on: 02/08/2005

If it weren't for the staying power of U2, the Frames might be Ireland's greatest living rock band.

But, since Bono and the boys continue to make fine records after a quarter-century, thus refusing to abdicate, the Frames have to settle for being the heir apparent.

That doesn't mean U2 and the Frames have a whole lot in common musically. The Frames can get as self-consciously anthemic as their older countrymen (and blustery American bands like the Smashing Pumpkins or the Pixies), something that's even more in evidence here than on their earlier albums. But it's still the little things that make the Frames special.

Little of "Burn the Maps," the quartet's fifth and finest studio album, reaches out and grabs the ear immediately. There are fewer massive hooks, and many delicate barbs of gold that work their magic slowly and with more lasting appeal. "Burn the Maps" is loaded with time-released touches of goosebump-inducing beauty: the ghostly wordless mass of backing vocals on "Happy," the crush of barbed-wire guitars that makes the chorus of "A Caution to the Birds" sound like Neil Young jamming with "The Bends"-era Radiohead.

The band has mastered the soft verse/big chorus dynamic and the slow build. A quiet intensity escalates throughout "Sideways Down" until it's draped with perfectly placed strings before fading back to the doubled-up vocal and insistent bass buzz that began the track.

"Burn the Maps" is a moody and melancholy companion, and one that doesn't give up all it's secrets on the first date. Give it a few spins and it soon becomes an endlessly fascinating piece of work that just might earn your eternal devotion.

Shane Harrison

 

BBC Ceefax - "Burn The Maps"

If Hanson proves a little too bright and breezy for you, then enter the darker, more intense world of this long-running Irish band.

There is not much uplifting material on this new opus, with eeriness, misery and introspection proving paramount.

Guitars go from gentle to grinding, vocals are pained, with a sprinkling of strings lending occasional drama.

Pacier songs like Fake and Underglass bring a touch of life to an album to an album which lacks the quality which makes you want to play it on an endless loop.

Michael Osborn

 

Zero Magazine - "Burn The Maps"

sample photoDespite the fact that they’ve been writing great pop/rock songs for 15 years, the Frames have yet to establish much of a presence in the U.S. music scene. The Dublin, Ireland band has enjoyed modest success in their homeland, but their passionate, dark alternative pop has never found a home across the Atlantic.

As they’ve refined and focused their sound to an almost orchestral intensity, the Frames aren’t likely to make many new fans in the U.S. with Burn the Maps. Alternatingly invigorating and depressing, at once aimless and beautiful, the songs here are more innovative than past Frames offerings, and likewise somewhat less accessible. Patient, gentle ballads like “Happy,” “Dream Awake,” and “Trying” prevail, while “Fake” and “Underglass,” more akin to the eager rock found on earlier Frames records, are in the minority. This overall range will contribute to the record’s appeal in the hands of more traditional pop/rock fans, while the varied song structures and wide range of sounds make the album right at home at the forthrightly indie label Anti-.

A complex album with an elusive identity, Burn the Maps should make folks back home in Ireland prouder than ever of the talent of their boys the Frames, but will be a difficult listen for the uninitiated to catch on to.

Nate Seltenrich

 

Hot Press - "Sideways Down"  January 24 2005

The Frames
Sideways Down
(Plateau)

Cheerio to the Frames then, at least for a while, as they start the battle to convince the rest of the world to love them like their countrymen. Burn The Maps isn’t a bad way to try and do it and ‘Sideways Down’ is a nice little goodbye gift. You suspect the next time we’ll see them will be in a field somewhere this summer.

Phil Udell

 

City Tribune - "Burn The Maps"  January 26, 2005

sample photoGlen Hansard, lead vocalist with the Frames, started busking on the streets of Dublin at fourteen. Encouraged by his mother—who went and bought him a guitar—Hansard’s and his mother’s primal instincts proved accurate. His success has taken many avenues, from record deals to their failures, from the coming and going of band members to long-awaited success. “Revelate” and “Star, star’ awakened the world to the Frames and not before time either.

Burn The Maps comes in the wake of their live album, Set List, which captures The Frames’ real talent—live performance. This album blends the quiet, subdued songs, which The Frames are renowned for, with the rock element they’ve been aspiring to find a place for in their records. Does it work? Yes, resoundingly yes. This is an accomplished album filled with hushed melodies that rise into manic vocals.

Burn The Maps starts with the unhappy “Happy”. It’s about divides, misunderstanding, or simply not understanding, the gaps and lines between words and actions and what they mean. Slowly riling, its stupendously uplifting symphony only kicks in towards the end. As always Colm Mac Con Iomaire is to thank; his violin inserts are sharply timed. “Finally”, the album’s second track in angrier. Its one word chorus “finally’ goes from acceptance to exasperation and back again. “Dream Awake” starts slowly, bt rallies into a frenzy of drums. A beautiful song, all the more pertinent in the wake of recent disasters (there’s a calling, a calling, a calling to everyone who lost something).

“A Caution to the Birds” follows the suit of earlier songs. Its painfully slow beginning charges into a loud chorus, which aptly begins with the word sound and that’s precisely what Hansard gives it. The guitar riffs at the end and Mac Iomaire’s violin give the song gravity. “Trying”, harks back to their album “for the Birds”. It is the lullaby highs of Hansard’s voice and the finger-picked guitar strings that make it resonate.

Then comes, what for most will be sufficient reason to buy this album, “Fake”, which was released as a single during the year. It’s an anthem for lost love and has the raw-rock verses interspersed with its sweet melodious chorus. “Sideways Down” introduces Lisa Hannigan on backing vocals; its rhythmic guitar jams threaten to take off into oblivion with the chorus ‘now you’re standing alone’, but the song manages to stay put; the violin strings catapult and ease it back again into its steady tempo. “Underglass” marks a transition. Here Hansard’s vocals rip into shrieks for this simple rock tune.

The last set of four “Ship Caught in the Bay”, “Keepsake”, “Suffer in Silence” and “Locusts” are lovesong, beautifully articulated. Warped vocals serenade the bands’ instruments that complement rather than envelop Hansard’s voice in the first of these songs. It ends with drumbeats and violins caught in static, fading in and out and then simply stopping. “Keepsake” is heartbreakingly beautiful. The Chorus is introduced b the violin and its ricochet, followed by the simple words: ‘down, down, down.” The final refrain “I can’t sleep” is broken by an assembly of guitars and the violin’s struggle, all of which rushes into a crescendo that leaves the lyrics inaudible.

“Suffer in Silence” is a downbeat song, sparse on instruments, but strong vocally. The vocals are reinforced by the lyrics, simple but effective: “I believe”. Joe Doyle shares the vocals in “Locusts”. Again, it’s the by now, predictable slow start, but this time there is no frenzy, just a piano sounding like plops of rain falling into a puddle. It’s a remarkable album.

 

cluas.com - "The Clearys" January 16 2005

The Village, Dublin

Review Snapshot:
A benefit gig in aid of the Tsunami Appeal with The Frames disguising themselves as The Cleary’s so their loyal fan base actually have a chance of getting tickets to see them.

The CLUAS Verdict?
7.5 out of 10

Full review:
The Village opened their doors at six o’clock for this event, in turn making it an all ages gig. By twenty past six, the venue was packed. All of the charitable folk that gathered on this brisk Sunday afternoon gazed toward the lone troubadour on stage. Mark Geary was armed with a yellow necktie; a tanned acoustic guitar and an array of his auspicious tunes that brought always bring a delectable tint to his set. ‘Suzanne’ and ‘Morphine’ were gobbled up as the songwriter unleashed a hybrid of old & new songs. Matthew Devereux joined him onstage and before long the crowd were rejoicing to the ever-popular Mic Christopher song ‘Heyday’. It was another solid performance from one of the best Irish singer/songwriters around at the moment.

The smoke machines were turned on and the lights came down. Excitement echoed through the Dublin venue, which quickly morphed into full-fledged fan fever when The Cleary’s arrived. The opener ‘Keepsake’ floated by like a mournful dirge while ‘A Caution To The Birds’ added some much needed energy to the beginning of the set. When the early timid sounds of ‘Dream Awake’ crept from the large speakers, it was unusual to notice that the crowd reacted in almost quarrelsome manner. In contrast to this surprised response, it is typical behaviour of Frames fans to transform a small venue into a haven of stadium-sized proportions with the atmosphere they create. The enthusiasm and passion that Frames devotees have brought with them over the years has not only been impressive but a powerful statement that their loyalty is as strong as ever on the eve of The Frames’ worldwide release of ‘Burn The Maps’. They deserved this gig and deserved the excellent version of ‘Finally’ that followed.

A labyrinthine take of ‘Lay Me Down’ with Joe’s bass churning out some clouting rhythms came before a confessional slipstream of midway rock in the shape of ‘Plateau’.

Next up came an aching version of ‘Happy’, followed by the unbalanced structure of ‘People Get Ready’ with each instrument straying off on meandering avenues, an unneeded insert of ‘Trying’, a compelling take of ‘Fake’ and a superb ‘Pavement Tune’ quickly came after. Deep breaths were then inhaled, drinks were sipped and a thirst for more of the same quenched throughout the crowd. The integral part that Colm plays in this band was given its spotlight on ‘Bad Bone’, a compelling number and few seemed to know. A rollicking ‘Underglass’ then came before a calming ‘Star Star’ with ‘Hotel Lounge’ mixed in at the end for good measure. The band then bowed and left the stage.

It was under two minutes before the band reappeared and started into an instrumental before a sauntering account of ‘Early Bird’. A real seriousness was attached to ‘Friend And Foe’ while ‘Revelate’ and a cover of the Pixies classic ‘Where Is My Mind?’ had the crowd bouncing around. The tempo was again brought down with the stirring ‘The Blood’, the wonderful ‘Devil Town’, the well-executed ‘Dance The Devil’ and the effective ‘Suffer In Silence’, which was a fitting song to end on and for what this gig was raising money for.

Overall the gig was another really good performance from The Frames and supported by the ever-charming Mark Geary.

Gareth Maher

 

German website - "Burn The Maps"

sample photoGo to enough extremes and you’ll find a kind of balance. Until now, The Frames’ music favoured bi-polar swings, violently loud on one song, violently quiet the next. On Burn The Maps, their fifth studio album, the band have reconciled their various personalities into one volatile organism, synthesizing gorgeous melancholy with full-blown anger.

If 2000’s For the Birds seemed to capture the Dublin/Chicago quintet playing in a small room with nobody watching, Burn The Maps turns on the arc lamps. Served by their most faithful production job yet (courtesy of ex-guitarist Dave Odlum and new guitarist Rob Bochnik, who formerly spent eight years working at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studio) and recorded in Black Box studios in France, the new record is a skilful mix of widescreen scale and magnifying-glass detail, sort of like putting a Herzog still under a microscope.

So, you get the self-questioning psychodrama and martial rhythms of the single ‘Finally’, featuring a hackle-raising vocal from Glen Hansard and typically panoramic string arrangement from Colm Mac An Iomaire. You get spiky, nasty pop songs like ‘Fake’ and ‘Underglass’, with its dum-dum bassline worthy of Kim Deal. You get the seraphic boy soprano melodies of ‘Happy’ and ‘Sideways Down’ and the graphic 4am truth-or-dare drinking games of ‘Caution’. And you get epics like ‘Keepsake’, distinguished by the sort of sea change dynamics associated with Mogwai or the Dirty Three. In short, here’s a world where Spector collides with Steve Albini, Arvo Part with Sparklehorse, open-heart surgery songs that deal in love and hate, mourning and ambition, art and blood.

But then, The Frames’ career (and one uses the word in terms of careering wildly as much as any overarching strategy) has always followed the music. The platinum-selling For The Birds, released on their own Plateau label in the summer of 2000, marked the end of major label bad marriages, and fired with newfound independence the band set about forging a sound based on fidelity to their instincts. The result: an earthenware collection of skewed avant-folk songs that sounded like they’d been written in a hole in the ground and recorded in some hi-tech coastal cave.

Nobody could’ve predicted what happened next. Slowly at first, but with increased velocity over the next year, things began to snowball. The album went from gold to platinum, and in its wake, renewed sales of previous Frames albums such as Fitzcarraldo and Dance The Devil. Somehow The Frames went from being Ireland’s biggest cult act to one of its top selling bands full stop. Plus, they were starting to sell out tours all across Europe, the US and Australia. Glen did a stint presenting the music television series Other Voices: Songs From A Room.

Meanwhile back home, they could cherry pick slots on any festival bill they chose to play (particularly memorable were a Dublin Castle headliner and brace of consecutive Witnness sets) and by the summer of 2003, were co-headlining the Lisdoonvarna extravaganza in front of 30,000 people. Funny thing was, they looked like they always belonged on that stage. The Frames were no longer noble underdogs. Now they were the main event.

While preparing their fifth studio album, the band released the live album Set List, at last capturing their incendiary stage sound on tape. The Irish public responded by sending it straight to number one in the charts, making it their third platinum album. Hot on its heels, the top five single ‘Fake’ was released in September 03, spending months in the singles charts.

2004 saw The Frames sweep the Hot Press Critics’ and Readers’ Polls, and they also won their first industry gong in the shape of the Meteor Award for Best Irish Band. More to the point, the band confirmed a new international deal with Californian mavericks Anti, arguably the only label in the world that could claim to be the band’s spiritual home, boasting such artists as Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Merle Haggard. They celebrated this by touring America with Damien Rice, and spent the last few months putting the finishing touches to the new album.

So, Burn The Maps, is at once a musical tour de force and a statement of intent, an album whose campaign begins with typical Frames-ian audacity – an outdoor headliner at Marlay Park in front of some 17,000 people.

“With The Frames, it’s the throwing your arms around the room thing,” says singer/guitarist Glen Hansard. “When our gigs are at their best, you throw the energy out and it gets thrown back twice the size. I mean, I find myself saying things on stage that I would never say in my life, it’s almost like a whole new character or creature is born when you walk on. If you trust in the moment, if you’re willing to be the fool and make the mistake and get it wrong, then you’ve great potential to get it absolutely right. And I think that can be the scary thing about a Frames gig and the great thing about a Frames gig.”

 

Aversion - "Burn The Maps"

sample photoBurn The Maps
Frames
Anti- Records

You have to hand it to the United Kingdom: Not only does it create some of the best indie bands around today – think Coldplay, Keane, Snow Patrol, The Delgados and a dozen or so others – but it actually gives those bands the attention they deserve. Here, we’re still caught up on Britney’s short-lived hiatus, the American Idol farce and the return of Motley Crue.

The Frames are one of those acts that, were most Yanks not so preoccupied with crap music, would be huge. They’ve already conquered their native Ireland, and the hooky, delicate pop songs on Burn the Maps, vaguely similar to those of Snow Patrol, should, if there’s any justice, make the Dubliners a name in the States.

The first Frames studio album to receive decent distribution in the States, Burn the Maps finds the act expertly balancing fragile, spacious stretches against lush, full-blown, anthemic pop that’s somewhere between the arena and the bedroom. The act swings from bristling, big-chorus pop, complete with overdriven guitars to quiet bashful pop without missing a beat on “Fake.” “Sideways Down” switches away from radio pop to adopt a more sophisticated sound where a pair of acoustic guitars and fey vocals keep a string section from becoming too Belle and Sebastian, while “Ship Caught in the Bay” dabbles with electronic noises to augment its hushed dynamics.

The Frames always have been masters of the big pop songs as well as the lilting acoustic numbers, but on Burn the Maps, the band finally finds the formula to combine them. “Dream Awake,” building from a fragile guitar-and-voice number into a squall of drums, violin and electric guitars, shows the band’s expert hand at pacing and song structure. The seven-minute “Keepsake” follows much of the same pattern, slowly moving from a nearly twee voice-and-guitar intro to a high-pressure roar with all the presence of a Snow Patrol tune. “A Caution to the Birds” takes a more conventional approach, moving slightly between the band’s crescendo dynamics and up/down arrangements with guitar leads that crackle and bass/guitar melodies that glimmer with all the starry-eyed promises of the best pop.

Guitar pop comes in a lot of flavours these days, from college-kid clever and alt-radio catchy to grown-up and introspective. The Frames, who always commanded the former segment, make a play to capture fans of the other two types. Simultaneously weighty and accessible, immediate and intricate, infectious and introspective, Burn the Maps is just what The Frames need to put themselves on the map here in the States.

Matt Schild

 

Pitchfork Media - "Burn The Maps"  February 2 2005

sample photoOn their well-received 2001 LP--the Steve Albini-recorded For the Birds-- Ireland's the Frames got miles of melodrama out of only a couple of guitar chords. Unfortunately, on their latest release, Burn the Maps, they're far more ambitious. The tracks here frequently sounds as intimate as those on For the Birds, but don't stay that way for long, often ballooning into sweeping arrangements and choruses that find singer Glen Hansard screaming to the cheap seats. It can make for awkward listening.

Lost amidst the large-scale production, Hansard sounds particularly bare. On the earnest "Finally"-- the record's best tune-- the Frames strike the right balance between strangled, melodramatic notes and Hansard's sincere vocals. But most other songs on Burn the Maps suffer from bloated arrangements: The delicate folk of "Trying" gives way to U2 stadium-scraping guitar, and "Fake" leaps from three-week-overdue pauses in its verse into a swaggering chorus. "Dream Awake" and "Keepsake" also reach overwrought climaxes they never deserved. Please, guys, please-- one song without strings in the chorus! Just one. I know you have a violinist in your midst, but there has to be another way to bring the bombastitude.

"Ship Caught in the Bay" is an interesting experiment, with an Eastern-tinged drum loop and whispered, suspenseful lyrics. Like every track on the LP, it loudens and widens, but this time it's into a hard drum loop and electronic soundscapes rather than stadium rock. "Underglass"-- the only track that sounds like a rocker from beginning to end-- provides some well-needed catharsis.

The Frames could have used more tracks with consistent, engaging tones. Instead Burn the Maps often sounds like simplicity transformed into bloat in an attempt to sound interesting. It rarely works. Instead, most of these tracks simply move from captivating to frustrating to regrettable.

Jason Crock,  4.7

 

Sunday Tribune - Live at Vicar St. - September 26 2004

"Back In The Picture"

The Frames Vicar Street, 20 September

THE Frames couldn't help themselves: towards the end of their first encore they just had to slip in another old number, and Glen Hansard tore into crowd favourite 'Pavement Tune'. It was a characteristic crowd-pleasing moment, a part of The Frames that they cannot suppress, no matter how much they tried this evening.

This was a new kind of Frames gig.

Where previously there was a need to please and endear, tonight there was a determination to take control; in place of sloppiness there was discipline, and in place of the traditional joyful partying atmosphere tonight there was serious intensity.

Only days after the release of their new album Burn the Maps, the band's set consisted simply of the entire record played in order. No band indulges their need to be loved as much as The Frames, Hansard's cloying 'oh shucks' shtick quickly moving from endearing to grating as the night wears on, but not tonight.

Looking younger and leaner than in recent times and with a focused energy about him, Hansard was playing the artist card, sticking to the disciplined game plan by rattling through the album.

The tunes certainly benefited from the live setting, 'Dream Awake' putting the album version to shame and 'Keepsake', one of the record's highlights, becoming even more delicately beautiful. The set, though, was marred by the fact that there simply was not enough great material to sustain it, the new album having two or three great songs but no more.

Hansard, though, is that rare thing in music: someone who is so good at his job of being a performer that there is pleasure in watching him perform anything. His all conquering confidence is staggering, the obviously genuine joy he feels even while horsing out age-old hits like the encore's 'Revelate' completely infectious and his wit still sharp. "The Samaritans called and asked us if they could use this song, " he says. "To me that's the greatest kudos, it means the song is really fucking depressing."

When Hansard tore into 'Pavement Tune' it was a sign that the boy can't help himself, and that the old Frames was still poking out from beneath the surface of this surprisingly serious gig.

Matthew Magee

 

BBC ATL - Live In Belfast, 28.09.2004

THE FRAMES
ULSTER HALL, BELFAST

Tonight, The Frames are all made of stars. Sure enough, Glen Hansard is still catching the spotlight, still reflecting the fun, the rage and the daft angles of those songs. But more than ever, this is a collective effort – a beezer ensemble, making some of their deepest, most satisfying sounds.

Later, there will be time for some of the old entertainment. You can save that for ‘Rent Day Blues’, for ‘Star Star’, and for the tremendous havoc of ‘Revelate’ near the end. And in the Frames tradition, there will be snatches of other songs, chiefly an unexpected ride on Van Morrison’s ‘Caravan’. But for a huge chunk of tonight, you’re hearing fresh songs, impressively delivered.

The Frames have always been able to catch the flow of an occasion, to ad-lib and extend the songs to fit the mood. But there’s no diverting patter tonight, and none of the familiar introductions that have been losing their shine. Maybe the release of the ‘Set List’ album put that era to bed. Instead, we have musicianship of the coolest order.

Naturally, there’s Colm on the violin, the other founder member. He’s still a defining feature, especially live, when he summons the energy and strikes these alternative conversations inside the tunes – all counterpoint and verve. He gets his share on the new album ‘Burn The Maps’, and ‘Finally’ is especially illuminating. Rob and Joe are well established also. The latter sings a bit in a wonky, Appalachian, sean-nos manner, and we grin.

And we pinch ourselves occasionally. Here they are, 15 years on, still finding creative space, pulling in more fans and respect than before, already thinking about the next album, causing us to carry that refrain, “I want my life to make more sense”, with feeling.

So, another uplifting lesson from the Frame Academy.

Stuart Bailie

 

Oxegen.ie - Glen Hansard in Prague

Claire O'Brien was a little cynical, but the chance to see Glen Hansard play Prague was just too alluring. And, as it turned out, he put on quite a decent show, allowing Claire to come over all philosophical...

We heard about the Glen Hansard gig from a couple of friends who met him at a bar here in Prague, the grapevine did its thing and a big gang of us turned up to see what he had to offer. Speaking personally, and being aware of the vast acclaim he meets at home, he's not really my cup of tea. I can respect what he does, and I can see that he does it well, but the ex-lover, romantic-anger, stoned-theorising on life thing, has never appealed to me very much.

Thus, I was sceptical to see him here. Surely he's going to capitalise on his Irish charm and wistful red-headedness to win over the Czech crowd, I thought. It was precisely that which I have been trying to escape by living away from home for a while. If he made any faults, if he went too far, we could call him on it. If this guy chances his arm with any "the craic is mighty" bullshit, all of the residual respect I have for him would die. I was the sceptical critic.

The guy was playing a community centre. Honestly, it was like a youth club with a bar. There were about two hundred chairs lined up in rows in front of a humble stage, decked out with piano and mic stand. The bar was frequented by a lively looking bunch of hippies and students, and the odd homeless drunk, lured by the promise of the cheapest beer in the city. It was colourful homely, as though a bunch of squatting students just turned this building into an art house. I shuffled inside past a few hippies with their dogs and took a back seat behind the sound engineer, a geeky looking teenager sporting the traditional Jewish skull cap. Hansard's reputation had clearly preceded us!

The crowd came in all shapes and sizes, of no particularly identifiable musical affiliation, and of all ages. They were more familiar with him than I was, as it soon transpired that he's actually a regular visitor to the Czech Republic. I was even more impressed to find that he would always play in an obscure, intimate venue like this, for a nominal fee, and always got personal with his fan base.

Glen's support act, pianist and backing singer, was an impish Czech girl, whose voice made even Glen visibly astounded. She added layers of melody with ease, and ran up onto the stage whenever he decided that a tune needed her. Of course he did the usual crowd interaction thing, and got us to whistle or hum, and seemed to enjoy us every bit as much as we were enjoying him. I was poised for a moment of "faith and begorragh" when one of my confederates shouted "Go on Ireland" onto the stage. It was a relief to see him politely decline on this invitation to ungratefully trespass on Czech hospitality with some kind of petty patriotism.

Tonight was about music and the Czech reception of one of our own. It wasn't a stage for bringing the Irish together; it was an offering to the Czech people, who were free to interpret it as they wished. It wasn't our place to force a hackneyed image of our culture, but rather their prerogative to establish an impression of Glen and us, as they saw fit. The consensus was definitely positive. Of course he made the odd gag, much to my discomfort, because to a captive audience, only few people can get away with trying to be funny as well as seriously musically talented. But I'll allow him this, for inviting another musician friend of his onto the stage to sing, and graciously handing over the stage with awe for a young Czech singer songwriter who had been sitting in the back admiring his friend's work anonymously. Glen made a couple of "encores" and finished with Leonard Cohen's divine 'Hallelujah'. Amen.

After the gig, a small reception was held, with plenty of food and drink for everyone. I watched as Glen mingled around his friends and joined us to talk of things like "six degrees of separation" and music, and Prague, introducing us to the Czech participants in the gig, and generally having a good time. More than a few of us advanced sceptically, declaring our distaste for star-gazing and such. I even felt a bit hostile, wary of feeding some ego just by seeming too eager to talk to the writer of three Platinum albums. My cynicism dissolved however, and I felt bad for even entertaining those notions. Because he's just a singer, if we love the music, then it's us who create the star.

 

Buffalo News - "Burn The Maps"

The Frames, "Burn The Maps" (Anti)

Another export from the Emerald Isle, and like peers the Devlins, the Frames pack their taut structures to the brim with poetry and passion, soaring minor key melodies and divine production conspiring to elevate, just like rock used to do without having to be self-conscious about it. Fans of Radiohead and - oh no, not them again! - U2 will fit into "Burn the Maps" like a particularly forgiving pair of old denims; it's all about tension and release, and this band has mastered that formula. Heart on sleeve, fist in the air, Irish irreverence pumping through the veins, moments scattered throughout "Maps" roll back the rock and scream, "Wake up, dead man!" Review: 3 1/2 stars (Out of 4)

Jeff Miers

 

Derry review - "The Frames"

You might find yourself posing the question – who are the frames? Well, not any longer.

There has been something of a new dawn in Ireland for the frames, people are starting to sit up and pay attention to them in a big way. Their music is beginning to appeal to the masses. I asked Joseph if he thought this affected them trying to break into other parts of the world. He told me “I don’t think it actually affects us when we go to other parts of the world, but we are a strong, confident band at the moment and perhaps our success in Ireland has played a part in that. It’s nice to have the support of your home country/town.” I t seems they have a strong bond with their fans, and fully appreciate all support they receive. Perhaps it is the radiant friendliness that surrounds the frames that enhances their appeal. Which is why almost everyone who has came across the Frames hopes this international release is a success. Unfortunately, triumph has not come easily for them, it has been a long road for them, however when I asked the lovely bassist Joseph Doyle how he had found to where they are today, he assured me that “The road doesn’t seem to have been that long in retrospect” and that they concentrate on what they are doing now, and future plans. With the international release of the latest outstanding album, “Burn The Maps” the frames are set to take the world by storm. When I questioned the band about what they hoped to achieve from this world tour and international release they modestly told me “it would be nice to sell a few records overseas and be able to go new places.” It seems that the humble Frames are happy with where they are today, and they hope to get a good crowd and reception; as they have very successfully done at home.

The Frames are undoubtedly one of Ireland’s best bands, and seeing them play live is just about the most exhilarating experience you could live. After seeing them play in venues such as Derry’s very own Playhouse, I knew I could expect great things from them, however to play in front of some 17,000 people, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Perhaps my most vivid memory from this day is when front man Glen Hansard stood in the middle of the field just as they began to let the early revellers in. For me this was a sign, not that he was nervous, but that he was preparing himself for something big, and also that he is down to earth, as normal as you or me. He openly talked to the punters, until he was pulled away by security, and I say pulled, as this was literally the case. Never have I met a band with such immense respect for fans. His normality could even be detected on stage when in the opening of well known Rent Day Blue’s his harmonica broke, and he just laughed and said “it even happens when you’re on the big stage”. Joseph Doyle told me “It was an amazing day for all of us and must admit to feeling something warm in my belly when walking out on stage in front of that many people, that you know have come to see you. The crowd obviously made the day.” It is an answer like this, that let’s the world know how grateful they are to their fans, they are indeed, without doubt, a charming band.

Their mind blowing performance revealed some of the stunning new material off the album “Burn the Maps”. They took the audience through the quieter songs such as keepsake, and the amazing Dream Awake, which bursts into amazing sound that would please any ear, and the well known Fake. However, although all of the songs are filled with beauty that would make you cry; it was perhaps older classics such as Fitzcarraldo, which when he belted out the lyrics “I’ll see you down in history” made each individual hair on my neck stand. This is definitely a day to be remembered by all, as every single person was absolutely wrapped up in the electric performance. The euphoric atmosphere was made somewhat surreal when they played “heyday” which acted as a tribute to Mic Christopher, a budding musical genius who sang it originally, he was Glen’s best friend and died in an unfortunate accident in November 2001. Another surprise for the audience was when Glen started to play “the Blower’s daughter” on his guitar, and Damien Rice walked on stage and joined in. This was truly a great day for both the Frames and all who were there, and I would most certainly agree with Mr. Doyle when he said on behalf of the band; “Let’s hope we can do it again soon..” It was the mark of something new from the Frames, something big, bold and brave. These boys are definitely going to be remembered in history, and rightly so. The Frames- watch this space.

Clare

 

Daily Collegian - "Burn The Maps"  December 3 2004

sample photoIrish band making waves
by Matt O'Rourke, Collegian Staff

It can be a letdown when one learns of a band from overseas that doesn't receive the same praise in the States as it does in its home country. Once in a while however, a band can break into a music scene abroad as an opening act for another artist, or through a mix tape from a friend. Irish rockers The Frames are one such example. After touring this past year with folk-rock artist Damien Rice, The Frames have managed to earn a small but strong following here in the United States.

With the release of their live album entitled "Setlist," The Frames have captured the live show experience with all the highs and lows of actually being present at the recording. Recorded over a few nights in Dublin in 2003, The Frames picked the best tracks and compiled them into an album of 13 energy-driven songs.

"Setlist" opens with a punch in "Revelate." What at first begins with a recording of a song from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," soon jumps with intense guitar driven vigor into a moment that defines the rest of the album - pure rock. The crowd begins chanting along with Glen Hansard, the lead singer, as he sings, "My single slant, this broken chant." Heavy guitar melodies combined with rock violin create a sound that will blow away rock aficionados. Colm Mac Con Iomaire's sweeping violin solo melds the folk aspect of The Frames with heavy rock feel in a moment that is sure to give listener chills.

The chilling effect of Mac Con Iomaire's violin continues with "Star, Star," a soft ballad where Hansard sings about bringing out the best in oneself. Building in volume, the ballad increases in instrumentation and emotion.

Hansard proves that emotional singing can be perhaps the most powerful type of vocalization in "God Bless Mom," which features perhaps the best live moments of the entire album, while also featuring the worst. Complex guitar strumming, fueled by a driving drum rhythm, complimented by single chords on another electric guitar, highlight the vocal overtones, providing a dark yet rich sound. At about two minutes into the song, Mac Con Iomaire's violin and the rest of band break, but only for a second, coming together in perfect sync to make an incredible "grand entrance". Unfortunately, only seconds later, Hansard and his backup Doyle sing terribly out of tune. The listener is rewarded however at about three and a half minutes in, when a Pixies-esque bassline and guitar rhythm akin to the Clash kicks in. The moment builds and builds, with a sudden eruption of sound, where one might find themselves with their fist pumping in the air, or jumping with excitement. It's truly a moment of rock excellence.

"Pavement Tune" and "The Stars Are Underground" thunder with heavy guitar resonance and drums clattering precise rhythms. The Frames master their timing, never missing a key moment, and one knows they're well rehearsed. Three part harmonies are present, but in an arrangement that consists of either the guitar, violin and vocalist, or a combination with the crowd singing. Make no mistake, The Frames use the crowd as an instrument and they do it well.

Considered by many to be their best song back in Ireland, The Frames use "Fitzcarraldo" as one of their closers. Hansard found inspiration for writing the song after seeing a movie of the same title where a man had to pull a ship over a mountain. Using that metaphor, The Frames combine great songwriting with a well-arranged piece. A Spanish guitar rhythm (played on an electric) combined with dark undertones, makes for a great piece. Every instrument is important here. Doyle's bass line, the simple carrying drum rhythm, and of course, Colm's rock violin. Hassard sings "Even the good stars fall from grace and falter" as the band rocks as a single unit, combining different elements of world music, and varied rock influences, before climaxing with Colm's last solo.

Listening to The Frames is an experience, which is difficult to describe. It's something you have to feel. For those who miss the emotion in rock, - and this isn't emo - and who want to experience a live show without being there, this album is for you. There is something for everyone in their music, and you don't know what you're missing till you've given them a try.

Information from the web site theframes.ie was used in this report.

 

evox.ie - "Burn The Maps"

sample photo''Burn The Maps' isn't going to change the world. It's not going to convert many to the cult of The Frames. And in no way could it be referred to as a masterpiece.'

I'm going to apologise in advance. I am going to do something against my every single journalistic and human instinct. I'm going to start this review with a pun. I feel horrible for doing it, like I've let myself down. But there's no other option. You see, The Frames needed a Revelation. Again, sorry.

Anyway, The Frames received a huge amount of negative vibes after the release of their last album 'For the Birds'. Front man Glen Hansard was trying to create an album that was different. A concept album, one might say. Unfortunately, as the press highly criticised it, shoddy production values meant it failed in the most dramatic way possible. Despite this, the loyal fans stuck with the band that could be referred to as the Marmite of the Irish music industry. Never a group to be struck down by a slight misstep, The Frames are back with their latest album, 'Burn The Maps'.

The album opens with the soft acoustic riff of 'Happy'. Instantly, you know that this album isn't going to be full of catchy 'single' songs. This album is, for the most part, fairly mellow. Well, that is until the band explode into a hyperactive finale for most of the songs presented here. And, of course, there's two token recognisable Frames' songs - i.e. the ones that their legions of fans can sing and jump about to in their ever popular live shows. Getting back to 'Happy', this is a great opening. A catchy chorus along with a nice riff make this a great song to get you into the mood. Each of the band members gets an input into the songs, so you can expect a rhythmic bass line, above average drumming, as well as The Frames' major gimmick - the electric violin solo.

The rest of the album is unfortunately a bit hit and miss. Luckily however, the hit rate is considerably higher than the miss. We get some songs, that if they had have been sitting the Leaving Cert this year, would be coming out with marks in the high 500s. The haunting, yet lengthy, 'Keepsake' and the excellent 'Dream Awake' emerge as standouts.

The undeniable star of the show has to be 'Fake'. Ironically it's one of the songs closest to the band's earlier work, a comparison the band clearly wanted to move away from. Sounding like a mix between the Frame's own 'Revelate' and the Smashing Pumpkin's classic teen anthem 'Today', this is bound to find a place in the band's rarely changing set list. If you haven't yet tired of this song (which I hear has already received a more than substantial airplay), this will prove to be one of those songs, that above all else, just makes you feel good inside. Which is the area in which The Frames specialise.

The band do unfortunately make a few minor mistakes. The unimpressive 'Ship Caught in the Bay' and 'Trying' lay testament to this fact. And while the single 'Finally' is all well and good, the similarities between this and the likes of 'Rent Day Blues' seem all too obvious compared to the freshness of 'Fake'. It is one of the least well thought out songs on the album, clearly there only to please more casual fans, who just attend their shows for the chance to hear some of the band's more popular songs.

On the whole, the album is never less than impressive. The Frames are clearly maturing. They are slowly moving away from the style that made them famous, yet still paying homage to their roots. The balanced mix of pop rock and the other, somewhat more sombre melodies, make for easy, enjoyable listening. Of course, this would mean nothing if the songs didn't translate well to the stage, the natural home for The Frames where the foursome really come alive. This correspondent was lucky enough to attend the launch of this new album in HMV (all for you guys) and can gladly report that a large number of the songs sound excellent live, with a few that may even graduate to the reliable 'Frames Set list'.

'Burn The Maps' isn't going to change the world. It's not going to convert many to the cult of The Frames. And in no way could it be referred to as a masterpiece. It is simply a great album that is somewhat deeper than most, while at the same time being a thoroughly enjoyable listen and is bound to please the fans who have stuck with the band through thick and thin. And there is a chance, a glimmer of hope, that this is just the kind of mini-Revelation that The Frames really needed. As a final note, I would like to apologise for that last sentence.

Stephen McNeice

 

Blender - Joe's Pub, New York City, NY  12/4/2004

The Frames - Live concert

Irish folk-rockers debut new album material in sneak preview show

"This is all a bit strange," remarks Glen Hansard, frontman for the Frames, Dublin's other rock band, as he suits up for his second show of the evening at New York's intimate Joe's Pub. Hansard is referring to the band's recent rapid ascension into the limelight—particularly in their native Ireland—after years spent toiling in the wings.

The first cracks into the mainstream came with 2001's For the Birds, and the Frames hope to build on that momentum when their fifth album, Burn the Maps, hits streets in February. The official U.S. tour doesn't kick off until then, but the Frames treat their rabidly loyal fan base in the Big Apple with two sold-out back-to-back evening shows.

Frames live gigs are predictable in their unpredictability, most of it generated by the sharp-tongued storytelling of Hansard. Sporting a scruffy beard, the singer banters with the audience, whipping up sing-alongs and encouraging the audience to participate. The opener, "Plateau," is trademark Frames: beginning as a soft lull, climaxing into a frenetic and almost deafening crescendo and segueing into a cover of Jane's Addiction's "Jane Says." It's a classic Frames stunt and isn't the only tangent of the night; Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" also receives a Frames makeover.

The bulk of the set tonight draws on old favorites, including the thumping "God Bless Mom" and the folkish ballad "Lay Me Down," but it is the new songs that showcase a band clearly on the rise. "Fake," the first single taken off the new album, finds Hansard vocal trickery shifting from the dulcet lows to the rocking highs, and in a typically impassioned mood: "Come on, the guy's a fake/What do you love him for?/And it was my mistake/Just kicking in his door." Nearly transcending the stage, Hansard shifts into another dimension while singing; his fierce stare and writhing body vent an intense relationship with the song.

The Frames are at their most devastating when the entire band thrashes and bellows in unison as Hansard's voice and violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire's searing melodies duel. The unrelenting "Finally" captures this frenzied and electrifying state, while "Underglass" continues the take-no-prisoners tempo, with Hansard at a near shout. Then there is suddenly calm masking the racking intensity of closer "Keepsake."

When they return to these shores early next year with a new album, the Frames can recklessly Burn the Maps—who needs 'em when your route is already planned out.

Tony McMenamin, 4/5

 

Billboard.com - "Burn The Maps"  January 18 2005

Outside of U2, the Frames may be the biggest rock act in Ireland right now. But here in the United States, they are about as well known as Skip Bifferty, which is an indubitable crime. If there were any justice in this world, these guys would be just as large in America as their British counterparts Coldplay, who they surpass both in talent and longevity.

However, since 1990, their dizzying hybrid of arena-sized pop and indie rock complexity has been cherished by a small, yet loyal cult following stateside, augmented by frontman Glen Hansard's co-starring role in Alan Parker's 1992 smash film "The Commitments." Now signed to Epitaph's Anti- imprint, the Frames could finally reap the mainstream recognition they so richly deserve here in the States with "Burn the Maps," their fifth studio LP.

The follow-up to the career-spanning 2003 live album "Set List" is by far and away the group's most determined work of its 15-year career. It's a collection of songs that demand your attention, rife with soft/loud dynamics reminiscent of Sebadoh and Mogwai magnified to fill the lungs of a sold-out Giants Stadium, particularly on tracks like the cathartic "Finally," "A Caution to the Birds" and the transcendental closer "Locusts." Could an opening slot on U2's upcoming North American tour be far behind?

Ron Hart

 

eclectichoney.com - "Burn The Maps"

sample photoTHE FRAMES - BURN THE MAPS

While Burn the Maps still has the heart and soul of a Frames album, it’s notably different in its tone. Few if any of the tracks (aside from the gorgeous closer Locusts perhaps) plough their way through the acoustic folksome fields of yesteryear. Even when Suffer in Silence appears to do so, it gently swells to an impressively layered finish. It’s typical of the lush, rich sound, and musical strength of Burn The Maps.

Underglass is a definite nod to, or perhaps more of a tracing of, The Pixies. A tensely collected verse gives way to some of Hansard’s most angry vocals ever committed to record, even challenging the back-ends of Revelate and Fitzcarraldo. It offers a very different snapshot of the Frames than For the Birds, which was centred on a more lo-fi, stripped bare aesthetic, and stapled firmly to Hansard’s vision. Burn the Maps on the other hand, is noticeably a band effort. Keepsake flexes the muscles which were first discovered on the early b-sides of Turbit and Early Riser, and more recently Santa Maria. Its opening post-rock gambit offers a haunting motif, accompanied by Hansard’s stoic delivery, before descending into a feverish quagmire of anger and Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s once again breath-taking efforts. Sideways Down is awash with jangly tight guitars, soaring melodies and quiet-loud head rushes. In short, it’s the finest thing on Burn the Maps.

However, Ship Caught in the Bay’s descent into electronica, partly courtesy of Deasy’s assistance, still remains a highly questionable moment though, where doubts of over-production and inconsistency with the rest of the record are underscored and noted. For the most part though the band’s effort with regard to the production (as handled by guitarist Rob Bochnik and ex-Frame Dave Odlum) on Burn the Maps manifests itself in some beautiful touches such as the last handful of pounding drum beats at the end of Happy and A Caution to the Birds’ sheer depth and breadth of sound. Indeed, track five, Trying, seems consumed with ordinariness, when viewed in the same space as the likes of Happy and Dream Awake, and neither offers something a bit different nor one of those emotionally-charged peaks that the Frames are so famous for, and well-honed at, lashing out.

Ultimately though, Burn the Maps offers the next chapter in the story of a band who have shown that time and time again they can produce a little piece of heartfelt magic – such a rare commodity in modern music. Maybe it is not quite as instantly special as For the Birds, which in itself showed a much more vulnerable and exposed side to the band, but Burn the Maps does attempt to show another side, a side where The Frames are very much a band effort and not afraid of showing it. They’ve chosen their path, they’re on their way, and given the commitment and determination that is so pervasive in their songs, nobody would bet that they don’t get there.

Michelle Dalton

 

Shake'n'Stir - "Burn The Maps"

sample photoThe Frames BURN THE MAPS. Plateau

The Frames is undoubtedly Ireland’s best loved band. In world classification terms the band is up there with the very best, and in live performance terms few others can match its passion and ability to involve an audience. All this adds up to a strong sense of anticipation for new releases from a growing band of worldwide fans. In frontman Glen Hansard the band possesses a true great who revels in the live arena, and in leading his excellent fellow musicians. Characteristically over twelve months in the creating, the album (partially due to an unremitting and extremely heavy international tour schedule) eventually arrived a few days ago. It’s grittier, edgier, more passionate, more adventurous, and more involving than any earlier Frames studio album. In short, it’s stunning...

In my view, the trick of studio recording is to make the record sound like it’s a series of one-take live recordings. I find that this increases listener involvement appreciably, and takes one right into the eye of the storm. Track one hints strongly that the Frames are strongly aware of this. In more recent interviews Hansard has underlined the band’s key objective of remaining independent (the band records on its own Plateau label) and maintaining a tight grip on the recording process (Hansard has entrusted Steve Albini, ex-band guitarist David Odlum and band guitarist Rob Bochnik with most production and mixing duties). Happy is a slow-moving, contemplative, raw and strongly melodic song with one of the most expressive Hansard vocals I can remember. The achievement here is to accurately echo the song’s sentiments (“Come help me out I’m sick from the fight, from inserting a laugh where there’s none, show me where this joke got tired...”) through the recorded musical ambience. It ends up being totally credible, is an immaculate start to the album, and a strong hint of what’s coming...

Next track Finally has an anthemic, crusading vibe to it as Hansard’s voice changes to echo the song’s more upbeat tones. The instrumental passages are epic including some fine fiddle work from band mainstay Colm Mac Con Iomaire and superb riffs from ‘new’ guitarist Rob Bochnik. A stunning song by any standard. Dream Awake follows with a song that opens almost inaudibly but grows in scale as it progresses helped by stuttered drum beats and a mocking Hansard vocal. The final instrumental rush is nothing short of breathtaking.

Two more incredibly moving songs follow before the glacial, super-melodic and haunting tones of Trying appear. A close-mic vocal completes a song that is impossible to lodge from the brain. But then another memorable stunner called Fake bursts onto the scene. This was the Irish chart-topping single released last year to keep the fans happy and succeeded big-time. It’s pop/rock at its supreme best with a soundstage of exciting guitar riffs, superb rocky choruses, a vocal that travels the range, and a massive melody. If released and promoted here in the UK it would fly...

The final segment of the album illustrates how the band has evolved and progressed over the last few years, especially in the area of creating gut-wrenching instrumental play. The drumming seems more intuitive and mood-driven, the guitar work more dramatic and heavy rock influenced - Underglass and Ship Caught In The Bay are supreme examples of this, and I doubt whether you’ll hear anything as good on a rock record in 2004.

The album closes in an exceptionally inspiring way. First with the soft, contemplative tones of Keepsake with its haunting fiddle and keyboard passages, and the most intimate Hansard vocal. The song then concludes with an instrumental crescendo that matches the very best from Australian instrumental rock wizards, The Dirty Three. I can’t wait to see this performed live, and to witness the audience response... And then finally Locusts that typifies the unrivalled intimacy and listener involvement that comes as standard with every Frames album.

Last year the Frames released SET LIST (a recording of a Dublin concert) and showed conclusively why the band is so highly regarded as live performers, and the level of acclaim accorded by people attending the band’s concerts. BURN THE MAPS now proves that the band have mastered the studio and is able to create and produce what will go down as probably the finest rock record to come out of Ireland for many years. I do not exaggerate when I say that every lover of serious, communicative rock music should own this album. And I can promise you it will not leave your CD player for many, many months. It’s that good.

5/5

Please Note: BURN THE MAPS is released in the UK on the 9th February, 2005. If you'd like to buy this fabulous album now I suggest you log onto www.theframes.ie where I believe it is currently available.

 

JSOnline.com - "Burn The Maps" - January 20 2005

sample photoCD Spotlight: The Frames' 'Burn The Maps'

Radio-friendly doesn't have to be a dirty word in indie music circles.

The Frames' latest studio effort, "Burn the Maps" (due Feb. 8 on the Anti- label), may have more alt-rock ear candy than most of the band's earlier releases, but the disc's accessibility is a product of maturity rather than selling out.

The Ireland-based act reins in its wilder tangents and whims in favor of a more streamlined sound that shifts effortlessly between the spare folk-pop of "Suffer in Silence" and driving post-rock of "Finally."

Singer, guitarist and main Frame Glen Hansard has never sounded more confident as he spins tales of heartbreak and jealousy on tracks such as "Fake" and "Sideways Down." Frames followers who prefer Hansard fragile and seemingly ready to snap will find songs to call their own as well, notably "Underglass."

The band hasn't entirely abandoned its trademark quirky shifts in mood, either. The first three languidly intimate minutes of "Ship Caught in the Bay" dissolve into a rhythm-driven, fuzzy finale. "Keepsake" spends more than seven minutes building from a hushed piano and strings-driven lament to a psychedelia-tinged rock-out.

Gemma Tarlach

 

Anti - "Burn The Maps"

sample photoGo to enough extremes and you'll find a kind of balance. Until now, The Frames' music favoured bi-polar swings, violently loud on one song, violently quiet the next. On Burn The Maps, their fifth studio album, the band have reconciled their various personalities into one volatile organism, synthesizing gorgeous melancholy with full-blown anger.

If 2000's For the Birds seemed to capture the Dublin/Chicago quintet playing in a small room with nobody watching, Burn The Maps turns on the arc lamps. Served by their most faithful production job yet (courtesy of ex-guitarist Dave Odlum and new guitarist Rob Bochnik, who formerly spent eight years working at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio Studio) and recorded in Black Box studios in France, the new record is a skilful mix of widescreen scale and magnifying-glass detail, sort of like putting a Herzog still under a microscope.

So, you get the self-questioning psychodrama and martial rhythms of the single 'Finally', featuring a hackle-raising vocal from Glen Hansard and typically panoramic string arrangement from Colm Mac An Iomaire. You get spiky, nasty pop songs like 'Fake' and 'Underglass', with its dum-dum bassline worthy of Kim Deal. You get the seraphic boy soprano melodies of 'Happy' and 'Sideways Down' and the graphic 4am truth-or-dare drinking games of 'Caution'. And you get epics like 'Keepsake', distinguished by the sort of sea change dynamics associated with Mogwai or the Dirty Three. In short, here's a world where Spector collides with Steve Albini, Arvo Part with Sparklehorse, open-heart surgery songs that deal in love and hate, mourning and ambition, art and blood.

But then, The Frames' career (and one uses the word in terms of careering wildly as much as any overarching strategy) has always followed the music. The platinum-selling For The Birds, released on their own Plateau label in the summer of 2000, marked the end of major label bad marriages, and fired with newfound independence the band set about forging a sound based on fidelity to their instincts. The result: an earthenware collection of skewed avant-folk songs that sounded like they'd been written in a hole in the ground and recorded in some hi-tech coastal cave.

Nobody could've predicted what happened next. Slowly at first, but with increased velocity over the next year, things began to snowball. The album went from gold to platinum, and in its wake, renewed sales of previous Frames albums such as Fitzcarraldo and Dance The Devil. Somehow The Frames went from being Ireland's biggest cult act to one of its top selling bands full stop. Plus, they were starting to sell out tours all across Europe, the US and Australia. Glen did a stint presenting the music television series Other Voices: Songs From A Room.

Meanwhile back home, they could cherry pick slots on any festival bill they chose to play (particularly memorable were a Dublin Castle headliner and brace of consecutive Witnness sets) and by the summer of 2003, were co-headlining the Lisdoonvarna extravaganza in front of 30,000 people. Funny thing was, they looked like they always belonged on that stage. The Frames were no longer noble underdogs. Now they were the main event.

While preparing their fifth studio album, the band released the live album Set List, at last capturing their incendiary stage sound on tape. The Irish public responded by sending it straight to number one in the charts, making it their third platinum album. Hot on its heels, the top five single 'Fake' was released in September 03, spending months in the singles charts.

2004 saw The Frames sweep the Hot Press Critics' and Readers' Polls, and they also won their first industry gong in the shape of the Meteor Award for Best Irish Band. More to the point, the band confirmed a new international deal with Californian mavericks Anti, arguably the only label in the world that could claim to be the band's spiritual home, boasting such artists as Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Merle Haggard. They celebrated this by touring America with Damien Rice, and spent the last few months putting the finishing touches to the new album.

So, Burn The Maps, is at once a musical tour de force and a statement of intent, an album whose campaign begins with typical Frames-ian audacity - an outdoor headliner at Marley Park in front of some 17,000 people.

"With The Frames, it's the throwing your arms around the room thing," says singer/guitarist Glen Hansard. "When our gigs are at their best, you throw the energy out and it gets thrown back twice the size. I mean, I find myself saying things on stage that I would never say in my life, it's almost like a whole new character or creature is born when you walk on. If you trust in the moment, if you're willing to be the fool and make the mistake and get it wrong, then you've great potential to get it absolutely right. And I think that can be the scary thing about a Frames gig and the great thing about a Frames gig."

 

Hot Press - "Burn The Maps" - September 10 2004

sample photoFor 14 years The Frames have conducted the business of their art like filmmakers who reached a détente with the studio system through operating on a one-for-us/one-for-them basis. The first and third albums were made with label consultation (if not meddling), the second and fourth were the spawn of autonomy. But the schism also applied to the music: you never knew which Frames might show up on your door: the Albini-fied white-noiseniks or the rustic quietists camping out in Linkous’s woods.

This fifth studio album goes a long way towards resolving such radical mood swings – or rather, reconciling them within the confines of each song. Yes, there are still a handful of boisterous tunes trying to share a house with their more withdrawn cousins. In the former category, the splendid ‘Fake’, which could be Billy Corgan playing ‘Creep’ in the third person, and the Pixies-centric sandblastings of ‘Underglass’. In the latter, ‘A Caution To The Birds’ and ‘Keepsake’, with their churning undertows and random acts of violin-ce suggesting the apocalypticism of Godspeed and the Dirty Three.

But when The Frames integrate their various personalities, something alchemical happens, and a lot of it has to do with Colm Mac Con Iomaire. Hear how the violinist lifts the coda of ‘Happy’ into the realm of the elegiac with a series of sharp stabs to the heart, or the way his strings ennoble the carefully orchestrated dynamic shifts and no-quarter-given vocal of ‘Finally’. And if you’re looking for an example of inspired ensemble playing, note how ‘Dream Awake’ begins as one of Glen Hansard’s patented a-word-in-your-ear confessionals before Joe Doyle and guest drummer Graham Hopkins railroad it with triple-time polyrhythms.

At times Burn The Maps plays like a succession of Chinese boxes whose riddles only unfold after the fifth listen. ‘Sideways Down’ merges a warm melody with Martin Hannett motorik, conjuring seraphic boy sopranos out of avant-rock. The acoustic heart of ‘Trying’ gets a hole punched through it by great beaming shafts of guitar and Spector’s favourite rhythm equation (three on the floor, one on the tambourine). And true to its title, the percussion on ‘Ship Caught In The Bay’ clunks like a dory against the hull of a trawler after dark, glowing with an almost Eno-esque atmosphere before its stillness is ruptured by a loop straight out of Warp-space.

Make no mistake, this not an overly friendly record (diehards might justly complain about the exclusion of crowd-pleasers such as ‘People Get Ready’ or ‘The Blood’), but it is stubbornly true unto itself, due in no small part to an insider production job courtesy of Dave Odlum and Rob Bochnik.

So, Burn The Maps manages the considerable feat of nailing The Frames’ kinetic energies while simultaneously expanding their parameters. Here’s where it gets interesting.

Peter Murphy
Rating: 8 / 10

 

The Ticket - "Burn The Maps" - September 2004

The most trying band in Irish rock, The Frames swing from sweetly sublime to unpalatably precious, usually in the space of one song. They have it in them to be tuneful and tightly-coiled - viz Fake - but leader Glen Hansard tends to favour turgid self-indulgence. On Dream Awake, Trying and Ship Caught in the Bay, he seems to be going for a folksy reading of Kid A, borrowing that album's experimental-existential stance, but the effect is uncomfortably like Cat Stevens fronting Radiohead. On out-and-out rock songs such as Finally and Underglass, everything bar the quality control button is turned up to eleven. Sometimes a gorgeous musical fragment or the hint of a great song sneaks in, but it's quickly elbowed out by a droning vocal or a flurry of unfocused rage. Suddenly the Damien Rice album seems very alluring.

Kevin Courtney

 

RTÉ - "Burn The Maps" - September 17 2004

sample photoPlateau - 2004 - 56 minutes

There's a lot riding on 'Burn the Maps', The Frames' first studio album in three years. 2001's 'For the Birds' was released on their own Plateau label and started the regeneration of a band who had suffered more than most from the slings and arrows of outrageous record company fortune.

Now, 15-years-old, fresh from headlining Marlay Park and after signing a deal with prestigious Californian label Anti, they're a band finally coming into their prime. In The Frames' case, what has not broken them has truly made them stronger and their new line-up - no more Dave Hingerty on drums and the replacement of guitarist Dave Odlum by former Electrical Audio Studios recording engineer Rob Bochnik - are a tight and talented unit.

But is 'Burn the Maps' up to the weight of expectation? The answer, it has to be said, is a resounding yes. Despite a resolutely downbeat mood permeating the album, it's still an uplifting listen, mainly due to violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire. Mac Con Iomaire's strings have always lifted The Frames up and here they play centre stage, particularly on songs like 'Dream Awake', 'Keepsake' and stunning but misnamed opener 'Happy'.

After going the Steve Albini route of bare-bones live recording on 'For the Birds', 'Burn the Maps' has a richer texture and more lush production. Like 'Santa Maria' on that album, many of the tracks here have quiet, simple starts that gradually build complexity and volume. 'Finally' lifts, dips and lifts for frontman Glen Hansard to raggedly scream his way to the end while there's a nod to Mercury Rev's epic soundscapes on 'A Caution to the Birds'. Bassist Joe Doyle shares vocal duties on final track, the downtempo and acoustic 'Locusts'. It's a bittersweet ending that will leave you wanting to play the album all over again. The Frames - here to stay.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Happy - Finally - Dream Awake - A Caution To The Birds - Trying - Fake - Sideways Down - Underglass - Ship Caught In The Bay - Keepsake - Suffer In Silence - Locusts

 

Aertel - "Burn The Maps" - September 17 2004

There's a lot riding on Burn the Maps, The Frames' first studio album in three years. But is it up to the weight of expectation? The answer, it has to be said, is a resounding yes.

Despite a resolutely downbeat mood permeating the album, it's still an uplifting listen, mainly due to violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire. His strings have always lifted The Frames up and here they play centre stage, particularly on Dream Awake and the stunning but misnamed Happy.

A bittersweet farewell leaves you wanting to press play all over again. The Frames - here to stay.

 

soulshine.ca - The Frames ready new album

Published: 2004-09-03

Irish band the Frames are preparing to release their newest studio album. The record, called 'Burn The Maps', will be put on shelves on September 17th in the UK. The album comes on the heels of the band's live album 'Set List' which was released in February on this side of the Atlantic.

The first single to be lifted off of 'Burn The Maps' is called 'Finally', and was released in August.

One of Ireland's most popular and revered bands, 'Burn The Maps' will be the group's fifth studio album. Counting all the live releases that the Frames have put into the world, the band are already on their eighth album in just twelve years. The reason that the Frames have such an incredible number of live records is because that is where the magic lies for them. Renowned for their explosive performances, the stage is what the Frames are all about.

Although North American audiences have yet to take to the Frames as the Irish and British have done, it can't be much longer. The band just completed a tour of the continent including a few stops in Canada. 'Set List' and the accompanying tour have started something for the Frames that just might make them as popular in North America as they are at home.

Jaclyn Arndt

 

Hot Press - "Burn The Maps" - September 2004

THE FRAMES BURN THE MAPS

The Frames’ eagerly awaited new album, Burn The Maps, which is due through Plateau on September 17.

Arguably the most important record in their 15-year-career, the tracks stack up as follows:

‘Happy’ – “Come rescue me I’m sick”, Glen pleads, making a mockery of the title. At first his only accompaniment is a stark drumbeat, but this being The Frames, his pain is soon eased by Colm Mac An Iomaire’s celestial strings and his own multi-layered harmonies.

‘Finally’ – If middle-age is supposed to mellow you, no one’s told Glen who doesn’t so much raise as rip out hackles with his vocal. Add in a rhythm section (Paul Noonan is the guest sticksman) that’s pure ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’-era Joy Division and no wonder this is all over radio at the moment like a rash.

‘Dream Awake’ – Another slowburner which erupts when Mac An Iomaire puts bow to fiddle.

‘A Caution To The Birds’ – The whisky-sodden, five in the morning soundtrack to a breaking heart.

‘Tryin’’ –Two-and-a-half-minutes of Mary Chain-esque gorgeousness in which Glen, requiring salvation again, sends out a, “Lost my way/Come find me” SOS to his significant other.

‘Fake’ – Never afraid to wear their influences on their record sleeve, The Frames re-write the Pumpkins’ ‘Today’ with Top 5 conquering results.

‘Sideways Down’ – Tom Waits, Interpol, The Dirty Three and – most surprisingly – The Strokes all take their turn on the studio dansette as The Frames comprehensively nail this live favourite. And, yes, that is Lisa Hannigan on backing vocals.

‘Underglass’ – Scabrous feedback guitar, vein-bulging vocals …my God, it’s The Baggot circa 1991 all over again!

‘Ship Caught In The Bay’ – The emotional heat gets turned up again as Glen and Dave “Deasy” Cleary co-author the definitive lo-fi lullaby.

‘Keepsake’ – A jilted lover song which revels in its own brooding malevolence. Couplets like “I’m keeping this as a keepsake/And everything else I’m burning” suggest that the person who’s done the dumping should avoid dark alleyways for the foreseeable future.

‘Suffer In Silence’ – Despair turns to hope with Glen urging, “Come back, show your face/Can’t you see, you’re too good for this place/Can we leave?/It’s not your fault, what they say/Don’t believe.” Not to be outdone, Colm pitches in with another panoramic string arrangement.

‘Locusts’ – Joe Doyle shares microphone duties as Burn The Maps gets the soaring live to fight – and love! – another day climax it deserves

www.theframes.ie

 

Hot Press - "Finally" - August 24 2004

In which The Frames follow the broad strokes of ‘Fake’ with a seething pressure cooker of a tune. ‘Finally’ plumbs the grimy pipes of vindictiveness and vindication and eschews straight verse-chorus dynamics, instead churning around the fulcrum of a military snare drum and jagged rhythm guitar, occasionally relieved by the beams of light coming from Colm’s violin. Glen’s vocal meanwhile, is a clenched teeth turn that erupts into full blown wobbler in the final minute of play. Good to see them refusing to play to the gallery.

Peter Murphy

 

Hot Press - Marlay Park - August 23 2004

Live at Marlay Park, Dublin: The Frames, Supergrass, Idlewild, Bell X1 & Halite

You have to hand it to The Frames. Even Bruce and U2 baulk at starting new campaigns outdoors in front of 17,000 people – although Glen Hansard might claim that this is a farewell to Set List arms rather than the unveiling of Burn The Maps.

We’ll get to that in a minute; first the preliminary rounds. Your reporter just missed Halite but caught Bell X1, a band quite capable of being jagged and bold (a new song called ‘Reacharound’) when they don’t confuse heartfelt with hammy, looking like they’re playing the stadium in their heads rather than the one in front of their eyes. Following that, Idlewild had a fair amount of spirit but scarcely an original idea, while Supergrass possessed hits and experience enough to overcome the nerves incurred by a late arrival on-site.

But of course it was The Frames’ inaugural ball, and they ran with it. Mindful of losing the peripheries, they kept selections from the as yet unreleased new album to a bare minimum (the two singles and a heart-stabbing ‘Happy’). Indeed, the first act was an almost foolhardy tour de force of ‘Lay Me Down’, ‘Revelate’, ‘God Bless Mom’, ‘Fake’ and ‘Finally’, the latter tune built on a complex set of dynamic shifts illuminated by Colm Mac An Iomaire’s searing violin.

Thing is, they never really lost that first head of steam. The mirrorball memories of ‘Your Face’ became soul revue showpiece. Songs expanded with quotes (Jane's Addiction’s ‘Been Caught Stealing’ out of ‘Monument’, ‘Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ out of ‘Perfect Opening Line’). And as for ‘Fitzcarraldo’, here was a song that was always too big for enclosed spaces, Hansard’s shout of "I’ll see you down in history" still bringing up tingles.

The encores are traditionally where The Frames blow it by having too much fun and not knowing when to quit. Tonight though, the last half hour (‘Star Star’, ‘An Angel At My Table’, The Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind’) was loose yet intensely focused. Something magic happened during Damien Rice’s cameo, but more remarkably, it happened again during Mic Christopher’s ‘Heyday’, a looming tower of song.

A couple more years, they’ll be ready for Slane.

Pete Murphy

 

BBC ATL - Live In Lisburn, 12.08.2003

THE FRAMES
ISLAND ARTS CENTRE, LISBURN

He’s shaking his hips and he’s body-poppin’ to the urban sound. In a moment, he’s do a few mincing dance steps and he’ll moan about Britney in a mithering, falsetto voice. Tonight, Matthew, Glen Hansard will be Justin Timberlake, singing ‘Cry Me A River’. And we will all laugh and shout encouragement, to see The Frames at play.

Congrats to the people that have brought the Frames to a venue that’s not really associated with rock and roll. And actually, it works very well, certainly to the satisfaction of Glen and his fans. This band have often experienced messy shows in the north, but tonight it’s all working perfectly, hence the Timberlake tribute, mid-way through ‘Star Star’.

We were looking for indications of the new Frames music, to try and measure where they’re going with the new album. And while we heard many of the trusted faves, a selection of tracks show the new opportunities out there.

Glen has been playing ‘People Get Ready’ during the last couple of solo tours, so it’s not unfamiliar. It’s the first song of the night, and it does the job decently, calling all the sympathetic souls together. Later, there will be a tune in waltz time with folksy string effects, suggesting that Glen hasn’t grown tired of his Will Oldham records. And there’s a lesser known song, possible called ‘Under Glass’ that catches the themes of dislocation, confusion and torment rather nicely.

‘Keepsake’ is another boss creation as Colm plays eerie lines on his fiddle, like some eastern European lament. It’s also reminiscent of the Dirty Three and Glen builds on that melancholy drift, picking through the bones of another doomed relationship.

They finish with ‘Fitzcarraldo’ as Glen reminds us of the film of the same name and how pure determination can achieve heroic things. More cheers, a buoyant chorus and ultimately, a rave show in a new city.

Stuart Bailie

 

PopMatters.com - "Set List"  June 4 2004

THE FRAMES
Set List
(Anti)

US release date: 24 February 2004
UK release date: 23 February 2004

Unless you're Peter fucking Frampton, you're unlikely to win many new fans with a live album. Even the dinosaur rocker himself had already built a steady worldwide fan base as a session player, member of Humble Pie and solo artist (his later turn as Billy Shears in the movie adaptation of Sgt. Pepper's notwithstanding).

Yet most Americans are discovering Irish phenoms the Frames through their current live release, Set List. The band's Anti debut captures an energetic still image of a band equal parts U2 four-chord bombast (opener "Revelate") and quirky Barenaked Ladies pop ("Lay Me Down") shot through a filter of feedback-laden indie rock (the band's studio recordings have been produced by Steve Albini, among others). Eight-minute "Fitzcarraldo" even evokes Before These Crowded Streets-era Dave Matthews Band, complete with throaty emotion in the louder parts and proggy fiddle solo.

In short, why aren't these rootsy Irish heroes the next big thing state-side? Judging by the fervent crowd sing-alongs masterfully mixed in this recording, the Frames even put on a kickass live show.

One clue may be the songwriting. Though new track "The Blood" oozes with melancholy and "Star Star" offers the disc's best effort at tasty pop singledom, the songs rarely leap out on their own merit. This is pretty standard turn-of-the-century modern rock, leavened with indie-rock noise as a nod to the hipsters.

The passion underpinning each performance is sure to cinch this disc for longtime fans, as will the clever covers interpolated within the Frames' own songs -- "Pure Imagination" from the Willy Wonka soundtrack? Why didn't I think of that? These covers also reveal the band's shortcomings; the chords of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" may be no more unique than the Frames' compositions, but lead singer Glen Hansard stumbles through Marley's sacramental lyrics, even botching a key poetic device by singing the wrong words. (Hansard says "Your Face" was written about listening to Marley's music, but clearly he needs to spend more time with his record collection -- or any online lyrics database).

Such cavils aside, Set List depicts a band as good as anything else on "alternative" radio bringing its fans into audible ecstasy, if the "ooh" backing vocals on "The Blood" are any measure of audience joy. College students looking to pick up the kid in the dorm who always discovers the next MTV darling three months in advance might find Set List a suitably innocuous makeout record.

The band's considerable fire in concert is anything but unforgettable when set to disc, but their blend of indie and multi-platinum influences should propel any subsequent studio effort into the buzz bin alongside stronger, similarly accessible acts like Massachusetts indie-popsters Guster or fellow Irishman Damien Rice.

Marc Hogan

 

Anti - "Set List"

Set List contains optimum performances of songs culled from The Frames’ four album repertoire, honed and refined over 14 years of intense, elating and near-legendary live shows. The sense of profound connection forged between the band and its audience has often been compared to the evangelical feeling at shows by Springsteen and U2 – albeit with more skewed sensibilities – and it’s there for the hearing on Set List: in the indoor fireworks of ‘Revelate’ and ‘God Bless Mum’; in the audience’s full-throated contribution to the warped earthenware folk of ‘Lay Me Down’; in the rambling, poignant and funny monologue that prefaces the aching ‘When The Heart Just Stops’; in a version of the epic ‘Fitzcarraldo’ so incendiary one of the guitar amps went up in flames.

 

Pitchfork Media - February 3 2004

The Frames
Set List
[Anti; 2004]
Rating: 7.0

The Frames might be superhotshit in Ireland, but their careful, blowsy blend of cock-rock swagger and trad-folk delicacy has long slipped past the ears of most Americans, despite loads of rousing recommendations from Brian Eno and million-star reviews from almost every Irish periodical ever. After nearly fourteen years of touring (and four full-length LPs), the band has opted to release a 13-track live album, Set List, as proof of their insane stamina and hyper-dedicated following: If nothing else, the record is a hard and fast testament to the goofy fervor The Frames are capable of inducing in eager European crowds.

The tragic flaw of the live record is that it almost always offers an entirely compromised version of the genuine experience-- a watery, dull, one-dimensional representation of something that should ideally be transcendent. The Frames are stellar songsmiths, and Set List certainly proves that they're equally capable live performers, but by far the most interesting aspect of this record is the foot-stomping fervor of their perpetually singing-along crowd. Anyone nauseated by the prophetical leanings of Dashboard Confessional shows (check small clumps of skinny kids mouthing every lyric in earnest, whimpering along with their hands clenched into euphoric fists), or freaked out by the beer-soaked "Bruce!" bellows that send quivers through Giants Stadium whenever Springsteen plays, might be equally shocked by the enthusiasm of The Frames' adoring fans, who seem to be perpetually trembling with excitement. Somehow, The Frames have managed to capture the sweaty, breathless communion of the live show in some oddly convincing ways.

If you can get past gaping over the hollers of the audience, Set List just might be compelling enough to encourage new listeners to check out The Frames' proper discography. Recorded over four nights at Vicar Street in Dublin, Set List runs through the band's standards (see opener "Revelate" and the scream-along fest of "Star Star") and offers a single new track (seriously, how are these kids still singing along?), the quietly confessional, heavily falsettoed "The Blood". Frontman Glen Hansard is always playful, leading his bandmates into bits of Marley's "Redemption Song" and Cash's "Ring of Fire", and offering plenty of charming between-song banter.

The Frames have long imbued their playing with a certain elasticity, each song bending and shifting like a pulled rubberband, and it gets easier and easier to understand how fans can become so enraptured by the tug: Colm Mac Con Iomaire's fiddle-playing is breathless, and Joseph Doyle's backing vocals are expert, lifting Hansard's vocals and guitars onto a perfect pedestal. Alternately earnest and teasing, tracks like "Stars Are Underground" and "Santa Maria" prove that The Frames are actually far more than the sum of their recorded parts. Set List is not their first live record (see 2002's flaccid Breadcrumb Trail), but it is easily their most convincing plea for your ticket-buying attention.

Amanda Petrusich,  7.0

 

All Music Guide - "Set List"

Set List is the first Frames release under the Irish roustabouts' domestic distribution deal with Anti, in preparation for a proper studio full-length. It makes sense, the live album release -- the Frames have always made their name on-stage, and Set List will disappoint neither the ardent fan nor curious newcomer. Glen Hansard is a frontman of the beaded, bloody sweat variety, and his mates never get tired of amping the emotion with heart tingling wails of guitar and shrill fiddle. The crowd never tires of it, either -- they shout along with the righteous rock release of "Revelate," hesitate in hushed anticipation for the nearly nine-minute novella "Santa Maria," and coo like contented schoolchildren during the subtle rushes of "Lay Me Down." Hansard proves to be a storyteller of the classic Irish variety, all unassuming humor and prescient asides. His lengthy intro to "What Happens When the Heart Just Stops" (from 2001's For the Birds) is roundabout hilarious, and he lets it fade perfectly into some scattered opening chords before building the song to an absolutely elegiac moment of release. The rambling, dead pan folk-pop of "Rent Day Blues" offers a bit of a reprieve from this sort of soul-baring, but that's only to set up a pair of screeching hymns in "Pavement Tune" and "The Stars Are Underground." As the Frames are criminally underappreciated in the States, Set List can't quite avoid the patches of second-generation staleness that almost always taint live albums. In other words, you had to be there. But it still substantiates the Frames' reputation for punctuating passion with peels of feedback, making it recommended listening for the initiated and novice alike.

Johnny Loftus

 

Pitchfork Media - November 20 2003

The Frames
The Roads Outgrown
[Overcoat; 2003]
Rating: 7.4

"Conceptually, the collection of B-sides, outtakes, and arbitrary live tracks is an underwhelming proposition. Usually packed fat with studio scraps, bits of live shows, dubious band experiments, covers, and a mess of other shit that doesn't quite fit anywhere else, outtakes discs are typically devised as a boon for completists, assembled without the internal and temporal cohesion of an album, and delivered to the public with minimal ceremony. Check the outtakes disc as the musical equivalent of a Sunday morning yard sale: a row of rickety folding tables overstocked with dusty, aging crap that was deemed too valuable to toss blindly, but not considered functional enough to keep around. Staple a construction paper sign to the nearest telephone pole, drag a rusty plastic lawn chair out from the garage, and sell every last thing for a dollar.

Irish folk-rockers The Frames have been fractured and reassembled a ridiculous number of times since their original formation in 1990, and their latest release, The Roads Outgrown, features selected non-pieces and leftovers from their last three years as a performing unit: a Will Oldham cover ("Tomorrow's Too Long"), a Mic Christopher song ("Listen Girl"), an outtake from their 2000 Albini sessions ("Rise"), a handful of reworked tracks from their last full-length (2001's For the Birds) and a fiery, ten-minute live version of a cut from their second record ("Fitzcarraldo"). It's classic outtakes-collage, cobbled together from disparate sessions/periods/albums, but, surprisingly, The Roads Outgrown plays more like a cohesive project, its seemingly unrelated cuts assembled with an artful sense of unity.

The Roads Outgrown also functions as an oddly convincing introduction to the band, showing how their different methods/lineups always reach the same earthy conclusion: earnest, vaguely melancholic folk songs punctuated by quivering violins and frontman Glen Hansard's shaky country croon. Excellent opener "Lay Me Down" (reworked and re-recorded at "Joan's house" before being selected for inclusion here) layers a light acoustic guitar melody over heavy bass-drum thumping, easing out in a haze of violin pulls, Hansard's voice flitting from whisper to coo. "Headlong" follows, sounding a bit like a Radiohead circa-The Bends B-side, as Hansard howls and strums with welcome intensity. The Oldham cover, meanwhile, is plumped up with whining fiddles and half-whispered vocals, The Frames' delicate instrumentation breathing new warmth into Will's obtuse poetics.

The Frames' understanding of their own discography seems to have informed the fluidity of this collection, and its song-to-song coherence is both impressive and perplexing; while boldly varied in tempo, volume, and style, The Roads Outgrown is always concerned with its implicit mission-- namely, offering sincere, cerebral folk-pop crafted with the quiet confidence of a thirteen-year career.

Amanda Petrusich,  7.4

 

Sydney Morning Herald - November 18 2003

"What rock's all about"
THE FRAMES
Metro, November 14

An evening with the Frames is not so much a music concert as a non-stop lovefest.

The Metro, long sold out, was packed with acolytes and worshippers. So it was that for 90 minutes Ireland's favourite live act played all the songs their audience have come to know and love - Star Star, Lay Me Down, What Happens When the Heart Just Stops, Pavement Tune, Fitzcarraldo, et al - and the audience sang back at the tops of their collective voices.

In theory such adulation can create problems. If you know you are confronted with a room awash with unconditional love there must be a temptation to be a little self-indulgent and smug.

Glen Hansard, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, never allows this to happen. He is a master entertainer in a low-key way who relies on the quality of his songs and the goodwill of his audience to create an environment where bonhomie and sly musical incongruity seem natural. The presence of an electric fiddle in the middle of a hard-edged post-punk song like Revelate, and the use of the oh-so-dreamy Pure Imagination, from the Willy Wonka movie, are typical.

Hansard has also created a body of work which is characterised by a superb use of light and shade, his lead vocals moving from a whisper to a shout and the music shifting effortlessly from sweet melodies to grinding guitar riffs while always, hovering in the background, are the haunting, floating fiddle lines of Colm Mac Con Iomaire.

The Frames' success is based on one of the oldest, and most surefire, formulas in rock: the right of an audience to own the band's songs, and the astute, if unconscious, device of the band dressing down so that they look like their audience. There are no stars here, only a shared enjoyment of great music. This equality turns preening rock stardom on its head and makes the notions of "marketing" and "hype" seem absurd and unnecessary.

At one point Hansard gently, and with great good humour, reminded the audience that "This is my song", but they rejected that immediately. It was their song. He was merely the conduit. They had a right to sing it. And they weren't going to be satisfied with singing just the verses.

Hansard's particular genius is that he knows how to write songs which are ideal vehicles for audience participation. These are not songs where there is an impulse to sing along with the dopey chorus like, say, Blowin' in the Wind. These are songs with spaces for the audience to rise above the main singer. They are structured in such a way that the audience wants to start singing from the opening bars. The result is a magical live experience and a reminder that, for all the expense and excess which characterise supergroups, a special, heartfelt relationship between a band and its adoring audience is what great live rock concert is really all about.

Bruce Elder

 

Sydney Morning Herald - November 15 2003

"The edge on their compatriots"

Irish band the Frames leave audiences crying for more, writes Bruce Elder.

Imagine a situation where your low-key, relatively unknown band is playing a gig in London and there, right in the front row, is Brian Eno, founding member of Roxy Music, acclaimed electronic installation artist, producer of most of U2's legendary albums and the father of modern ambient music - and he's weeping.

Glen Hansard, the leader, singer, songwriter and guitarist with Irish group the Frames, tells this story with more than a hint of embarrassment. It must be pretty hard trying to sing and perform while someone in the front row is blubbering away. "To be standing on stage and have Brian Eno standing right in front of you looking at the band with tears in his eyes was the weirdest experience. Afterwards he told me, 'I was crying in Star Star.' For me, that was a huge validation."

Eno would later say that the Frames concert was the best live performance he had seen in five years. It was a big call but it was also a flawless judgement if the group's live album, Set List, is any indication of the power of their onstage presence.

Set List is, along with James Brown Live at the Apollo, Bob Marley and the Wailers Live! and a few other rarities, one of those albums in which the magic of live performance is captured perfectly. At one point Hansard, listening to the audience singing along to the beautiful Lay Me Down, spontaneously lets out a "Wow!" as though he, too, is overwhelmed.

As Hansard explains: "Our gigs are based on mutual trust. If everyone in the band is working together and the audience is good then there's a third element invited into the gig and that's magic and spontaneity."

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Frames is that, in an era when popular music has become a manufactured product, this group has returned to all the reasons that make rock music so special and so important.

Their history is long and complex. Hansard started playing guitar in pub bands when he was 13. In the early '90s he had two lucky breaks when he was invited to play the guitarist, Outspan Foster, in Alan Parker's film of Roddy Doyle's novel The Commitments and, around the same time, his newly formed band the Frames were signed by Chris Blackwell to Island Records. These breaks proved less than life-changing. Blackwell signed the band the day he sold Island Records and touring, with posters loudly declaring "featuring Glen Hansard from The Commitments", built false audience expectations and didn't allow the band to develop.

Back in Dublin busking, Hansard was persuaded that true independence was a sensible career option. "We were all buskers," Hansard says. "Every Saturday we'd have an audience who would gather and we'd play for a few hours and then we'd go and have a drink. That audience stayed with us.

"We were advised, after we had been dropped by Island, that we didn't need a record company to make a record. The plan was to play to our audience and to raise the money for recording from that audience. We were advised to tell our audience what we needed the money for: we told them we were playing seven nights in this tiny pub because we need to make a record and we need this much money to do it. The place was packed every night."

The result is that, without major record company support, they have reached a point where they are bigger than U2, certainly as a live band, in Ireland. Although at one time the Frames and U2 shared a record company, Hansard has no great love for Ireland's most successful band. "I don't think U2 have ever really communicated with other Irish bands. They never took an Irish band on the road. They never supported Irish bands in the press. I respect them and I like them as a band but I don't feel any personal allegiance. U2 are like the Catholic Church in Ireland. They're so f---ing big that we both fear them and respect them. You daren't say anything wrong about them or you'll go straight to hell."

It was therefore a powerful comment on the emerging status of the Frames that last year's readers' poll in the Irish music magazine Hot Press named the Frames the country's best live act. Hansard notes that, "It was the people's poll and the good thing was that Bono, in an awards ceremony, said, 'I want to say tonight that we know who the Frames are and we respect them.' That was the first time he had ever mentioned our name."

If they keep writing, recording and performing as well as they did when they made Set List, then Bono will be having lots more to say about the Frames.

The Frames play The Metro on Saturday, 9287 2000.

Bruce Elder

 

IRIS magazine - September 22 2003

The Frames "Fake"

“And he’s left you in the rain again, and you were always on my mind.” -- The Frames, “Fake”

Leave it to The Frames to find a way to take something old and make it new again.

“Fake” as a song has been part of The Frames’ live set for months now, with bootlegs making their rounds to fans around the globe. While the latest recording of the song takes an almost complete left turn from the stripped-down version most often heard, it is the right turn in every respect.

Fans may miss the solo sound of frontman Glen Hansard’s voice, but the double-layer vocals are refreshing, almost Beatles-esque. Couple that with the orchestral string arrangement and crunchy, grunge-inspired chorus, and you’re left with a radio-friendly song that sounds better with each listen.

The second track, ‘Precariously Aiming,’ is a departure from the normal Frames sound, and it works brilliantly. This song has an almost punk feel to it and just may be one of the best tunes The Frames have written to date.

‘Trying,’ the final track, is, to put it simply, beautiful. It begins like any other slow Frames song, but includes an audible bass line, the intricate picking of an acoustic guitar, and a drowned-out, but still-violent electric guitar, giving the song a strangely fluid, soothing feel. It is a fitting end to the three-song single.

While the cover art alone justifies the €4.99, it is the arrangement and production of the songs that makes this single stand out from other Frames efforts, “I’m gonna find myself a way into your mind…”

Angela Wade

 

Hot Press - "Fake" - September 8 2003

Easily the most radio-friendly of their singles to date, ‘Fake’s chorus could convince even Hansard-haters that Glen & Co. have something very special indeed.

A long-time live favourite, ‘Fake’ should soon be instantly familiar to the greater Irish public and not just to Frames devotees. Easily the most radio-friendly of their singles to date, ‘Fake’s chorus could convince even Hansard-haters that Glen & Co. have something very special indeed. A perfect microcosm of everything that makes The Frames tick, the song veers from almost-whispered confessional to exuberant proclamation with wilful abandon. Surely a hit single beckons…

John Walshe & Hannah Hamilton

 

Hot Press - "The Roads Outgrown"

From Frost's The Road Not Taken to Kerouac's On The Road, concepts of life progression and travel are ubiquitous in the artistic world. How appropriate then that The Roads Outgrown was compiled to coincide with The Frames' upcoming US tour. This mix of b-sides, rarities, covers and live material has been drawn from a variety of sources, previously unreleased in America.

Opening with Lay Me Down the album includes all the tracks on the Headlong EP (including the wonderful covers of Will Oldham's 'New Partner' and Mic Christopher's 'Listen Girl') and the live version of 'Fitzcarraldo' from the Breadcrumb Trail.

The previously unreleased 'Sickbeds' also gets an outing. Thematic parallels could be drawn here with the Egon Schiele-inspired 'Santa Maria'. The track is a melting pot of styles from its spoken word intro to its echoey distorted guitars, woven together in a rich sonic tapestry in classic Framesian style.

From the Lay Me Down EP, the country-tingled melodic canter of 'Tomorrow's Too Long' features with its co-flipside 'Rise', which builds layer upon layer of raw acoustica and soul-bearing lyric into an intense emotional climax.

Recorded in various flats, houses and studios everywhere from the US and France to the Czech Republic via Ventry this eclectic mix is an aural treat not to be missed.

Róisín Dwyer, 9/10

 

All Music Guide - "The Roads Outgrown"

"An odds-and-ends collection of rare B-sides, recasts of older tracks, and one live number, The Roads Outgrown also serves as a good brief introduction to the latter period of a band that has undergone significant stylistic change over the course of its existence. "Lay Me Down," the opening song, is the keeper of the bunch, with its bottoming-out bass drum rumbling underneath a hopelessly forlorn violin. There's also a worthy cover of Will Oldham's "New Partner" and a soaring live version of "Fitzcarraldo," one of the band's best songs."

Jason Nickey

Washington Post - October 16 2003

Glen Hansard barely spoke. Singer, guitarist and leader of the Frames, Hansard is normally an engrossingly loquacious frontman, generating offbeat tales, observations and general babble between (and occasionally during) songs. But apart from emphatically shutting up a heckler, Hansard trained his energies on music at the Black Cat on Tuesday night, leading his band through a magnificent 50-minute set.

The Frames enjoy widespread popularity in their native Ireland -- their latest single sits alongside those by Dido, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera in that country's current Top 10 -- but make the U.S. rounds mostly as opening act for midlevel indie bands. Tuesday they preceded the desert-soundtrackedelica of Calexico and veered from sharp to lush and loud to soft with tight instrumental command. Hansard's melodies are the key to the whole Frames equation, and he sang them with his trademark blend of subway busker and Van Morrison-ese, even slipping some of the latter's "Caravan" into his own "What Happens When the Heart Just Stops."

Fiddler Colm Mac Con Iomaire remained the quintet's instrumental fulcrum, taking solos and tempering the band's classic rock-derived tones, which, on songs like "Santa Maria" and "Lay Me Down," began whisper-quiet and built to distorted, string-scrubbing climaxes. Frames fans have been patiently awaiting a long-promised new album, but Tuesday's show offered only a couple of new numbers, played in the wake of the aforementioned new single "Fake."

Perhaps the new record, when it is released, will be the band's American breakthrough, but until then, the small gathering of fans who shouted the band back for a rare opening-act encore will savor each appearance by these underappreciated musicians.

Patrick Foster

 

mcd.ie - October 2003

In March 2001 the Irish band The Frames released their 4th album "For The Birds". It debuted in the Irish album charts at no. 6 and reached gold status there within 2 weeks. Throughout this past year it has picked up a slew of stunning reviews from both their home country and from across the Atlantic in America.

Back in Ireland after an amazing American tour and before hitting the road again in Europe, The Frames appeared live at the annual Hot Press televised awards ceremony from Belfast on the 26th April. Following their success last year in The Hot Press Magazine, where they picked up the coveted critics choice best album for 2001, at this years ceremony they were up for best album, best band, best single (lay me down) and best musician (Glen Hansard).

They also appeared on the Kelly show playing 'Headlong' their new single which came out on April 26th. Also, in April there was a Frames mini-documentry on Ceol I gCuideachta which aired on BBC2NI.

The Frames headlined their own gig at Dublin Castle on May 6th as part of the Heineken Green Energy Festival coinciding with an extensive Today FM interview which saw the band playing acoustically and talking about the various events that had happened as well as forthcoming plans.

During the summer, The Frames once again featured in the year’s Witnness Festival – this time with a slot on the main stage. The Frames were one of the bands chosen for a simultaneous live broadcast by 2FM. As with the recording of the previous year’s festival, the recording of The Frames set was offered by 2FM to EBU stations right around Europe. To date these Frames recordings have been broadcast by 19 European stations – a sure sign of the band’s international potential!

In between touring in America The Frames made time to go into Steve Albini’s studio again to lay down some new versions of "Headlong", "God Bless Mom" and Will Oldhams "New Partner". Along with a Mic Christopher song, 'Listen Girl', these four tracks were released as a single in mid May.

Since then the band have been touring solidly in Europe and the USA. They have just finished their first tour of Australia which has been one of the most exciting foreign tours they have ever done, with a reaction that exceeded all expectations!

The Frames spent most of November and some of December on an extensive tour of Ireland finishing off the year with a special New Year’s Eve show in the Cork Opera House accompanied by very special guests.

The prestigious Hot Press Readers Poll 2003 saw The Frames feature heavily in recognition of the quality of work they have done in Ireland and the devotion of their fans: NO 1 BEST GROUP; NO 1 BEST LIVE ACT; NO 2 SONGWRITER (GLEN); NO 4 BEST MALE (GLEN); NO 2 BEST MUSICIAN (COLM); NO 4 BEST POLLING ACT

The Frames were nominated in the following categories at the 2003 Meteor Ireland Music Awards: Best Irish Group; Best Irish Male Singer (Glen Hansard)

In March the band recruited a new guitarist, Rob Bochnik, via Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studio in Chicago (Rob helped build the studio and had worked there for 8 years as well as playing with a host of American bands). At the same time they parted company with their drummer Dave Hingerty. They are currently using a variety of friends to fill in until they find a permanent replacement.

March 2003 also saw the band back in the U.S. for a mini-tour of the country (Boston, Chicago and New York) as well as participating in the South By South West Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas.

April saw them nipping back to Chicago to record tracks in preparation for a brand new studio album.

Meanwhile Glen Hansard took a few days off to immerse himself in the production of a music TV series, "Other Voices: Songs From A Room", for RTE which he presented and which features a whole host of Irish talent performing live in the beautiful and intimate surroundings of a church in Dingle, Co. Kerry.

The Frames released the live album, Set List, through their Plateau label on 16 May 2003. It went straight into the Irish Album Charts at No 1 (the first Irish album of the year to hit the top spot). The band flew straight over to the U.S. and played 3 sell-out shows in New York (to 1,000 people at the Bowery Ballroom), Chicago and Los Angeles.

Summer 2003 in Ireland saw the band play stupendous sets at the 2 main Irish festivals of the year (Witnness and Lisdoonvarna) to tens of thousands of slavering fans.

At the beginning of September 2003 a brand new single, "Fake", was released offering an advance taster of the band’s next studio. It shot straight into the Irish charts at No 4. In typical celebratory mood, the band flew straight to the U.S. to embark on their longest tour to date which will be followed by an Australian tour before The Frames return for a pre-Christmas tour of Ireland throughout December.

 

What the critics have said......

"Gorgeous, feedback-soaked swoon songs....a weirdly warm place to be" 7/10 Andy Greenwald, Spin Magazine

"The Frames with their latest record, have made a recording that rock's new breed of songwriter bands must attempt to measure up against..." Justin Hopper, Pittsburgh City Paper

"For The Birds is a literate, delicate and passionate record that says with the sort of majestic weariness embedded in the Dirty Three's best work..." Rolling Stone Magazine

"Sounding like a head on collision between Smog, dEUS and the Pixies (and believe me that doesn't do them justice), live they are simply fucking astounding. Do yourself a big favour, seek them out and buy the record - you won't be disappointed." Andy Basire, Making Music UK

"A beautiful, beautiful record that will just enrich your heart and make you glad you took the time to listen" BBC online UK

"Absolutely and completely outstanding." Dave Roberts, The event guide, Dublin Ireland

"Dublin's finest spread their magic in Austin." Music Week reporting from SXSW Festival, Texas

"The gig of the festival…..if you’re bored of music, then go and see The Frames. They’ll work wonders". BBC Radio reporting from the Witnness Festival

 

MEAS Events - The Frames, University Concert Hall 09/12/03

I’ve been to all the MEASevents so far and all of them have delivered. The cream of Irish music producing top class live performances. But there was always going to be a highlight, always going to be a stand out moment and when the list of names for the gigs was announced you kind of new it was going to be the finale. The Frames in the Concert Hall and just like everyone else they delivered.

I’ve been to many Frames gigs in UL, all of which left me marvelling at how a band could be this good and not be taking over the world. The student centre sessions and the Monet sessions are the stuff of legend, but this performance was very different. From the moment they walked on stage they exuded the confidence and purpose of a group of people who know who they are and where they are going, they have nothing to prove any more. They’re just up on stage doing their thing. Everything from the huge back drop to the level of production told you this was something new from the Frames. No two and a half hour set in an effort to prove that they are the best live band in the country just and hour and a half of high quality music, great lighting and a connection with the audience that most bands can only dream about.

The Concert Hall is a bizarre set up with the band sitting or standing in the middle of the very large Concert hall stage and the audience sitting, what seemed like very far away from them, in their lecture seats. And it takes a while to get used to it but it was a sign of how good the Frames are that despite the reservation of a few edgy members of the crowd that we all settled in nicely. By the end we are all standing which was a first for the concert hall although I am assured it was exactly the same the night before at their other sold out performance, All 1000 members of the audience finished the gig on their feet in party mood.

They opened with a new song and a simple "Hello" from Glen. Then the stage was bathed in orange light for 'Locusts' and from our seats near the sound desk they looked and sounded great. If it’s one thing about the concert hall, the acoustics are always first rate. Glen's familiar catch phrase "Thanks a lot folks" and another new quiet, number. The crowd seemed to be getting a little restless at this stage, wanting to hear some of the familiar songs. But they had to wait a little longer. Glen on his guitar started another new song with Joe coming in on the keyboard then the slide guitar, Colm on fiddle and even John Boyle, the drummer, playing guitar to build the song up to a crashing crescendo. From there it moved into familiar territory with 'Seven Day Mile’ from the album ‘Dance the Devil’ where Colm Mac Con Iomaire solo on fiddle was inspiring.

At this point Glen started his normal banter with the crowd introducing 'Lay me down' with a story about buying a grave plot for a girlfriend. Sensing the crowd were getting a bit restless, he cut it short and gave an amazing rendition of the song, one of their biggest hits to date. They picked the pace up with 'God Bless Mom' and seemed to be enjoying themselves with lots of grinning from Glen and Joe while they played. The student anthem 'Revelate' had the whole place on their feet, shouting and clapping. 'Rent Day Blues' and 'Pavement Tune', with the well-known chorus and student mantra, "I want my life to make more sense" followed in swift succession. 'Finally', was next up, another new song and Glen delighted in telling the audience how they had partied “Limerick style” the night before. To finish, they played the beautiful 'Star, Star' and then left the stage after playing a storming, extended version of 'Fake', their recent nationwide hit, the place erupted when they left the stage.

Glen came back to play a song called ‘Limerick’, a cover of the John Hegarty song from the Other Voices album, learned especially for the gigs here. For the second encore, the band came out and played ‘Friends and Foe’ and ‘Dance the Devil’ which both prompted a rousing response. They received a standing ovation and made one more appearance, though Glen made a point of saying ‘I wanted to send you home on that one, but we had an argument backstage”, before starting the song. They finished the gig on a high note with ‘Perfect Opening Line’.

So overall it was a different Frames experience, much more polished, much slicker and much more together than I’ve ever seen them before. But rather than take away from the old feel, it added to it. Like I said, they have nothing to prove so they’re not trying as much and because of that, it’s better, you leave the room wanting more and that’s the way it should be! Now I can see them taking over the world!

- KP

 

Iris Magazine - "Other Voices" June 2003

The format sounds deceivingly simple: Philip King (Hummingbird Productions) and Glen Hansard (The Frames) recruited twenty artists to perform at St. James’ Church in Dingle between the 14th and the 19th of December, 2002. The programme, aptly called ‘Other Voices: Songs from a Room,’ was “dedicated to celebrating new and innovative Irish voices.” ....

 

Iris Magazine - "Set List" June 2003

"What is there to say about the Frames that hasn’t already been said? Musical nomads, they consistently surpass themselves with each consecutive effort. Whether you love them or you hate them, the Frames always inspire a passionate response in their listeners." ....

 

Sydney Morning Herald - "Set List" - July 25 2003

The Frames, Set List (Plateau Records/MRA), *****

Stop the presses: a five star review. Can the darlings of Ireland's music scene really be this good? By Bruce Elder.

You've got to be special to knock U2 off their perch. Enter the Frames, who topped both the best group and best live act categories in this year's readers' poll in Hot Press, Ireland's premier music paper. Brian Eno also described their 2001 London concert as the best he had seen in five years.

This glorious live recording shows exactly why the Frames are the darlings of Ireland's music scene.

It captures the excitement, passion, enthusiasm and love which can make concerts so special and memorable.

Who would have ever thought that Glen Hansard, the red-headed guitarist in The Commitments, would give his career such shape and promise?

It has taken the Frames a decade to get to this point. Since they formed back in the early 1990s, they have recorded six albums and enjoyed some chart success in Ireland.

Yet it is with Set List, a sublime distillation of the very best of their work to date, that they lay claim to being extraordinary.

Their strange mix of post-punk power pop, Pearl Jam, Irish folk (why else have a fiddle in a band?) and, for want of a better term, the ambience of Tim Buckley and Nick Drake, is original and captivating. They understand the importance of light and shade and the complex dynamics of live performance, moving from a whisper to a shout, a sweet melody to a grinding guitar riff, a floating fiddle line to, of all things, a few lines of Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and a chorus from Bob Marley's Redemption Song.

There are moments of transcendental magic on this album, when the warmth between the audience and the musicians spills over into shared ecstasy. At one point in the middle of the gorgeous Lay Me Down, as the audience is singing along, one of the members of the band, hearing the perfect symbiosis between the fans and Glen Hansard, lets out a spontaneous "wow" at the emotion of the moment.

Local audiences can go wow when the band tours in November.

IN THE PICTURE

Formed: Dublin, 1990
Named: The Frames because Glen Hansard used to repair bicycles and had bicycle frames around the house
See: The Commitments and marvel at what Hansard looked like 12 years ago

 

shakenstir.co.uk - "Set List" - May 2003

SET LIST - Recorded Live In Dublin November, 2002

There are live albums and there are LIVE albums. This is a LIVE album and one of the finest I've ever heard. In fact the news came through today that SET LIST has shot up to the number one position in the Irish album chart. Anybody who has had the privilege of seeing the Frames live will understand why. No other Indie band can match the dynamism, passion and raw emotion of a Frames show.

What's so great about this album is that it's a fine recording of one show in Dublin, and so you get the intro crowd applause, you get the typical Glen Hansard improvisations, you get the very best of the band's songs, and you even hear the crowd singing along. It's what LIVE is all about and the reason it's a chart smash is because Frames shows are rammed to the rafters, and thousands of fans can at last go home with a record of what it's like to be there.

And it's like nothing on earth! Opener, the classic Revelate, gets the album off to a thunderous start and provides an opportunity for the crowd to 'warm the vocal chords'. At one point during the song's passage, Hansard stops singing and you hear the crowd taking over. Then straight into Star Star, another live favourite, with its fairytale ambience and gorgeous vocal harmonies. One of my favourite Frames songs, Lay Me Down, starts and midway Hansard hands over to the audience for a spellbinding moment. Then a comic interlude when Hansard lowers his voice to imitate Johnny Cash in a shortened rendition of Ring Of Fire.

Major favourite, God Bless Mom, with its silly vocal harmonies and guitar thrashes is up next. It seems to go on forever with little comments from Hansard and, of course, massive crowd 'assistence'. You just have to hear this rendition to believe it. One word - AMAZING! At this point, I've closed my eyes and I'm fuckin' there screaming with the crowd, and then wandering what's coming next. Hansard then tells the audience about the next song in his strong Irish lilt, embellished with funny stories. The audience laugh endlessly - Hansard has a wonderful sense of humour. Then the utterly beautiful, moving What Happens When The Heart Stops from the last studio album.

A really great song is next and the crowd are beside themselves and at one point sing louder than the band. The song as performed here has a strong country vibe provided by some spectacular instrumentals. It's Rent Day Blues with it's crazy harmonies and soaring guitar chords. But the crowning glory is the fiddling by Mac Con Iomaire that signals the final flailing dash for the line. Wonderful! Pavement Tune is next up and the band are at full stretch with Hansard literally screaming the lyrics accompanied by a crowd that just cannot contain itself. Shit, I wish I was at this concert! The instrumentals then quieten while Hansard talks his way to the end of the song, but not before the guitars have one final thrash just to let you know they're still around. The quiet and emotional tones of The Stars Are Underground offer time for calm and you can visualise the audience swaying gently and quietly in time with the song. Then there's almost total silence as a few percussive twinkles are heard, then it gets louder and louder and louder as the bass guitar finds its voice again and the crowd start to 'make some noise'. Then all the instruments join in and it's another dash for the tape, but this time it's not the sixty yard dash, it's the longer distance 1600 metres...

Perfect Opening Line - the perfect introduction to the closing segment of the album - an example to any band on how to mix and match mood and pace, and blow your audience completely away! The song exemplifies the band's unmatched ability to mould superb melodies into intelligent, heartfelt songs and involve the listener. It's quite remarkable and in my experience almost unique. Your Face is another prime example which rolls quietly along supported by a simple guitar part, and then builds and builds to a wonderful crescendo; and takes you right along with it. Then Hansard turns the song on its head by completing it in the style of a love ballad. Stunning.

Fitzcarraldo starts teasingly with gentle whisps of guitar and fiddle before you realise which song it is. And then it hits; that familiar melody, that pleading vocal, that mornful fiddle and then that crashing guitar. Can you imagine it? Of course you can't because you've never heard it or seen it. Well, with this record comes the opportunity to believe in rock music again, to witness first-hand how the finest music can be written and performed. You are unlikely to hear it on the radio or see it on your TV, or read about it in today's, slanted and narrow-minded UK music press. But it's here, and it's available, believe me. You may hear about from a friend. I'm your friend and I'm telling you to get hold of this record any way you can because you won't hear anything more exciting or inspiring or involving this year.

But there's another interesting thing about SET LIST that I think could or perhaps should influence future studio recordings. And it's the more vibrant and exciting ambience which gives songs of diverse pace and mood, substantially more life.

This wonderful album closes with a new song that I think will appear on the next Frames studio album. The Blood is performed by Hansard accompanied only by his tattered, battered, ancient guitar. It's one of the most moving and beautiful songs you will ever hear. And in this live ambience, its rawness cuts like a scalpel through the thickest hide. The crowd joins in with the chorus and it's the perfect closing line to one of the best albums I have ever heard. So while I start listening to it all over again for the umpteenth time, get on the Internet and click onto www.theframes.ie and get your credit card out. Enjoy the ride.

Tony, 5/5

 

RTÉ.ie - "Set List" - May 2003

The Frames - Set List *****
Plateau - 2003 - 73 minutes

The Frames have always been renowned for their live shows. Anyone who has experienced the band in concert will have seen the intense connection between charismatic frontman Glen Hansard, a group of superb musicians, and an equally committed audience.

Incredibly, 'Set List', recorded over four pre-Christmas 2002 shows in Dublin's Vicar Street, manages to capture the sound and feeling of live Frames. It's never been enough for the band to stand on stage and merely reproduce songs from their recorded output - they always go that extra mile, turning a mere concert into a total Experience.

From the Willy Wonka moment of 'Pure Imagination' in 'Star Star' (Glen: "Close your eyes, count to three, make a wish..."), to the audience participation on new track 'The Blood', the diversion into Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song' on 'Perfect Opening Line' and the amp explosion in the middle of 'Fitzcarraldo', the energy never lets up, on either side of the stage.

'Set List' is a perfectly posed snapshot of a rare alchemy between audience and musicians. Not just for Frames fans.

Caroline Hennessy

 

Eclectic Honey - "Set List" review

SETLIST (LIVE IN DUBLIN NOVEMBER 2002)
THE FRAMES

And so it is left to the seventy-three minutes of Setlist to try and replicate the experience of three hour sets, twenty minute stories about Van Morrison's birthday, Glen Hansard's stage-diving and countless other aspects that have helped The Frames to scribble out their subtitle of being one of the best live bands in the country and to replace the world 'Ireland' with 'The World'. It's an unenviable task, and one that's virtually impossible, but Setlist is the closest thing you'll ever get to being there. And what better way to open it all than with Revelate.

It's the quintessential Frames song; the one you wait longingly for at every performance just so you can scream the words "Redeem Yourself" and bask in the glory of your 'number eight' t-shirt. It's a remnant from the struggles of life with a record label that doesn't support your music or your philosophy, and it's a song about things somehow turning themselves around, and as such it encapsulates the very essence of the Frames. Only Glen Hansard could pull off singing a line from Charlie and The Chocolate factory in the middle of Star Star, or casually lapse into The Ring of Fire at the end of lay me Down. In fact Hansard is the extreme opposite of the front-man who barely mumbles a forced 'thank-you' every three songs. His love for sharing stories is nowhere more apparent than the two-minute-plus preface to a beautifully delivered What Happens When the Heart Just Stops.

Next up comes a version of God Bless Mom that never seems to end, switching between full-on rock-out and constrained stuttering with a delicate ease. If Revelate is their calling card, God Bless Mom is the highlight, and the performance on Setlist is the finest I've heard it. Pavement Tune is the Frames song that should have got to number one, if only things had worked out right; live, it's every bit as immediate. Santa Maria remains one of their finest songs committed to a CD, and the live vocal performance that Hansard summons is every bit its match.

Setlist draws a line in the sand; twelve months ago the band played to 5000 fans in Dublin Castle and with their ever-growing popularity they are rapidly having to upsize their choice of venues. The day that the Frames outsold Justin Timberlake to steal the number one spot in the Irish charts with this album won't be forgotten. And neither will the legacy of Setlist.

 

Hot Press - "Set List" - May 8 2003

"THE FRAMES GREATEST LIST"

It is usually nigh-on impossible for live albums to capture the magic of actually being at a gig, and you would think that for The Frames, that goes doubly so.

After all, The Frames live are a totally unique experience: every gig is a communion of sorts between band and audience, a tribal gathering that has been growing apace for the last three years or so. And yet, Set List, recorded over four nights in Vicar St. late last year, somehow manages to capture the fairy dust that makes Glen Hansard and co. such a riveting proposition on stage.

They get crowd pleasers Revelate and Star Star out of the way early, the former a big, bawdy singalong, which has had a cathartic effect on a whole generation of Irish kids; the latter swoonsomely perfect, with the now obligatory trip to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory in the middle-eight.

Perversely, for a band who seem to give so much of themselves away to the audience with every performance, they end up all the greater for it. Perhaps The Frames" most valuable asset is their versatility, turning from righteous anger to pin-dropping pathos in a heartbeat (God Bless Mom, Pavement Tune, and a monumental Santa Maria.)

The punters packed into Vicar St. play as large a part in the success of Set List as The Frames themselves. Unlike on many ultra-precious live recordings, here audience participation is not just recommended, it's mandatory, and the good people of Ireland do themselves proud on Lay Me Down, the Kool & the gang bit on Rent Day Blues and especially on the only new track present, The Blood.

There are a few surprises along the way, including excerpts of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire and Bob Marley's Redemption song, as well as Glen's hilarious and poignant introduction to What Happens When The Heart Just Stops.

Set List is the sound of a band at the peak of their powers, from Colm's stunning fiddle-work to Joe Doyle's perfect backing vocals, with the boy Hansard as magical Master of Ceremonies, effortlessly guiding musicians and audience through their paces.

Even people who dentate love The Frames have to concede that they're a fabulous live band - and so it's no small recommendation to say that Set List succeeds in doing them justice.

John Walshe 9/10

 

BBC ATL - Elmwood Hall, Belfast - 10.11.2002

THE FRAMES, TURN, WHAT’S THE FUSZ
THE ELMWOOD HALL, BELFAST

It would seem there’s a healer in the building. People are whooping, throwing their hands in the air and cheering, often for no particular reason. Welcome to the cult of Glen - it’s the last night of a brilliant Belfast Festival with The Frames headlining the Elmwood Hall.

ATL demo derby winners What’s The Fusz have the honour of opening at this biblical event. The venue is close to full before they even start, and under such pressure they do themselves (and us) proud. For a young four piece still finding their feet, WTF are very impressive: tight and collected. The tunes are there and each is performed flawlessly. Surprisingly then, they don’t seem to be enjoying the experience much, or maybe they’re just too cool to show it.

Turn are such a great band. It’s only now, with rumours circulating that they’re about to lose bassist Gavin to Idlewild, that we really appreciate that fact. Ollie seems even more bitter than ever, introducing the ‘hits’ with more than a little sarcasm. But he’s also a charmer, and the songs sound so good tonight you end up sharing his dismay at the bands bad run. ‘In Position’ sounds even more poignant than ever, especially when Ollie sings the line about thinking of Scotland. Hopefully Gavin isn’t doing just that.

And so to The Frames. All the best things they’ve done are present and correct: ‘God Bless Mom’, ‘Headlong’ and ‘Pavement Tune’ are particularly glorious. For those seeing this band for the first time, the ‘impromptu’ covers (‘Two Little Boys’, ‘The Model’) make the band look like the cleverest bunch of musicians on the planet. Most of us have seen these things done before, and take more pleasure in a couple of promising new songs, like the lovely ‘People Get Ready’, a song apparently based on verses from Luke’s Gospel.

The crowd are on their best behaviour, lapping it all up. In fact, the gushing response to everything becomes tiresome and even embarrassing. At one point, Glen gave up on reaching the punchline of a typically rambling story, simply because he couldn’t finish a single sentence without getting a massive cheer.

It’s a strange one, because next week we’ll no doubt be complaining about an audience’s indifference. Its just last night ended up a little too cosy for comfort. But let’s not take away from what happened on stage. The Frames are a band out on their own: charismatic, creative, both raucous and lovely, often at the same time. More than a little special, but let’s just calm down people, shall we?

David O Reilly

 

Amazon.com - "For The Birds"  July 2002

"Few albums are rich enough with a sense of place that they transport you to a different landscape. Engineered by famed producer Steve Albini, the Frames' fourth full-length release, For the Birds, is such an album. But instead of dropping you in Ireland, the band's home, or in any other physical location, For the Birds lures the listener to an interior terrain both familiar and remote. Without a single throwaway track, this album deftly escapes pathos, despite its focus on clichéd indie-pop themes of heartache and loss. A slow pulse-like bass line, rueful violin, mesmerizing guitar, and precise percussion underscore but never underplay Glen Hansard's stripped-bare vocals and lyrics. Hansard asks, "So what happens when the heart just stops / Stops caring for anyone?" He answers, "The hollow in your chest dries up / And you stop believing," a response dispelled as too facile by subsequent tracks. "Headlong" and "Santa Maria" nosedive into torment while "Early Bird," "Fighting on the Stairs," and "Friends and Foe" pull out. You're left in the middle of a swirl of conflicted emotions. What's remarkable is that For the Birds, rife with mental rifts and ditches, somehow convinces you that you want to stay there."

Cintra Pollack

 

Eclectic Honey - "Breadcrumb Trail"

"A Frames Live album has always been a mouth-watering prospect. A couple of years ago, it would have been more than likely an Ireland only release with a few thousand copies sold to an enlightened few - the people who filled Whelan's for those magic three hour long sets and nights that kept on going and going, encore after encore.

Well now it has finally arrived, and far from being an Ireland only release, instead it has been created for Eastern Europe with a few precious copies available here. Containing ten songs culled from the band's recent January appearance in the Czech Republic, it has all the trademarks of a Frames live set, the same passion, emotion, energy and captivating sparks, only the stories are different. Anecdotes, jokes, explanations and memories act as a warming prelude to almost every song, from the Egon Schiele tribute of Santa Maria to the dedication to 'the man that stands on the bridge' before Rent Day Blues.

What Happens When the Heart Just Stops sounds as beautifully tragic as ever, if not more so, while a nine minute plus version of Fitzcarraldo complete with two violins is possibly the most beautiful live performance ever. Santa Maria brews into a tornado of guitar before melting into an extended delicate finish, while Red Chord is laced with Jeff Buckley's Last Goodbye.

Old favourites dashed with new medleys, album versions given new life on stage, and cover versions given The Frames treatment all combine to produce something very special. While it may not be the same as standing in awe in a packed Vicar Street in front of one of the greatest live bands, Breadcrumb Trail is the next best thing and one which you shouldn't let pass you by.

Michelle Dalton

 

All Music Guide - The Frames "Breadcrumb Trail"  2002

"The Frames were supposed to make their first trip to America following the release of For the Birds in 2001, but their plans had to be cancelled after their ten-year lead guitarist called it quits. With Simon Good on board, they first toured Central Europe in the winter of 2002 before crossing the Atlantic. Breadcrumb Trail documents a concert in Brno, Czech Republic, in front of an enthusiastic audience. Understandably, the set list included many selections from For the Birds, including the atmospheric rocker "Santa Maria," where Good shines. This song's power was only hinted at in the studio version. Glen Hansard and consorts also revisit a few key tracks from their previous albums, including the gripping "Fitzcarraldo," the show's other highlight. Softer numbers also work well, "Lay Me Down" and "New Partner" being the most effective. For "Fitzcarraldo," "Ohio Riverboat Song" (a traditional folk song), and "Red Chord," Czech violinist Jan Hruby joins in, trading solos with the Frames' Colm Mac Con Iomaire. The concert took place in a relaxed atmosphere, and the CD conveys it very well, although it means the listener has to suffer through Hansard's unfocused presentations. The album concludes with new scaled-down studio recordings of "Look Back Now" and "Star Star," a charming way to say goodbye. Breadcrumb Trail is a strong live album, the group's first and therefore a welcome addition to their discography. It taps into the essence of the Frames' folk-rock, more than any studio producer could do."

François Couture, Rovi

 

BaBuzz - The Frames "For The Birds"  July 2002

"The Dublin-based group's fourth and latest album has been obsessing millions of fans overseas since early last year. Produced by Steve Albini (Nirvana, Low, John Spencer Blues Explosion), the album even garnered kudos from Brain Eno, who claimed The Frames performed the best show he'd seen in five years. 'For The Birds' copens like a quiet sunrise fading into a variety of rhytm-driven, Irish folk-flavored tunes that begin with a frail whisper and build into a raging My Bloody Valentine-like storm, usually after frontman Glen Hansard turns his insides out Thom Yorke style. Although the album suffters occassionally from ill-fitting warbles and effects that obscure the brilliance of the songwriting and Hansard's touching vocal work, it's still one of the most overlooked album of 2001 in the US."

Delphine Hwang

 

Overcoat Recordings - "For The Birds"

The Frames
For The Birds

Call it the miracle of evolution if you want. By accident or design, The Frames have always done what they wanted, and for every time one thing went right, three things went wrong.

Formed 1991 in Dublin, Ireland by Glen Hansard, the band managed to make a name for itself throughout Europe in the 90's with their powerful live shows and the release of a handful of records on Island and ZTT. However apathetic these labels were to their success or failures in the states, The Frames managed to tour the US a handful of times over the years, mostly on the East Coast. These tours proved fruitful as the crowds grew even though the band's records were widely unavailable in the U.S. Not surprising, with their latest release, For The Birds, many here will be hearing The Frames for the first time.

The Frames first record, Another Love Song was released in 1992 on Island Records and brought instant gratification, which came at a price. The labels initial enthusiasm waned as another Irish act (The Cranberries)-signed at the same time as The Frames- began making waves. The Frames became a classic victim of the major label machinery but refused to be dissuaded by the apathy from their label and persevered-becoming one of the most talked-about live draws in Europe. Then just as easily as they were signed they were let go in the great Island housecleaning of the 90s (which could count Tom Waits amongst its casualties). Band and record company parted ways.

Nevertheless, The Frames marched on and were rapidly maturing, writing songs like "Fitzcarrado" and "Revelate", which are still staples in their live shows. They began working on Fitzcarraldo, their second record with Pete Briquette (Boomtown Rats, Tricky) and when finished signed with ZTT.Ê Fitzcarraldo was released in 1994, and marked the bands first foray into America with a number of dates along the East Coast. But their tendency for tragic relations again began to manifest itself. In Ireland and throughout Europe the bands' profile growing, but ZTT failed to capitalize on The Framesâ potential in the U.S.Ê Fitzcarraldo was virtually non-existent in the American market. However, one person in particular did manage to not only find a copy, but became one of the band's biggest fans, Steve Albini. Steve expressed a desire to work with the band, and although the collaboration never came to anything at the time, their paths would cross some six years later.

Once again the band traversed on without the support of a label and maintained a rigorous schedule of touring Ireland, Europe and select dates in the US. Like their previous record, much of the touring was done independent of the label's help and was financed by the band's hometown gigs and other work efforts. This spirit shown through, perhaps most evidently, with the band's next record Dance The Devil. With Dance The Devil the band approached the studio with a looser outlook musically, but with no less an incendiary collective of songs. Dance The Devil was at once emotionally direct and sonically skewed, and it managed to harness the acclaimed kinetic energy of their live shows. Well received throughout Europe, it unfortunately met the same fate as Fitzcarraldo in the states and went unnoticed. Again, the band parted company with their record label, and decided to go at it on their own.

The initial sessions of For The Birds began in Ireland in a country house in Kerry around the Spring of 2000. "It was the first record that we sat down and really talked about," frontman Glen Hansard explains. "We decided to go make it in two weeks in a house, lash out all these songs that didn't get recorded on our last record." For those two weeks in Kerry the band enlisted the production skills of old friend and ex-dEUS man Craig Ward. Glen continues, "It was also the first album we recorded while writing, because we were tired of songs being played and played live, and by the time we got to record them, they were dead. It was basically just an honest recording of where we were right then, not tailor-made for anybody but ourselves." Craig helped get the band started on a journey, which would see The Frames produce their finest work yet.

In fall of 2000, the band traveled to Chicago to finally work with recording engineer Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana, Bush) and the two camps instantly hit it off. "The guy's the only real socialist I've ever met in music," Glen enthuses. "Steve's a complete engineer; he doesn't produce. The idea of a producer is to make something easier to listen to, and Steve is opposite, he's like, 'Fuck the timing or tuning, it's great.' He's very honest, and he's a hardcore man, the only person I've come across in music ever who's been straight with us and not pulled any punches. He's a thinker, and if he wasn't a recording engineer he'd have to be a writer or some kind of philosopher, because he's just constantly talking about the idea of art."

For The Birds bears witness to the band's coming of age as an instinctive and integrated playing ensemble, working in service of Glen Hansard's open-heart-surgery songwriting. Veering from the warm melancholia of a Will Oldham or Nick Cave ("Lay Me Down", "When The Heart Just Stops"), to the inspired avant-guitarde of acts like Grandaddy and Mercury Rev ("Early Bird") For The Birds never loses sight of it's original intent, being a Frames record. Even when the band stretches out with an almost Americana feel ("Mighty Sword") or displays a fractious-type dynamic ("Santa Maria") they manage to remain true to themselves meshing styles and genres seamlessly. The new music is conceived of timeless elements, distinguished by Hansard's bare-all vocals, Dave Odlum's low-lying guitar, Colm Mac An Iomaire's grainy violin and the subtlest of all rhythm sections.

Whether or not the listener is familiar with The Frames' music or story, For The Birds is either a glorious place to start or pick up where he/she left off, it really doesn't matter. The Frames will be touring this fall and Glen will be over for a series of solo shows throughout the rest of the year.

OC11 - For The Birds

 

Pitchfork Media - "For The Birds"  January 30 2002

The Frames
For The Birds
[Plateau/Overcoat; 2001]
Rating: 7.5

When I hear the name Steve Albini, I tend to think of a certain sound. Namely raw, primal rock. Rapeman, Big Black, Shellac, Nirvana's In Utero, the Pixies-- the man's name is practically synonymous with music that takes no prisoners. His dry, treble-heavy sound has graced literally hundreds of albums over the past decade-and-a-half, and his style has become so developed that a lot of people can listen to an album and tell that he recorded it.

Considering all this, you can imagine how shocked I was to open the liner notes of the Frames' fourth album and see his name in there. For the most part, For the Birds is just about the antithesis of what we've come to expect from Albini: gentle, hushed folk-inspired rock that only occasionally rises to a shout. As it turns out, Albini only helped record a few songs for the Irish quintet, and though it's never specified which ones, it's easy to guess. The rest of the album was produced by the band with the guiding hand of dEUS's Craig Ward, who seems nearly as unlikely a candidate.

For the Birds opens with a plaintive, soothing instrumental aptly titled "In the Deep Shade." Guitar harmonics, brushed drums, violin and a smattering of piano eddy about calmly, sometimes moving forward rhythmically for a bar or two, but never truly settling into a prolonged groove of any kind. It's little short of the perfect set-up for an album that abounds in pleasantly atmospheric, but rarely uninteresting, music, broken by the occasional foray into noise-drenched slow rock.

"Lay Me Down" follows, riding a constant, choppy beat and lightly picked acoustic guitars. Glen Hansard's vocal melody is syncopated in such a way that it sounds at first like he's singing out of time. Once you get used to his phrasing, though, the melody takes hold easily, contrasted by slow, droning violin interjections between verses. Hansard's understated delivery also works nicely for "What Happens When the Heart Just Stops," the quiet ballad that follows. Subtle electronics weave their way through the mix, gradually becoming denser as the song swells to its dramatic climax, complete with a fine, Left Banke-ish horn section.

Though most of the album keeps the tempo held way back, a few songs manage to inject a faster beat, and nearly always to positive effect. Most notable is "Fighting on the Stairs," which is the most obvious candidate for a single. Programmed drums lay down an almost danceable groove for an otherwise mostly acoustic song, making for a nice blend of textures. Banjo and vibes fill in the corners of the song, leaving room for some sort of oscillating synthesizer and closely harmonized vocals.

Three of these songs bear the obvious mark of Albini, each in the form of harshly noisy guitar passages. The band handles noise best on "Headlong" by balancing it with resolutely melodic violin and lead guitar parts, which isn't to speak of the way they easily morph the gentle chorus refrain into an aching plea for help in the raging bridge. The noisy passage that closes "Santa Maria," however, is fairly shapeless, and actually detracts from an otherwise passable song.

The guitars are similarly molten on "Early Bird," though the vocal melody greatly overpowers them in the mix. The song quiets in the middle to allow the sinewy violin line to come to the fore, but is quickly swallowed again by restrained feedback and gritty guitar work. Its duration is cut short by an uncharacteristic moment of tape manipulation, which segues surprisingly well into "Friends and Foe," which is perhaps the most subdued song here. Subtle tremolo picking in the background, understated splashes from a keyboard and soft strumming are all Hansard has for accompaniment during the ultra-quiet verses. A surprisingly Dirty Three-like violin and guitar section actually brightens the song considerably in the middle.

"Disappointed" takes the title of most lo-fi song on the album, as Hansard sounds like he's phoning in his performance from another town. That's not to say his delivery isn't as passionate as usual, though, and his lyrics seem to sum up the general feel of the whole album with their refrain of "I'm not mad/ I'm just disappointed." Comparatively, closer "Mighty Sword" is upbeat at its tempo of roughly 60 beats per minute. The song picks up for its coda, breaking into a steady waltz beneath cleanly strummed guitars and Theremin.

The Frames have created a unique and enjoyable album with For the Birds, one that leans decidedly away from the pop spectrum, but never sacrifices accessibility. Perhaps the album's single greatest flaw is that the band have chosen to concentrate almost too much on the slow and sparse, but they do it well enough that it's hard to complain too much. When all's said and done, For the Birds is really for just about anyone.

Joe Tangari

 

Rolling Stone - "For The Birds"  November 19 2001

The Frames
For The Birds (Overcoat)

"I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed," sings Frames frontman Glen Hansard as his band's fourth album winds toward a close. The words could easily describe the Dublin, Ireland outfit's history, a decade-long chronicle of label woes and records that were just short of what they could've been. But they've come out on the other side better for it. Co-produced by Steve Albini, For the Birds is a literate, delicate and passionate record that sways with the sort of majestic weariness embedded in the Dirty Three's best work. It's a far cry from the Pixies-inflected rock the band was playing ten years ago, but their evolution has been gradual and organic. Typical of the results is "What Happens When the Heart Just Stops," which opens as a whisper but gradually works itself to a fever pitch, as a transcendent mess of horns, guitars and strings embolden Hansard's cries of the album's apparent mantra, "I'm disappointed." He shouldn't be.

DAVID PEISNER

 

Sorted Magazine - Glen Hansard, Belfast

Auntie Annies, Belfast, January 28 2003

Having seen Mark Geary in the same venue almost a year ago, I was not expecting much. That gig did not overly impress me. I found his songs to be laborious and frankly quite dull. And so I was very pleasantly surprised by tonight's performance. He seems to have harvested a lot of his songs, cutting away the chaff and keeping the tunes shorter and more pronounced. I would be very interested in seeing him live again soon and will get the opportunity when he headlines Auntie Annie's next month.

This is the fifth time I have seen Glen Hansard live in the past 12 months (both as a solo artist and in The Frames). I have always come away impressed with both his songs and the entertainment value of the shows, and tonight was no exception. A rapturous welcome to the stage was greeted by a trademark smile from Glen, before he picked up the same battered guitar he has been playing for years and launched into his set.

The one thing that did stand out from tonight was that it seemed to be more musically-orientated than the usual story session Glen launches into at most gigs. That is not to say he did not talk - he joked around, explained the meaning behind some tunes etc - but this time a lot more music was played. Perhaps he has been listening to some of the light-hearted criticism about his gigs, becoming slightly embarrassing with the crowd hanging onto every word.

'What happens when the heart just stops?' is truly a touching masterpiece. It really takes a gig like this to realise just how many classic tunes The Frames have. From 'Red chord' to 'Lay me down', they are all played here and sound more exceptional in such a secluded live environment than on CD. As Glen himself stated, tonight's gig was used as a testing ground for the seemingly vast collection of new songs waiting to be recorded. Even on first impression, they all seemed very promising and, although it was difficult to tell just from one listen, they did appear to be of a more simple formula, almost resembling The Beatles at times.

I came away from this gig with one question on my mind - does Glen Hansard really need the Frames as a vehicle for his music or would he be best solo? From tonight's performance, I would go with the former. Although I said the same thing last year, I will repeat it again - see him live in a small venue while you still can.

Graham Smith

 

musicomh.com - The Frames live in Belfast

The Frames @ Elmwood Hall, Belfast, 10 November 2002

This was to be an evening that was about more than just the headline act.

On only their third gig, local newbies Whats The Fusz? were given the honour of opening this Queens Festival event. Considering this was an all seated concert and nobody knew much about them, they coped well.

Memories of early Therapy? and defunct Portadown rockers Joyrider sprang to mind. The songs were structured well but by the fourth song, they began to grow a little tedious. They were very tight, with the drumming providing an arousing backbone to each song.

They looked surprisingly relaxed and nonchalant and by the end of their set, and while nobody was particularly blown away, there was a certain sense of pride that the local band had put on a decent show. Given time and plenty more garage practice sessions, they may move up the scale.

Turn have been gigging furiously around Ireland and the UK for years but the success that a lot of people said they deserved has so far eluded them. I had seem them several years ago and have to admit I spent more time watching the rather attractive female security guard than the band.

Tonight totally changed my opinion of the Irish rockers. They just seemed to gel so well together. Bassist Gavin, threw some great rock poses and facial expressions that would put Flea to shame (almost). Ollie played the role of darkly sarcastic but inescapably charming frontman. From the opening chord of each song, he played like his life depended on it. Pummelling the guitar and almost yelping out the heartfelt (but slightly insipid) lyrics. After tonight’s gig, I got the feeling that it was only a matter of time before the Feeder fans catch on and Turn will be catapulted to the success they do deserve.

And so to the band that can do no wrong. The Frames slow rise has been charted extensively. They are manically applauded to the stage. Glen is his usual grinning, effusive, and if I dare say it, cuddly self. Like the best mate you always wanted to have, he charms the crowd with his tales, the crowd hanging on to this every breath never mind his every word.

They seem to effortlessly glide through their set. Nothing seems to phase them. Any technical hitches are dealt with a joke, a smile and the show goes on. The passionate loud tunes “God Bless Mom”, “Pavement Tune” and in particular “Revelate” get the hearts beats racing and the feet thumping. The way they can glide from convulsing rock songs to heart wrenching compositions is something that a lot of bands admire.

The eerie silence that falls on the packed hall during “Headlong”, the placidity during “When The Heart Just Stops” and the respect shown during “Star Star” (which as always is moulded with a cover of “Two Little Boys”) seems to affect everyone.

New songs “People Get Ready” and in particular “Blood”, conjure up great hopes for the next album. The album that will, more then likely, see them rise to meteoric fame. It almost gets too emotional and slightly embarrassing as the crowd worship at the Frames altar. But that’s fine for now. Let’s just enjoy it. When they become as big as Coldplay (and they will), all of us cool music fans will, naturally, have to despise them. So for now, let’s just be safe and cosy in the knowledge that they belong to us and only us. We can mock them later.

Graham Smith

 

The Age, Australia - "Misery Celts"  October 25 2002

Dark, moody and Celtic, the Frames are cornering the market with their "indie angst", writes Richard Jinman.

Sometimes, too much catharsis is barely enough. But where do you go when you've grown weary of Hank Williams, Robert Johnson is sounding too upbeat and Leonard Cohen just isn't bleak enough?

Can I suggest For the Birds, the excellent latest album by Irish quartet the Frames? If you like your rock darker than a peat bog and moodier than the moodiest member of the Moody Blues, this one's for you.

Take this doleful extract from the song Lay Me Down. As the banjos and mandolins cluck in the background, vocalist and chief songwriter Glen Hansard sings: "And if you wanna stay with me/Then let me know before it's light/I will recoil myself/Into the black and darkest night."

Grim, eh?

Actually, that's breezy compared with the next song, What Happens When the Heart Just Stops, a sadathon of epic proportions. Sample lyric: "So what happens when the heart just stops/Stops caring for anyone/The hollow in your chest dries up/And you stop believing."

And let's not even talk about the album's finest moment, Disappointed.

Hansard delivers these sad missives in a voice that's as robust as tissue paper, as bruised as toddler's knee. Not to be outdone, his band kick in with a suitably tortured barrage of guitars, percussion and what may be an angle grinder (more on the album's fascinating sonic qualities later). It's the kind of moody, mercurial dynamic that has earned the Frames comparisons with everyone from Coldplay and Mogwai to Red House Painters and Dirty Three.

But what could have inspired such dejection, such weariness?

Sadly, I don't get to find out. When I dial Hansard's number for our scheduled chat, it's the band's violin player, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, who answers.

"I'm going to be talking to you," he says in a disappointingly cheerful Irish brogue.

As a result, I learn little about Hansard's tortured muse, his admiration for Van Morrison or his brief flirtation with acting (he played guitarist Outspan Foster in Alan Parker's 1991 hit film, The Commitments).

I do, however, learn a great deal about the Baltimore seafood restaurant where the Frames are - as we speak - involved in some kind of vendetta against crustaceans. "There's exploding crabs everywhere," says Iomaire cheerfully.

For The Birds is the Frames' fourth album. They formed in 1990 after Hansard's demo tape scored him a deal with Island Records. He recruited some mates from the Dublin music scene to back him and over the next 10 years they established a solid following in Ireland. The band toured extensively in Europe and America, but made little commercial impact outside the Emerald Isle.

They also endured the debilitating line-up changes, management shuffles and record company dismissals that dog most long-lived bands. Iomaire admits 10 years of almost making it took its toll.

"We were all 18 or 19 when we started. We were like lambs to the slaughter," he says. "Now we're hardened, um ... unprofessionals."

After parting ways with Island in the early '90s, the Frames signed to ZTT, a label founded by producer Trevor Horn, of Buggles fame. That deal was terminated two years ago.

"We were tied into working with Trevor, and it was monopolistic," says Iomaire of the deal that yielded the albums Fitzcarraldo (1996) and Dance The Devil (1999). "Coming out of that experience, we wanted to take a left turn. If it hadn't been for ZTT, in fact, it wouldn't have been as drastic - we were willing to lose half of our following."

Most of the songs on the new album were produced by Craig Ward, a former member of critically revered Belgian "avant grunge" group dEUS. But it's indicative of the band's readiness for a left turn that Hansard also worked with notorious American producer Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana). Chicago-based Albini is a true maverick; a man whose reputation for capturing intense, raw and gritty sounds is matched by his reputation as an arrogant, scary dude.

Iomaire insists the bad reputation is undeserved.

"He's (Albini) great, and it was one of our most enjoyable sessions," he says. "Steve is much maligned, but he's an idealist - and that's a rare thing in the music business."

The results speak for themselves. For the Birds is a compelling album that manages to meld a gentle Celtic folk sensibility with distorted guitars and fragments of dirty industrial noise. It's ethereal one minute, truly malevolent the next.

And yes, it's mostly sad.

Iomaire has his own theory about the pervading darkness.

"It's the cumulative effect of being disillusioned," he says. "When you hit your 30's the shine comes off a few things, you know."

The Frames play at the Corner Hotel, Richmond, tonight. For the Birds is out on Little Big Music.

 

The Metro, Sydney - October 25 2002

Some bands attract galahs and mating cats, and others just naturally attract audiences that can sing. For an encore The Frames' Glen Hansard returned to the stage alone and told us he was going to play a new song, The Blood, and that we could help. He sang a wordless, syncopated little melody once, and the audience immediately had it nailed to the floor. At a stroke it lifted the song, and also confirmed the old adage about people going into a performance as individuals, and coming out unified.

The singing was there throughout. To come to Sydney from Ireland for the first time and find that you not only have fans, but that they know the words and can hold a tune, must have been extremely gratifying.

From The Frames' albums it was obvious that Hansard was a darkly emotive songwriter. The added dimension live was his affability. This was of more relevance than there just being a likeable bloke clowning and entertaining: it subtly shifted the mood of some songs. Rather than being an exercise in gloom-revelling, they became the musings of a knockabout lad being serious for a moment, and were all the more poignant for it.

Many of the songs had dramatic dynamic changes built in, the soft parts exposing the inherent and appealing fragility of Hansard's voice, before the band crashed in with waves of exultant energy. If The Frames' musical language is primarily indie-pop (traceable back to the Velvet Underground), it is also unmistakably Irish. Hansard writes laments, but breaks them up with pumping mid-tempo rock rather than reels.

John Shand

 

"Kicking Against" - Independent Records  July 5 2002

Perhaps for the first time in our erratic history we can safely say that Ireland's independent music scene is ready to take on the world, ready to go pop. We're bursting at the seams right now with all sorts of goodies - electronica, hip-hop, electro, rock, instrumental music, Americana and lush pop sounds, not to mention a wave of righteous music video animation.

Kicking Against… is a pretty lucid snapshot of what's going on right now. All these acts hail from an independent infrastructure. Some of them have already gone beyond that. Some of them are destined to make important records. All of them are making fresh and uncompromised music that the world outside our vibrant little needs to hear.

David Kitt is currently weaving his magic on tour all over Europe. He followed up his Rough Trade mini-album Small Moments with one of the most fully conceived albums ever recorded in this country - The Big Romance. He stepped into the big, bad corporate world, and so far he's still smiling. Here we've included one of the singles that's already sent him on the way to becoming a platinum selling artist in Ireland, "You Know What I Want To Know". Plus, we've an exclusive demo version of album track "Whispers Return to the Sun". Kitt's success is undoubtedly an inspiration to many of the other artists included on Kicking Against…

The Frames are nothing short of national heroes. Having been 'round the block and tossed back and forth by the corporate system they came back fighting with last year's Steve Albini produced album For The Birds, unveiling a fresh new sound and a fresh new outlook. It is but a matter of time before their spellbinding ways stretch across the planet. Check out the For The Birds album track "Fighting on the Stairs" and the exclusive "Tomorrow's Too Long", which was recorded during their Steve Albini sessions in Chicago.

Definitely one of the most telling signs of changing times in Ireland is the unstoppable momentum of The Redneck Manifesto from Dublin. Across their first two albums Thirtysix Strings and Cut Your Heart Off From Your Head they rock hard with tense nervous energy and intelligent, poignant and intricate musicianship. Their live shows are unmatched for sheer hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck excitement and they come across as the most visual and physical live instrumental act we've ever seen. Meanwhile, Rednex bassist Richie Egan forging his own way as Jape, songs about girls and computer games that take the form of beautifully imperfect and pastoral electronic pop music.

Decal have long since been setting the standards for electronic produced music in Ireland. From their dancefloor destroying electro charges to the heaving melody-driven serenity of their latest album 404 Not Found, Denis and Alan are amongst the most accomplished producers around. On the 404 Not Found track we've included here you'll hear the voice of one Alan Kelly, who is featured elsewhere on Kicking Against… as The Last Post. Featuring guest contributions from David Kitt and Diarmuid Mac Dermada from The Jimmy Cake and the David Kitt live band, we've got a sneak preview of Alan's forthcoming second album on Bright Star Recordings, Dry Land. His debut album from 2000, Love Lost, was a gorgeous excavation of brilliantly produced harmony pop music that would leave fans of Brian Wilson, Gram Parsons or Phil Spector gasping for air. His new album is even better again.

The Jimmy Cake are another elevating ensemble of musicians. Up to ten members at the last count, their largely instrumental music spars staple rock instruments with brass, accordion, unusual percussion and all manner of musical oddity. We've included a track here from their debut album Brains, which is quite a unique and lovely exercise in assimilating so many worldly music styles into one big uplifting whole. We highly recommend you go see them live immediately. Same goes for Goodtime John, who has been adding new members to his ranks with every gig. This is a band based on the songs of Goodtime John himself and featuring members of The Redneck Manifesto, Connect4Orchestra and the Coldspoon Conspiracy. His debut album Brought Four Ways Out of Town, recently released on Volta Sounds, is a soul-searching trip through American folk and country moods, which he brings to life as a rich revue for his live shows.

Also from the Volta Sounds stable is one of our most exhilarating new forces, Creative Controle. This is Irish hip-hop minus the paddy-whackery and featuring the breathless rhyme style of emcee Messiah J and the tight beats and heightened orchestration of producer The Expert. "Bloodrush" is their single, a swooping orchestral smack in the gob that a five star review from Muzik magazine and prompted DJ mag to describe it as "Truly great hip-hop." Completing the musical line-up on Kicking Against… is the utterly insane stigmata-macarena-pop insanity of the Warlords of Pez and their cult classic "Padre Pio". But that's not all, for we couldn't offer you a proper overview of what's happening without showcasing the visual genius of animation and design trio D.A.D.D.Y. So we've made space for their awesome animation video pieces to accompany Creative Controle's "Bloodrush" and the Warlords' "Padre Pio". So feast your eyes on this and wrap your ears around the whole Kicking Against… banquet.

The future sound of Ireland never sounded so good.

 

Eclectic Honey "Headlong"

HEADLONG
THE FRAMES

This release is centred around one of the highlights from The Frames' album For The Birds. While on the album version it is very much characterised by a long tense holding-back and subsequent release, these elements are missing on the EP version which shows a much more subtle and quietly crafted slice of folk rock. Initially, the frenetic energy of the original version seems to be missing, but after a few listens it develops a life all of its own and takes flight after about 3 minutes when Glen's voice delicately soars.

Backed by Frames favourite God Bless Mom, the version here is poles apart from its Dance the Devil counterpart, instead paying more homage to the truly outstanding I am the Magic Hand leading track, while the live version is added into the mix. A kind of hybrid of all three prevails to create something really special. The band's take on Palace's New Partner previously received an outing on a split 7" with Calexico, and bass player Joe Doyle takes a turn on lead vocals for the second verse. Closing track Listen Girl, a cover of the Mic Christopher song, almost shines brightest however with Glen's beautifully moving vocals lending voice to a wealth of emotions. Backed up by Maureen Christopher, Alice Jago and Ann Scott, you can almost hear Mic's spirit singing along in the background.

 

Eclectic Honey "Lay Me Down"

LAY ME DOWN
THE FRAMES

Lay me Down makes its mark as the first single to be taken from For the Birds, the Frames' now gold-status album, and offers us a fine cut of new-country blended folksiness. Representative of For the Birds, it basks in it's melancholy edged wilderness, yet still envelops the listener's soul with its intimate, warm and ultimately uplifting message. With a dance-ability factor of 200%, there isn't a soul left still when the Frames launch into this much-loved live staple.

Two equally beguiling tracks keep Lay me Down company, with Rise out-shadowing Tomorrow's too Long slightly with its eerie isolated charm. It's one of those magical Frames moments that sounds like Glen is singing in the same room as you- his voice tenderly dominating the beautifully subtle guitar. A classic Frames moment that's worthy of a tag superior to b-side and it could have easily been at home on For The Birds.

Possibly the best moment though is a non-musical entity; a video from last year's groundbreaking and heartbreakingly great Brittness. If ever anyone doubted that this is a band who love their fans, and who are deeply loved in return, this beautifully shot performance of Plateau will make up your mind. Now everyone can witness/witnness one of the best live bands in the world. See you down the front….

 

Hot Press - "Collaborations"  June 2002

The end result is an album that is a music collector's wet dream, with enough mouth-watering partnerships to keep most music fans happy.

It says Collaborations on the CD case and collaborations are exactly what you get inside, as some of the finest Irish independent artists from the rock spectrum team up with their dance contemporaries. The end result is an album that is a music collector’s wet dream, with enough mouth-watering partnerships to keep most music fans happy.

‘Cabassa’, by Glen Hansard and Deacy, is one of the more unusual offerings, the Frames man sounding uncharacteristically muted over a slow, hypnotic backbeat that’s been singed by the swirls of the middle-east: the ultimate slow-mover, this one takes a while to work its willowy charms on your ears.

John Walshe

 

Western People - "Inundations"  May 28 2002

As a broadcaster, Jon Richards has been one of the outstanding crusaders for live music in Ireland in recent years. The Galway Bay FM presenter has recorded many famous sessions for his regular radio show, and now takes some of that material to a wider audience with the release of the double album "InunDations".

This showcase of live performances, recorded in Studio 2 at the Galway City station, is released on this Friday, with all proceeds going to The Samaritans.

Recorded over the past twelve months as part of his in-studio sessions, "InunDations" features tracks from some of the biggest names in music from both at home and abroad.

The impressive line up reads like a who's who of Irish music today and includes Mundy, Damien Rice, The Frames, Hothouse Flowers, The Devlins, Skindive, Juliet Turner, Relish, The 4 of Us, Jack L, The Saw Doctors, Mary Black, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Eleanor McEvoy, Don Baker, Gemma Hayes, Cara Dillon and The Revs.

Internationally renowned artistes from abroad also feature including a fine moment from Ron Sexsmith, and a reworking of "Brand New Friend" from Lloyd Cole.

There are also mind-bending performances from guitarist Pierre Bensusan and Idaho born Josh Ritter. Up and coming stars like powerful blues artiste Chaz De Paulo, the hypnotic, compelling voice of Charis' John Connolly and the vastly underrated Brando fly the flag for new artists.

All of the featured tracks were recorded by Richards and are just a snapshot of the treasure trove of original music that Galway Bay FM has had the pleasure of broadcasting over the past year.

The double album contains 37 tracks for the special price of just €20, with all proceeds going to The Samaritans.

It is also being released in DVD style casing and is sure to rapidly become a collector's item.

Album sponsors include Zhivago, Cuba, The Warwick, Hot Press, IMRO and Galway Bay FM, who all rallied behind this very worthy charity.

 

Hot Press -The Frames & Friends, Green Energy Festival

Dublin Castle, May 29 2002

What on paper could have a some sort of post-modern Raggle TaggleFest 2002, turned out to be one of the most moving celebrations of friendship and music this city has ever seen.

As the Bank Holiday protest erupted into the full swing of a truncheon, a (slightly) more sedate but equally as committed gathering thronged to the Castle to soak up the songs and bonhomie of Mundy, Bell X1, Damien Rice, late addition Paddy Casey and of course, the real stars of this Green Energy Festival and everyone’s favourite explosively emotive troubadours, The Frames. What on paper could have a some sort of post-modern Raggle TaggleFest 2002, turned out to be one of the most moving celebrations of friendship and music this city has ever seen. Which is what we’ve come to expect from The Frames.

No other band in Ireland are quite simply this charged, effective and touching live, and at that, very few anywhere else. At times tonight, I’m reminded of Radiohead performing material from The Bends, as they share that rare and powerful gift of turning intensely personal emotion into collective cathartic euphoria. ‘Santa Maria’, the most distinctive and special track on For The Birds, spreads its cacophonous epiphany like the wings of a phoenix over the spirit of Egon Schielle. The angels are still circling overhead as ‘Star Star’ segues into Mic Christopher’s ‘Listen Girl’, climaxing in the rallying lovecry of ‘Heyday’. Super-8 footage of dear Mic, the man with the cap and a warm smile, intensifies the moment for his many friends and fans present. But tonight’s prevailing mood is as celebratory as it is mournful, as Dublin Castle salutes a hero’s spirit which is alive and well and radiant in every single smile and whoop for joy.

‘Debaser’ leads a quick rush of noisy encores with Joe Doyle doing a remarkable stand in job for Kim Deal. Mundy and Damien Rice join in for one last blast through an exquisite ‘Red Chord’ (with Glen’s little brother running off blushing!). We’re left delirious and reeling, amazed and beaming with pride at how magnificent they now are, and indeed, how earth-conqueringly brilliant they could become. For now, The Frames are among the most extraordinary live magicians alive.

Eamon Sweeney

 

SXSW 2002 - The Frames

Schuba’s Fifth Annual SXSW Roundup
The Yard Dog Gallery
March 14, 2002

From the moment I arrived at the party, this Dublin, Ireland power-pop collective had quite the buzz surrounding them. I was embarrassed to say that I knew nothing about them before the show, yet they were certainly the most pleasant surprise of the day.

Lead singer Glen Hansard had a versatile voice that could alternate between a husky bellow and a falsetto wail. Within the body of the tightly constructed rock songs, the band tucked snippets of other tunes ― kind of like live sampling ― including Kool and The Gang’s Celebrate and the children’s rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. The group has released four albums, yet only the latest two (For the Birds and the enjoyable Dance the Devil []) seem to be in print in the U.S. The highlight, however, was Beautiful Widow, a tune that appears on neither of the aforementioned discs. If you get a chance to see The Frames in concert, you won’t be disappointed.

 

All Music Guide "For The Birds"

For The Birds opens with "In the Deep Shade," an understated instrumental that sets the mood for the rest of the album. Despite some relatively peppy numbers such as "Fighting on the Stairs," the wailing guitar sound on songs such as "Early Bird" and "Santa Maria," and the expectations some listeners may have for an album recorded with Craig Ward (dEUS) and Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana, Rapeman), this is primarily a gentle, slow, and melancholic album. It features melodic, folk-influenced rock songs (somewhere in the general vicinity of Will Oldham and Nick Drake, for example) with clearly discernible instruments including mandolin, piano, violin, brushed drums, and softly strummed guitar, as well as vocals that manage to sound emotive even when they seem hushed. The band says in their liner notes that this was their first chance to record an album without having to "cater to people outside of the band"; consequently, For the Birds features less-commercial arrangements that allow the group to take a leisurely pace, use subtle dynamics and negative space, and gradually build emotional intensity over the course of a song instead of trying to hook listeners immediately. Of course, this is hardly the first band to try this type of approach, but Frames handle it gracefully.

Todd Kristel

 

CDNow.com "For The Birds"

The Frames
For The Birds
(Overcoat Recordings)
23 Oct 2001

For The Birds is the Dublin-based Frames' fourth and best album, incorporating the loosely-styled longings of Palace Brothers ("Lay Me Down"), the wandering minstrelsy of Richard Buckner ("What Happens When the Heart Just Stops") and the more psychedelic aspects of Mercury Rev ("Mighty Sword") without a stylistic hiccup.

Singer-songwriter Glen Hansard's pervasive sense of dissatisfaction anchors these songs to a beautifully somber shore, whether it's the lazy, loping "Disappointed," or the slightly higher octane "Fighting on the Stairs." A remarkable album from start to finish.

Rob O'Connor
CDNOW Contributing Writer

 

Hot Press "Lay Me Down"

The Frames
Lay Me Down
(Plateau)
02 Aug 2001

The Frames are a band who have virtually invented both a sound and a style which has influenced dozens of emerging Irish acts. From the Kittsers and Courtneys to the Hynes and Hayes, The Frames have shown the way in both a creative and tactical fashion. ‘Lay Me Down’ is a romantic and relaxed offering while ‘Tomorrow’s Too Long’ is a more low-key affair, minimal and contemplative – “Gather yourself for the ride/ Whatever you can’t carry, you should leave behind” – ‘Rise’ is more of the same, with Hansard’s whispered intimacy invariably providing solace and comfort to dozens of bedroom-broken hearts. This release also contains the ‘Plateau’ live video.

Stephen Robinson

 

Phantom Tollbooth "For The Birds"  May 19 2001

For The Birds
Artist: The Frames
Label: Plateau Records/2001
Length: 52 minutes

There are two phenomenons in the world of Glen Hansard and The Frames. The first is that they have never exploded into one of the most successful bands of the past ten years, and the second is that they have kept going even when all of their various record labels have failed to develop their great work into that of world domination.

So they deserve a Grammy for perseverance at the very least. Their fourth album, For the Birds, is a piece of total and utter beauty - and, within weeks of release, is their most successful album to date. Maybe, as it did with David Gray, their faith in their own music (or distaste in doing a real job!) will pay off and at last the world will open its ears to exceptional talent. Indeed, Gray may have been a bit of an influence in the sonic shift that is For the Birds. It sits on the same sound shelf as White Ladder. Although they have rejected the art in songwriting for a very long time, the Irish can be proud that they still believe in the poetry and melody of the song. That was what welcomed Gray in from the wilderness and gave him the oasis that would then make the country of his birth wake up to what they had missed. Gray in turn has birthed (or at least encouraged) a little underground Dublin scene that is beginning to pop its heads above the burrows and force the punters to listen; Paddy Casey, Juliet Turner, David Kitt, and the Frames are but a few.

If you were there when Hansard left his busking post on O’Connell Street to light up the stages of Dublin and London with his early 90’s Waterboys’ raggle taggle with a good dose of Pixies’ bite, then you might not even recognize the gentleness of this latest incarnation. The opener doesn’t hit you in the face or the grooves of your feet with anything like "The Dancer" did on Another Love Song. Here there is an instrumental with a piano that would not have been out of place on Morrison’s most healing work "Poetic Champions Compose," and the overall sound is mellow with a vulnerable vocal performance by Hansard. "Giving Me Wings", "What Happens When The Heart Stops," "Disappointed," and "Friends and Foes" are particularly fragile with the last of the three owning the most poignant of lamenting fiddles. Scrumptious. If that opening, "In the Deep Shade" indicates the healing has begun, then by the time you’ve gone through "Lay Me Down to Headlong" you are utterly changed and just basking in stripped-down lo-fi heaven. And that’s only four tracks in! On "Headlong" and elsewhere there may be builds and crescendos of a more amp filling kind but even here there are few rough and raucous edges just louder avenues of that same heaven.

I’ll be spending a lot of time around the gold paved sounds of For The Birds for a long time to come.

Steve Stockman

 

Free For All - The Frames: FOR THE BIRDS

"This might take a while to figure out, now... how a record like this actually works... seeping into the consciousness like a slow fever, the songs as familiar and yet unfeasibly slippery as the individual listener's intimate memories. 'For The Birds' is like a book of old photographs, where the images contained within are too personal to be opened in public. On first listen it sends out a fragile invitation. After a few listen-throughs, that fragility gives way to warm intrigue - the trumpeting majesty of 'So What Happens...' quieting to the lush, romantic sway of 'Headlong': climbing then to the great redeemer that is 'The Early Bird'. 'Santa Maria' canters into the fray with a deceptively easy dub-style bass-line, Hansard's vocal a heartscalding near-whisper 'why did you have to burn?' Deceptive because of the scarred metal coda -a chime of guitars that intuitively expresses the untimely denouement of its subject, the painter Egon Schiele, from Spanish Influenza in all its passion and pain; anguish and ecstasy - a precise enigma of a song."

"The last of these sentient snapshots, 'Mighty Sword', is the one that induces a proud smile and a teary swelling in the throat simultaneously. You know what I mean here because we all have (at least) one. A verse that speaks of emotional insecurities and perhaps even unspoken love, 'I may not know you for as long as forever exists', but then the countrified chorus, rolling out like something from the Stones - a courageously defiant declaration of intent - 'We wield a mighty sword'. An untitled 'hidden' track crashes back in after several minutes to close the album. And then, when the picture-book is closed and we are left a shadowy memory of the thing we can be grateful for the chance to hold it dear, to be re-opened from time to time. Perhaps we'll even pass it on to our grandchildren."

Carol Keogh

 

witnness.com - Witnness Rising 10.30pm

The moment indie-rock became stadium rock... Already famed for giving good live performances, tonight The Frames have decided to step things up a notch. Throwing rock star shapes and leaping about the stage like he's got giant, extra-itchy ants in his pants, Glen Hansard is the perfect festival frontman. Even alarmingly placid bass player Joe Doyle comes over all rock-beast, with a pogoing frenzy during 'Stars Are Underground'. But it's not just the band who are whipped into a tizzy, the audience are a gidd, sticky mass - singing along like lovable football fans and inspiring the band to stop mid-'Monuement' and take a photo to bring home to their Mams. Topped off with guest turns from Paddy Casey, Mundy and Mike Scott, this was easily enough to make us all forget about our developing trench foot.

Biography

No strangers to Irish audiences, this long-standing five-piece are currently enjoying their most substantial success to date with a recording that many believe to be the album of their career. 'For The Birds' was made with underground production master Steve Albini and has already achieved Gold status in Ireland.

 

Where's The Craic - Witnness 2001

The rain returned intermittently as the day drew to a close. The Stereophonics showed up on the main stage and played their set seamlessly churning out hit after hit to a rapturous crowd. I wandered off to the "Rising" tent to see how the godfather of contemporary Irish indie music Glen Hansard was doing with the Frames. Not surprisingly the tent was bursting at the seems with the raging sounds of popular Frames tunes. The icing on the cake however came as Mike Scott and Steve Wickham joined Glen on stage for a rendition of The Waterboys' 'Be My Enemy'. The Frames ended the evening with 'Red Chord' in the Rising Tent as Faithless pelted out monotone after monotone on the main stage as revellers slipped off into the mud soaked dark night.

James Malone

 

Where's The Craic - Glen Hansard supporting Bob Dylan

"...The Alice Band were next and suffered from the cold rain and an unfamiliar crowd. Glen Hansard then single-handedly managed to rock the park with just an acoustic guitar. If you've ever seen this guy solo before you'll know how much power he's capable of producing."

Pius Meagher

 

Where's The Craic - The Frames at Vicar Street

There are many ways to spend your bank holiday weekend in Ireland, one of them would be to visit Kilkenny for the excellent Comedy festival. Another would be to head for cork and the Heineken weekender. There is always the old reliable (?) nightclub scene in Dublin. However I choose to see The Frames @ Vicar Street. They say hindsight is a great thing but let me tell you that this was a very wise decision as this was one of the best gigs I’ve seen in a long while.

The Frames are one of the best bands to come out of Dublin in Recent times, and their last 2 albums have been superb, but they are an entirely different prospect live, they just seem to take things to a different level. And it seems that a venue like Vicar Street was designed with this band in mind.

The evening started off with Josh Ritter who is certainly extremely popular with the frames audience. Every song was cheered ecstatically, and a magnificent set was rounded off with a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel”.

Next up were Label who were also well received. They were much more rock oriented than Josh Ritter and created the perfect atmosphere among the 1,000 strong crowd.

By the time The Frames took to the stage the place was really buzzing and the fans were really expecting something special, they were not disappointed.

All the classics were delivered opening with “Plateau” and “Perfect Opening Line”. Fans were treated to songs from the new album such as “What happens when the heart just stops” and “Santa Maria” as well as all the old classics we’ve come to expect such as “star star” which included the obligatory “Two Little Boys” sing along.

What made this gig extra special was that in between songs the lead singer Glen Hansard would just start telling these wonderful stories which were actually very funny and showed a side to the band that just doesn’t come across on CD.

This gig marked the 11th Birthday of the frames and this was marked by the impromptu “Happy Birthday” which added a sense of occasion to the proceedings.

We were also treated to an excellent cover version of the Pixies “Gigantic” as well as a “tribute” to AC/DC.

The Frames are unique in that they seem to invite bands up on stage just at the climax of their show, this time it was the turn of Dublin band Sack, who did quite well.

Then the Frames returned for the finale which involved a large chunk of the audience as well as Josh Ritter were welcomed on stage for a stirring rendition of Red Chord with more than a bit of Jeff Buckley’s “Last Goodbye” thrown in for good measure.

All in all anybody with any complaints after about 4 hours of top class entertainment should really go back to that thriving nightclub scene.

Adrian Lanigan

 

Where's The Craic - Glen Hansard at The Music Club

What was expected to be a small intimate gig with Glen Hansard turned into an acoustic dream. As a weekly event the music club provides music lovers and musicians alike the opportunity to indulge and partake in music. First up was Kilkenny based Steve Murphy followed by Tony Cleere, Tom Bolger and Eamon O`Connor. Glen Hansard accompanied by Mic Christopher and Josh Ritter followed these regulars to the music club. Paddy Casey also stopped by to complete the set. This was one of those gigs where music fans along with the musicians created a magical atmosphere. For the entire duration of the gig you could hear a pin drop.

Mic Christopher who is currently celebrating his brilliant debut release heyday" played the opening track on his EP "heyday" along with "looking for Jude" and "Kids Song". His musical style and energy is as spirit lifting and melodious as a white man can ever get.

American singer songwriter Josh Ritter then took centre stage. His close blend of folk music reminds you of a young Johnny Cash or Tom Waits. Josh performed tracks from his second album "Golden age of radio". The songs performed included the opening track "Come and find me" followed by "Roll on" and "Harrisburg". This is Josh Ritters debut to an Irish audience who attentively listened and whispered along to the chorus of "Come and find me" creating a haunting melody.

Glen Hansard from the Frames took the audience by storm with tracks from the Frames previous albums "Dance the Devil" and "Fitzcarraldo" along with one or two older tracks for the devoted fans. Glens introduction came from Tony Cleere who announced him as "A man of our time". The highlight came for me when Glen sang a version of Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" with an electric guitar that raised the roof.

Paddy Casey then came on and performed a beautiful rendition of "The auld triangle" with Glen Hansard. The night was topped off with Josh and Mic rejoining Glen to perform together.

The audience put it best by demanding two encores and were only stopped from demeaning more by the plug being pulled well after closing hours. The best four quid I have ever spent.

James Malone

 

Where's The Craic - A Wee Night For Uaneen

The cream of Irish music turned out to pay homage to one of Ireland's favourite hostesses. Uaneen Fitzsimons brought musical talent back to the masses with added spontaneity and charisma. The strength of "No Disco" was Uaneen's ability to be informed in seemingly every musical trend that was in vogue. Her charismatic smile and easy manner disarmed us the seated audience at home and those of you who were touched by her in life. To the many artists she interviewed she was the ideal calming hostess.

Her tragic death in 2000 left a vacant space in many peoples hearts and deprived a nation of a talented and loved presenter. A wee night for Uaneen was contrived of as the best way to celebrate the life and achievements of Ireland's best exponent of music.

The all star lineout included Ash / BellX1 / Paddy Casey / The Devlins / The Frames / David Kitt + Robbie Kitt / Mundy / dEUS / The Blue Nile / Relish / Sack / Snow Patrol / Wilt / Therapy / The Undertones / Sinead O'Connor and Gavin Friday to mention a few.

Dave Fanning, John Kelly and Tony Fenton presented the show hosted in the Olympia Theatre Dublin. Each band was allotted two songs each with no set running schedule. The intimate tribute was kicked off by Dublin band Sack who played songs from their EP "Adventura Majestica" to a rapturous crowd.

Amongst some of the most memorable moments were David Kitt accompanied by ten year old brother Robbie who sang "Another Love Song". On entering the stage young Robbie was faced with the crowd chanting his name, which he took in his stride. Wilt performed "The One I Love" by R.E.M., which set the tone for numerous strange and interesting cover versions during the night. These included Gavin Friday singing Coldplays "Yellow" accompanied by piano and Paddy Casey with the Frames singing the Waterboys hit "The Whole Of The moon".

To end a stunning night of music Sinead O'Connor joined Gavin Friday for a duet of "Thief of my heart" the theme track to the film "In the name of the father". This haunting melody and Sinead's stunning vocal ability silenced the crowd and gave me goose bumps. The final moment however belonged to the Frames. They kicked off their set with "Revelate" and went on to a stunning performance of "Star, Star". This saw Glen jump the drum kit guitar in suit followed by him trashing the guitar in true rock`n roll style. He then finished the song by creating absolute silence in a capacity crowd by whispered the final lyrics leaving the crowd still singing. Truly brilliant.

He summed up the feelings of the evening when on introducing 'Star, Star', he said ' This song is for a sleeping angel, goodbye and we look forward to meeting up with you on the other side.'

Uaneen would surly have appreciated the amazing performance by all involved and will be sadly missed by all but remembered fondly as the voice of alternative music in Ireland.

James Malone

 

The Lobby, Cork - Glen Hansard

Venue: The Lobby
Safe Haven For Hansard

On Tuesday night, March 6th, the Lobby (Union Quay) was certainly the place to be as Glen Hansard, front-man with Dublin indie outfit The Frames, played to a full house of eagerly awaiting fans. Support on this night was provided by Songs: Ohia, a critically acclaimed lo-fi US outfit, Chicago born Nad Navillus, aka Dan Sullivan, and Josh Ritter.

The Lobby’s atmosphere nicely complements these kind of solo gigs, providing an aesthetically pleasing and intimate atmosphere. As Glen Hansard described it tonight, it is regarded by some as 'the best room in Ireland' for live music.

First act up was Nad Navillus, whose style may be described as mellow, laid back and soulful folk music. One song which particularly illustrated this was 'Your Good Side', which also demonstrated his great rhythmical ability . Unfortunately Mr Navillus only graced us with his presence for a six song set, which I personally found rather disappointing as he had been billed as the main support act and no matter the reason it just seemed too short a set. Josh Ritter on the other hand was slightly more entertaining, although musically he was comparatively similar to Navillus. He conveyed through his lyrics and stage presence a great sense of humour. Songs such as 'Me and Jigs', which he claimed, to the amazement of the crowd, was written simply about 'throwing rocks back home in Idaho'. But by far his best song was 'What Makes the Stars Shine', a song which conveyed his strong sense of humour through its unlikely theme, the contrast between scientific jargon and the simple country way of life. The fact he was very enthusiastically applauded said it all.

Finally the eagerly anticipated moment arrived. Yes, Glen Hansard casually manoeuvred himself towards the stage, to the roaring delight of the crowd. Before commencing his performance, Glen paid tribute to his support on the night, who he informed us did great things for The Frames in the States. The most noticeable aspect of Glen Hansard performance, besides his impressive talent for writing catchy, infectious pop/folk songs, was his on stage stand up comedy routine, which established a great rapport with the crowd. For example, tonight in the early part of his set Hansard informed us that the noise of the fan on the ceiling accompanied by the sound of rain water on the roof would cause him to be 'dying for a slash' mid way through the gig. Hansard really does have genuine stage presence and a sense of stage banter which does quickly dispels any ideas that he may be just another pretentious chancer up there for the chicks. Hansard's set list for the night featured mainly Frames material from their back-catalogue as well as songs from their new record (which is entitled 'For The Birds') such as 'Lay Me Down'. Glen demonstrated his affection for the all-too-common theme in music of doomed romance in 'Come Find Me'. He also showed off his ability for innovation as he gave us renditions of several songs which on the night featured Graham Coxon-style chainsaw guitar – most impressive. This coupled with his superb cover version of Van Morrison’s 'Astral Weeks' and his encore with Josh Ritter left the audience in no doubt that Glen Hansard is still a force to be reckoned with in Irish music.

High Point: Glen Hansard's 'Come Find Me'.
Low Point: The first act whose set was too short. I mean, six songs – come on.
Date of Event: March 6th 2001

 

muse.ie - Icon

Lead Frame Glen Hansard on why Will Oldham (Palace Music/Palace Brothers/BONNIE PRINCE BILLY) is the man who does it for him every time.

"A couple of years ago, someone gave me a tape with Will Oldham on it and it was one of those moments where you feel the shape of your skull being bent by something. Something changed, and that something blossomed and grew a little family and that something has basically taken over my head completely now! I admire his spirit, his philosophy. He's a very, very hardworking, prolific musician.

It seems like he's never been put under pressure to be anything other than who he is and he seems very happy and comfortable with who he is. He has never tried to fool anybody. He's not a liar. You get this real impression from him that he's telling his truth. I love his lyrics too. I haven't enjoyed someone singing that well since I first got into Bob Dylan.

It's not real scripted, he seems to just write them down, then look at the page and sing it. I wouldn't say it's influenced our stuff a lot but it has influenced the way I look at music. I wouldn't say that there's a huge Will Oldham feel to our album at all (I wouldn't dare compare myself to him), but maybe our next one!"

 

Independent Sounds - "For The Birds"

The Frames seem to find it impossible to write a bad song…. or album. They don’t just create really good songs, but ones that defy your expectations. There is something about every Frames song I’ve ever listened to that takes the melodies and rhythms and lyrics one step further than any other band. It’s hard to say what exactly gives the songs their intensity, but whatever it is, it’s consistent. ‘For The Birds’ is the bands latest musical offering and it’s got intensity by the bucket load.

I suppose, when you think about it, there’s no real mystery to the band’s appeal. The Frames have the surprisingly rare combination of talented musicians playing accomplished songs and this Steve Albini produced album should be proof, to any who need it, that The Frames are one of the best bands to come out of Ireland. Ever. Most of the tracks on ‘For The Birds’ are what you might call ‘understated’, as there is an absence of heavy choruses or catchy riffs. There are some loud bits (and believe me, when it gets loud, it gets loud) and all the tracks are immediately engaging, but the album as a whole is distinctly different from its predecessor ‘Dance The Devil’ or, for that matter, from 1994’s ‘Fitzcarraldo’. The opening track, ‘In The Deep Shade’ kind of sets the tone. Soft and heart-meltingly melancholy, it’s impossible not to immediately get drawn into the album. The second track is called ‘Lay Me Down’ and somehow seems to be the perfect song to follow. A gritty drum rhythm introduces a simple folksy arrangement with twanging banjo and acoustic guitar strolling along against those distinctive vocals. ‘What Happens When the Heart Just Stops’ has a hymn-like quality that every song on this album possesses in some shape or form, and is followed by ‘Headlong’, a slow sweeping track with a superb string accompaniment and drums that sound as if they’ve been recorded in someone’s bathroom (that’s good, by the way).

‘Fighting On The stairs’ is up next with more banjos and a Casio keyboard style drum machine rhythm that compliments the organic quality of the song. Song six, ‘Giving Me Wings’ keeps it slow and simple and, just in case it might get predictable, is followed by a great big slice of organised noise in the shape of ‘Early Bird’, a huge stately affair with swirling melodies just about emerging over the din. And just when it’s going for the big climax it suddenly grinds to a halt and we’re plunged into the awful, awful ‘Friends And Foe’. It’s awful because it’s so fucking beautiful and it’s almost painful to have to sit and listen to such a simple, brilliant song. It’s the kind of track that requires a great big sigh after you’ve listened to it. ‘Santa Maria’, track nine is also pretty intense, but in a more enjoyably way. Starting off almost imperceptibly quietly it boasts a great bass line that could almost be described as catchy. ‘Disappointed’ is guaranteed to put a lump in the throat of even the most die hard Dr. Dre fan and ‘Mighty Sword’ is the perfect closer, dramatic not a little eerie and slightly better than should be possible.

‘For The Birds’ is some achievement from a band who are fully deserving of any praise they get and one has to wonder if it ever gets boring, being this good all the time. It’s an album not so much of anthems but of hymns because the sheer power each song simply transcends the confines of ‘normal’ music. You’re reading this and you don’t believe me so buy the album and hear for yourself. Give the band a few royalties. They all deserve Cadillacs and outdoor swimming pools anyway.

Francis Heery

 

Where's The Craic - "For The Birds"

Release: For The Birds
Label: Plateau Records
Buy Value: 7/10
Website: www.plateaurecords.com

The eagerly anticipated fourth album from one of Irelands established musical giants the Frames has unreservedly been worth the wait. The Frames may never have been catapulted to the heights of economic prosperity that some lesser Irish acts have enjoyed but most of these acts will only ever achieve a fraction of what the Frames have accomplished in their careers.

The fourth album simply entitled "For The Birds" is an interesting and unexpected musical u-turn for the band. The album enlisted the production skills of Steve Albini who produced works for legends such as The Pixies and Nirvana. Albini's inclusion for me was the unexpected curve ball. I expected an album in line with songs like "Revelate" and "The stars are underground". So when I finally got to listen to their new works I was pleasantly and cautiously surprised.

The album opens with the beautifully instrumental "In the deep shade" and follows on with "Lay me down" a melodiously crafted folk song. Songs like "Fighting on the stairs" are up-tempo whilst keeping the albums underlying folk current.

The album is an acoustic Monet masterpiece in artistic terms. The band has shaken off the aggression of past works to unveil a delightful and content side of the Frames. This however doesn't mean that they have abandoned their characteristic loud guitar and vocal combination. Songs like the brilliant and personal favourite "Early bird" give the album a great sense of balance and equilibrium.

James Malone

 

Where's The Craic - The Frames - 'For The Birds' national tour

There are pros and cons to everything in life. So deciding to embark on a feverish day by day gigging schedule across the country obviously has its ups and downs. Different towns create completely different atmospheres and audiences. The one thing that has astounded me about The Frames is their ability to manipulate these audiences and capture new audiences along the way. One could nearly equate Glen Hansard as Irelands answer to the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

At yet another sell out gig, this time in Kilkenny city The Frames waved their magic over yet another enraptured audience. Supported by the stunning talents of Mic Christopher and Josh Ritter who can both in their own right evoke the same crowd silencing magic that The Frames so often achieve during their live sets.

The gig was part of a national tour to promote the Frames fourth album "For The Birds". The venue was the coffin confines of Cleeres Theatre where we were treated to some of the soft lullabies that the new album offers along with some classy past masters. Some of the new tracks featured included "What happens when the heart just stops", the catchy and provocative "Fighting on the stairs" and the crowd thrashing "Santa Maria". Past masters included their established sing along anthem "Star, Star".

James Malone

 

RTÉ Online - ACE - April 12 2001

The Frames – For The Birds
Plateau Records – 2001 – 52 minutes

The Frames have come of age. 'For The Birds', the fourth album in their catalogue of hits and near misses brims over with tunes of tenderness and humanity. From the Will Oldham-esque 'Lay Me Down' to the yearning of 'Disappointed', the album is proof of an epic leap forward from an always intriguing band. Released on their own Plateau Records and recorded with Steve Albini and ex-dEUS man Craig Ward, this is the album The Frames have been trying to make for a long time.

One of several high points is the heartbreakingly gorgeous 'What Happens When the Heart Just Stops'. A gently swelling melody emerges complete with trumpet crescendo as Hansard weaves in a reference to the later 'Disappointed'. Bookended by the similarly tender and beautiful 'Lay Me Down' and 'Headlong', this fine trilogy segues into the jangly, uplifting 'Fighting On the Stairs'. Hansard seems to have forsaken anger for compassion, his lyrics have a new depth and resonance that he has only touched on in the past.

The contribution of the rest of the band cannot be underestimated particularly the melancholic elegance of Colm Mac Con Iomaire's violin playing and Dave Hingerty's understated, yet atmospheric drums. With influences ranging through Mercury Rev, Sigur Rós, Songs: Ohia and The Dirty Three, 'For The Birds' is nothing short of stunning. This is an album that will quietly insinuate itself into your life and refuse to let go of your heart. Can you resist?

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: In the Deep Shade - Lay Me Down - What Happens When The Heart Just Stops - Headlong - Fighting On The Stairs - Giving Me Wings - Early Bird - Friends and Foe - Santa Maria - Disappointed - Mighty Sword (Lusitania)

 

Road Records - April 4 2001

"For The Birds" (Plateau Records)

There's been a lot of talk about the Frames over the last couple of years (eh, didn't mean to sound like Bono there) and their seeming willingness to embrace new directions and take new paths since turning off the corporate highway. A lot of that may have been slightly premature as, in hindsight, their last album, 'Dance The Devil', was a massive pop album, featuring occasional glimpses of the obviously difficult and dangerous musical adventures ahead.

Two very recent performances at The Olympia Theatre, though, have helped to clear the muddied waters. Their performance of 'Star Star' at The Wee Night For Uaneen showed that Glen Hansard's lyrics have now transcended the beautiful music that the now stable line-up have been making over the last few years. Later, at their headliner at the same venue, on the night of the release of this album, the material from 'For The Birds' juxtaposed perfectly with past Frames songs. Proving, perhaps, that although this album is a radical change for them, it's really been a matter of many not being able to see the wood for the trees, rather than any lack of quality in the Frames own abilities. That's something which their unbelievably loyal gig going fanbase latched onto many years ago. So, this may not be the most immediate album you'll ever hear, but sure as hell, given a few spins, it'll be one of the best.

Instrumental 'In The Deep Shade' sets the tone perfectly, indicating that epics like 'Pavement Tune' and 'Revelate' may be absent from this record. Instead, what we get are eleven tunes (and one hidden track) which are a distillation of the all the great music the Frames have been absorbing over the last few years. There are echoes of everything from Will Oldham to Slint. There's more than just the ghost of Songs: Ohia floating around here, and Jason Molina has obviously been a huge influence on them during the writing and recording. The new beauty of The Frames lies in the fact that all this new found prowess is contained within the band as a unit. Guitarist David Odlum and his brother Karl have brilliantly taken the production reins, and former Deus mans Craig Ward's shaping can't be under estimated. No members' musical contribution can be undervalued here, and the stability and subtleness of the rhythm section is a big factor.

Highlights? Well 'Lay Me Down' is imbued with a deep Irish melancholy, a barley hidden sadness that can rip your heart out. 'What Happens When The Heart Just Stops' and its deeply emotional cry of being "disappointed" is part of a brilliant refrain in the song of the same name, featured later in the album. The swell of horns at the end, taking the listener on a ride, is akin to being on the tip of a surfers wave. One gets the impression that this is Hansard's most overt confession of their confusions and tribulations, as they seek to make the absolutely gigantic artistic leap which 'For The Birds' is. 'Headlong' is a beautiful love song gorgeously underpinned by Colm Mac Con Iomaire's deeply spiritual fiddle playing and another swell of emotion. 'Fighting On The Stairs' even features a guest appearance from the family dog.

A hidden track at the end lets the Frames vent some musical spleen and muscle, with the hand of Steve Albini being most apparent. There's little doubt that 'For The Birds' is the great artistic statement that the Frames have been striving to make, a record that's the culmination of their musical and personal tribulations over the last ten years or so. It's an incredibly independent and brave record, a triumph of art over commerce, yet one that's so brilliant it could sell by the shedload. 'For The Birds' is the most heart warming and belated triumph by an Irish band, and the most positive affirmation of their passionate convictions. Absolutely and completely outstanding.

Dave Roberts
Dublin Event Guide

 

muse.ie - Come On Up To The House - January 21 2000

Wherever you are right now, I'm guessing you're cold. We've packed away the decorations for another year, swept up the last of our New Year debris and what have we got to look forward to for the next couple of months? Stepping in puddles, slipping on ice and runny noses. But all's not bleak. Back from their jaunt around Ireland entertaining the masses, The Frames and the rest of their travelling circus (Jubilee Allstars, David Kitt and Dave Cleary) have kindly put together a CD to keep us cosy. And a gentle affair it is too.

From the sweet nursery rhymes of The Frames' "Star Star **" to Dave Cleary's cinematic shuffles as Deasy Mooneye, "Come On Up To The House" feels as good as a long stretch first thing in the morning. Jubilee Allstars' "Evening Brings Me Home" seems to come straight from creaking rocking chairs on sticky Memphis nights while the quiet pop of David Kitt's "Song From Hope St (Brooklyn, NY)" secures his position as the singer/songwriter it's OK to like. The modest beauty of charming little Jubilee Allstar Barry McCormack's "After This Low" alone makes this CD worth a purchase. Add to that the Super 8 elegance of Daragh McDonagh's video for "Star Star **" and "Come On Up To The House" is the perfect record to ease us out of warm beds and keep us toasty all day long.

Cat Hughes

 

Independent Records "Come On Up To The House EP"

The Frames were accompanied by Jubilee Allstars, David Kitt and Dave Cleary as they hit the highways and byways of Ireland for an 11 date tour in December 1999 which culminated a show in Dublin's Tivoli Theatre on New Years Eve. The multi-media shows included a showing of Darragh McCarthy's infamous film about the Irish Independent music scene 'The Stars Are Underground'..

To coincide with the tour a limited edition Mini album was available at the gigs featuring The Frames, Jubilee Allstars, the debut of David Kitt, Barry McCormack & Friends, and Dave Cleary, and also including the brand new video for The Frames track "Star, Star").

The Frames released their third and most acclaimed album 'Dance The Devil..' in June of this year. Dance The Devil... Of course, it's taken Glen Hansard and co. a while to get here, from the Nick Drake-meets-The-Pixies joyous noise of their 1992 debut Another Love Song, through the almost Zeppelin-esque plains of Fitzcarraldo three years later, to the I Am The Magic Hand EP of a few months agoŠbut at last, this is The Frames at their most evolved harnessing the acclaimed kinetic energy of their live shows and converting it into recorded sound. The Frames continue to sell out pretty much every gig they play in Ireland.

 

Zeitgeist Magazine - "Big Gig @ The Lobby"  December 9 1999

The Frames, Jubilee Allstars, David Kitt, Dave Cleary

The Frames
Jubilee Allstars
David Kitt
Dave Cleary
The Stars Are Underground’ (Film)
Irish Tour December 1999

THE LOBBY BAR, CORK FRI 17TH DECEMBER.
ADVANCE TICKETS FROM THE VENUE, 021 311113

_______________________________________
The Frames are accompanied by Jubilee Allstars, David Kitt and Dave Cleary as they hit the highways and byways of Ireland for an 11 date tour in December. The multi-media shows include a showing of Darragh McCarthy’s infamous film about the Irish Independent music scene The Stars Are Underground’.

To coincide with the tour a limited edition EP will be available at the gigs ONLY (featuring The Frames, Jubilee Allstars, David Kitt, Barry McCormack & Friends, and Dave Cleary, and also including the brand new video for The Frames track "Star, Star").

_______________________________________
_______________________________________
The Frames released their third and most acclaimed album Dance The Devil..’ in June of this year. Dance The Devil... Of course, it’s taken Glen Hansard and co. a while to get here, from the Nick Drake-meets-The-Pixies joyous noise of their 1992 debut Another Love Song, through the almost Zeppelin-esque plains of Fitzcarraldo three years later, to the I Am The Magic Hand EP of a few months ago but at last, this is The Frames at their most evolved harnessing the acclaimed kinetic energy of their live shows and converting it into recorded sound. The Frames continue to sell out pretty much every gig they play in Ireland.

 

ZTT Records - The Organisation Of Pop

Dance The Devil...

The Frames. 8 years old. 8 years of Dublin. 8 years of touring America, Europe, The East. 6 record companies. 4 managers. Many big loans. A hundred songs. No press. Several departures. Several new recruits. A third album.

Following on from their debut (Another Love Song) and their second album (Fitzcarraldo), Dance The Devil sees The Frames return to the familiar terrain of passion, revelation, defence, and monumental love. Added to this Alfredo also sees the introduction of some new lessons from the road, those of patience, humility, belonging, a quiet sense of humour and a more intimate love.

In short this is an album about a band travelling the one way road between being 20 and being 30. Music detailing the benefits of hindsight and the pain of fatigue, the time lost and the independence earned.

Written and recorded in France, England and Ireland over the last two years, Dance The Devil is, as with their previous outings, a self penned and packaged release and (with the exception of the Trevor Horn production of God Bless Mom) has the distinction of being The Frames first self produced album.

The core foursome if David Odlum, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Glen Hansard and Joe Doyle remain, with contributions from ex - Frames Paul Brennan, Therapy's Graham Hopkins and all the way from Dallas, Texas, Mr. Earl Harvin - all on drums. Also chipping in were Dublin chanteuse Nina Hynes and some barking guitar from dEUS' Craig Ward. Some new instrumentation too, with everything from harmoniums and vibraphones to location recordings and Dictaphone solos making their way into the mix.

Added to this, their frequent gigging and tours, re-enforcing a reputation as Ireland's strongest live act, with a dedicated following, The Frames are currently feeling very strong and proud of their music. With stomping paeans to unsung heroes (Stars are Underground, God Bless Mom), sweet tributes to friends ( Neath the Beeches), songs of hunger and fatigue (Perfect Opening Line), songs of strength and wonder (7 Day Mile) and songs of healing (Dance The Devil), The Frames have come a long distance and have arrived.

 

muse.ie - "Dance The Devil"

The Frames - Dance The Devil (ZTT)

It has been a long and sometimes strange trip for Glen Hansard and his cohorts. The distance from 1990's high-speed hurly-gurly incarnation to the fascinating sounds which are present throughout this album is immense, yet it's a journey which makes a lot of sense if you think about it. While The Frames may not be or have been to everyone's taste, one thing Glen Hansard could never be accused of doing is simply jogging on the spot. While many would (and indeed have) sought to profit by association with their past, Hansard has continuously taken the Frames to another plateau, and "Dance The Devil" is the soundtrack for our first spin round the current place they call home.

It would be churlish to say that the Frames have discovered lo-fi and leave it at that. Sure, the sensibilities that mark records from the likes of Slint, Smog, Pavement and (largely) Will Oldham have been adapted to Hansard's muse. But a track like recent single "Pavement Tune" has far more meat and weight in a pop sense than anything that you'll encounter from the lo-fi underground. Hansard's strength is still his observations as a songwriter and these, married to a more muscular sound, are the stuff on which a future can be built. Tracks like "Seven Day Mile" and the title track contain the germ for what may well come in time. It's down to the band more than anyone else to ensure that these steps lead somewhere other than another year in Dublin. On this showing, they certainly deserve to keep moving.

Jim Carroll

 

freeserve - "Dance The Devil"

"..in 'Star Star', Hansard's voice retreats to somewhere behind his tonsils and breaks with emotion on every syllable, while the overlaid harmonies flash on and off like, ahem, a thousand dazzling points of light." ....

 

Monkey House Film Productions - 1998

HOT PRESS - PRESS REVIEWS FOR THE STARS ARE UNDERGROUND
AUGUST 21 1996

"Taking his lead from John T. Davis' fly-on-the-wall look at the Northern Ireland punk scene, Shell Shock Rock, producer Daragh McCarthy has used a combination of beta, 16mm and super 8 to convey the excitement of a scene which he believes to be "the equal of anything that's going on at the moment in the UK. What I admire about these bands is that they're willing to do things for themselves," he continues. "Rather than moaning about on one wanting to sign them, they're arranging their own gigs, making their own records and generally bypassing the established Irish music industry." Mexican Pets, Pet Lamb, Female Hercules, Cruiser, Tension, Wormhole, and Jubilee all star in the documentary, which McCarthy hopes will come to the attention of someone in the RTE acquisitions department. "At the moment," he reveals, "we've got screenings coming up at the Galway film Fleadh and the Manchester international short film festival but ultimately I'd like to get it on TV where I think it would work very well." The stars are underground" isn't McCarthy's only foray into the world of music - his Monkeyhouse production company are currently filming the mother of all road documentaries for Ash."

BRIAN BOYD, IRISH TIMES

AUGUST 16TH, 1996

"The stars are underground" is a pretty damn good docu-pic about the lo-fi slacker punk grunge alterno-rock "scene" in Dublin. Produced, directed and everything else by Daragh McCarthy (who's currently working on an Ash world tour documentary), it's a fascinating insight into the world of indie-labels like dead elvis and blunt and the bands on their roster - a sort of Shell Shock Rock of its time."

 

Sorted Magazine - "Dance The Devil"

"Every review about the Frames mentions their popularity at home and their failure to make it abroad. Comparisons are made with their Belgian buddies dEUS, and the amount of appeal they have in indie circles as opposed to the Frames. But that ignores one thing, the Frames are a brilliant band. Especially live. A few years ago I went to see them support dEUS in the Mean Fiddler and they failed to impress. Every other time they've been amazing. The songs are eroded to the essentials as Glen Hansard bares his soul, laments the intricacies of life and mourns for lost love.

However, the emotional resonance that they exhibit in vast quantities live is not fully replicated here. The album's reviews have been enthusiastic but that's partly because most of the journalists haven't seen them live, which is an altogether more powerful experience. The main album fault lies in their decision to alter songs that were practically perfect, 'star star**' being the obvious example. It's still a fantastic song, but the live version is better. The group has been complaining about the amount of influence the record company had on the final product so perhaps this is where such tampering is most obvious. The final product however is still infinitely better than the vast majority of commercially hyped rubbish that will find its way onto your stereo this year. Buy it now."

Neil Callanan

 

Eclectic Honey - "Dance The Devil"

Many people had expected another Frames album to be pretty much like the last one; indie, rock and a few quieter moments all interspersed with beautiful violins. However if the first single God Bless Mom was not enough to warn fans of the new Frames direction, this album certainly is. The wonderfully moving Neath the Beeches, conjures up memories of Fitzcarraldo's highlight Your Face, proving that the band can still create poignant, affecting songs with emotion and intensity so palpable in Hansard's voice, anyone not overcome should check their pulse. The album starts off with Perfect Opening Line which is indeed exactly that. The slow build up of tense Glen Hansard vocals and tight guitars growl into a chorus with cries of "You'll be walking out of here, Not caring anyway". The anger and emotion of Fitzcarraldo remain but their musical expertise is even more honed on this record.

But the album also shows a gentler side to the Frames and their lyric writing development. In Star Star we have one of the most beautiful songs that the band has ever written and you really do believe Glen when he pleads "Star, star teach me how to shine, shine, teach me so I know what's going on in your mind" with aching vocals filled with hope and despair at the same time. The album passes through many moments of emotion as glen compares his life to being on a plateau , a feeling that has been and will be experienced by many.

This album contains some of the band's finest songwriting moments and tracks like Plateau and Star Star are amongst the best that will be released this year. The Frames have always been the one band to give Irish music fans hope over the past few years. When the British rock critics have slated Ireland for being the land of pop, we were able to smugly laugh at them, as they had not yet discovered the true songwriting and musical talent of the frames. And they have missed out on so much. Every so often a short 80 word review may manage to squeeze itself into the reviews pages of the NME or the Melody maker, and it probably goes unread by the many who glance through the pages, but maybe that's OK because afterall "The stars are underground" and sometimes the trouble of discovering a new band makes the victory all that sweeter.

The album also shows where the influences have come from with the second single aptly named "Pavement Tune" and sounding a little like something that American rockers pavement might create themselves. The tense Hollocaine and anthemic Rent Day Blues add balance to the record, and make it a very accomplished and complete work. This could well turn out to be one of those albums that does not receive its just desserts until years later, when people will be citing it as the Irish album of the 1990's. This album is not just a record made by one of the few Irish bands to rise above the mediocre status, but rather it gives Irish people an identity to hang on to amongst the Welsh rise of the manics, stereophonics and SFA, The Scottish triumph of Travis and B&S, and the English triumph of Oasis and Radiohead, otherwise we might just get "lost in the mush". Perhaps the greatest triumph of the frames is that they have never stopped developing their sound, and still they are simple, honest songwriters. The Frames offer no gimmicks or special effects, just 100% of themselves for 50 minutes.

The album finishes with such an uplifting and optimistic track that you really wish the album hadn't ended quite so soon as Glen sings "And you can dance, dance the poison right out of your soul, and we can dance, dance the devil back into his hole,….".

Michelle Dalton

 

UBL.com - "Dance The Devil"

On their 1999 album Dance The Devil, Dublin's Frames craft more of the passionate rock that has made them popular in their homeland.

Songs like "Pavement Tune" are catchy and focused, making this collection their best to date.

Heather Phares, All Music Guide

 

Irish Music Net - Features - November 1998

No longer dogged by his role in The Commitments, Hansard might have flourished in songwriting terms since then, but his commercial cachet still leaves a lot to be desired. Record company problems (his band The Frames released an extremely good album, Fitzcarraldo, on ZTT) haven't helped him either, but he's a strong songwriter with a distinctly lyrical touch. Overlooked, but not unbowed, Hansard might just surprise us all.

Tony Clayton-Lea

 

UBL.com - "Dance The Devil"

Frames DC
Active decade: 90s
Genre - ROCK

Dublin, Ireland rockers the Frames D.C. were led by singer Glen Hansard, who quit school at age 13 to begin busking on the streets near his family's home. After pressing 50 copies of a demo tape four years later, he was soon approached by Island Records exec Danny Cordell and signed to the label, but was dropped after releasing just one album, 1992's Another Love Song. Reeling from disappointment, Hansard decamped to New York City before returning to Dublin to reform the Frames with guitarist David Odlum, bassist Graham Downey, violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire and drummer Paul Brennan; signing to ZTT, the group released Fitzcarraldo in 1996. Dance the Devil followed in mid-1999.

Chuck Donkers, All Music Guide

 

Miscellaneous reviews - "Fitzcarraldo"

The Frames superb album "Fitzcarraldo" is available in record stores worldwide. Here's what the music press have to say about "Fitzcarraldo":

 

"The real genius of The Frames lies in their effective balance of musical prowess and passionate lyrics. The words can stand on their own, but it is the skill of the musicians which brings them to life"
Paula Vayas - Bulletin

"The Frames DC specialise in glorious rock with an original and often off the wall slant"
Evening Express

"Raw, rocky and unfashionably for real, this lot are undoubtedly going to be a force to be reckoned with."
David Sinclair - The Times

"For me, the album of the year was not a brand new shiny CD by fresh-faced upstarts with as much ego as talent. It was the remixed, repackaged and rejuvenated Fitzcarraldo by the Frames, which again went relatively un-noticed by the world in general."
Hot Press

"Raw, rocky and for real, this lot are undoubtedly going to be a force to be reckoned with."
London Times

 

Internet - Ciaran Flynn

1996 was the year that Radiohead played in CastleGar in Galway, the year that Oasis became superstars (for whatever reason), Manic Street Preachers released their comeback, A design for life, Alanis released Jagged Little Pill (One hit Wonder), The Fugees, Mundy released Jelly Legs, The Plague Monkeys claimed their entrance to fame with "The Plague Monkeys", moshing and crowd surfing are made illegal in Ireland and The Frames released Fitzcarraldo.

The debut plastic novel from the Dublin writers - The Frames DC.

Little was known about the band at that time. I heard a rumour that Glen from The Frames DC had appeared on Alan Parker's film, the Commitments. I first heard Revelate in or around the same time. I was impressed to the point that I believed in a long prosperous future for the band. The anthem track rung out in my head for weeks after I first heard it. The earliest memory I have of the band is singing Revelate to myself on The Big Day Out in Galway (the Radiohead Gig), but knew very little about them. On Halloween night 1996 my life would change, to confirm my suspicion that this band might just be the best band that Ireland has to be proud of, I saw The Frames DC live in the Canteen of my Uni Campus. It was a mental night, I was entranced and stoned on great original sounds and the thirst for individuality - inspired by one of the best bands that ever performed. It was only then that I had realised that there are perhaps millions of great bands with great sounds out there but I have not had the opportunity to hear them, I regarded myself as being lucky that I had seen this packet of alternative harmonies.

The gig went great though I had been a little anxious to hear Revelate once again. Eventually, after about two hours of genius home grown indigenous talent, I heard the intro to Today by The Smashing Pumpkins and knew that Revelate was on the next carriage. After two lines of Today they broke into Revelate and excited the crowd to the point of frenzy and absolute chaos. We were not alone, Glen forced his Telecaster through the suspended ceiling and dived into the crowd in a rage of freedom. Although he fucked up the ceiling, we loved him for it. We were liberated and exposed by the power of the band's music.

When you first listen to the album you will probably notice the delicate sounds generated from the violin. A lot has to be said for the band's ability to release an amazingly cool alternative album built from the roots of Irish influence without giving into commercialism and all of the trappings that go with it. The violin rings throughout the music and reminds us that The Frames DC are essentially an Irish band playing essentially raw Irish music. Angel at my table is genius, as is Evergreen but the best songs on the album has got to be, in my opinion, the title track, Fitzcarraldo, Red Cord and If you have something to say (then say it to me now).

I was excited by the band and imagined a very luminous future of success and the will and right to do as this band pleased, they could do no wrong.

I heard very little of the band after that but did happen to see them playing on No Disco with an acoustic set, a few months later I saw them on Donal Lunny's show, SULT - Spirit of the music. This program traces back to the roots of Irish music and has a lot of traditional guest on board. They appeared unplugged and played Revelate with a few other musicians that were on the set - I loved it!!!

 

Internet - Ciaran Flynn

CUBA live session room in Galway - October 1998

In October 1998 I went to see The Frames DC in CUBA live session room in Galway. This is and amazingly intimate venue check it out sometime. A few hundred could get tickets to the gig. I was standing back in the crowd while the night rolled on, listening to Garbage. Then just before the band made it to the stage I got up close. So close that I was on the stage for the gig. Moshing and crowd surfing were made illegal in Ireland in 1996. This did not stop us and neither did the crowd control unit at the gig. Fuck all that shit - we were having a good time and forgot about life outside of the music. We were on that roller coaster ride towards our own individual heavens. The buzz factor was at a serious all time high and the greatest night out in the history of time had been experienced. We observed and indulged in some of the new sounds from the band that had already brought us liberation and a good night out. These new sounds were raw and great - and best served loudly. Examples of the rawness include: Glens strap became undone during Monument but continued to play, holding onto that guitar with everything he had but there was more - he played it over his head while trying to get the strap around and played with one hand while fixing the strap. A string breaks but he continues and after the extended version of the song he addresses the crowd and asks someone to replace his string.

The Frames DC are not trying to be famous or rich, well maybe rich but certainly not famous. They might love the local centralised fame in Ireland but they realise that to be famous in their business involves a huge cost - "you must sell your soul". This will not happen to The Frames. They are not concerned with the number one slot in the charts and genuinely respect their fans. I spoke with Glen after the gig and he was so grateful that he was realising his dream and we were helping him do it. We love their music and their attitude. I respect and admire the entire band for their commitment to being themselves in a world of tempting offers and a propensity towards commercialism. I think that the Frames would enjoy being rich from doing what they do now and famous for changing the music industry. It is great to see the following that the Frames have at the moment. Expect the new sounds out sometime in early 1999.

"Some bands like to be successful and on Top of the Pops and I think that's a lot of shit, we are the Frames and we like to do whatever we want. We want to have fun. This venue is the best venue I have seen or played in, it's nice and close and the stage is low - thank you for coming to see us we appreciate it…"

 

Internet - Ciaran Flynn

CUBA LIVE GALWAY
February 18 1999

It was to be one of those great nights again, a night with the Frames DC here in Galway. From early that evening and indeed many evenings before the gig I waited in hope that I would meet Glen Hansard. Here is possibly the most credible Irish musician of our time. Here is a man with a dream and the will to see it through. Here is a man with a passion. Here is a man with a new 5 track EP, I am the Magic Hand, in Galway with a beat up Telecaster and a great sound. Here is a man with ambition, promise and in pursuit of a great night on the stage. Here is a band of young men gracing the city tonight with what is the most important sound from the Irish to the Irish.

I AM THE MAGIC HAND

All of the bands Anthem tracks were played tonight backed up by the new sounds, some of which have not even been heard yet. The band brought with them their long awaited EP, I am the magic Hand.

This delightfully mellow arrangement of mature and brilliantly conceived ideas are presented in a frames dc sort of way.

Upon hearing the album you wonder if it can get much better. For me, The Stars Are Underground (Track 4 on EP), is the most soulful example of how serious the Frames DC are about creating the music that is beginning to change the Irish Rock scene. The Frames have always been well respected but now this EP places them on another more reverent level.

The gig was all that was expected of the band and more! The band always give it 200% and ensure that they do not fail as being the most influential rock band in Ireland today.

Perhaps every young boy dreams of someday being in a rock group but few of us ever see the dream unfold into a successful carrier. The routine now is to go to school and stay there for a long as you can and go as far as you can up the "learning ladder" as this allows us to be "better off" at the end of the day. But nobody wants that though we persist and persevere and dare not slip off from this already set path which we feel obliged to take. For Glen Hansard, that was too easy. If anything he is to be envied as being one of the lucky people who knew their purpose in life from a very early age. I wish him all the very best and eagerly await the release of new material.

 

The Irish Times - August 20 1999

"The Frames, are tonight on the second concert of their three night stand at Whelan's. Gig of the day. Definitely. If they can reproduce the shimmering greatness of their current album, Dance The Devil, then this is going to be one to tell the grandchildren about."

Pádraig Collins

 

Irish Music Net - "I Am The Magic Hand"  February 1999

"Having paid their dues to raggle taggle and overblown rock, The Frames DC have at last found their niche - and in some style. This, a five-track taster of their forthcoming album, shows that the years of hard knocks have improved their songwriting immeasurably. With a stripped sound, low-key arrangements and all manner of vocal effects, they've produced a beguiling mix of breathless indie and gentle country. Their dusty Stetson epic, Song For Paul, is a delicious slice of off-kilter Americana, while the spaced out beauty of Turbit is something they could never have imagined let alone tried five years ago. Glorious."

Harry Guerin

 

All Music Guide - "Another Love Song"

"The Frames were signed to recording contract before they were really even a band. So, as one might expect, their debut album is a little uneven and scattered; they had yet to find their voice as a band, and at times they appear to be struggling to capture some of the grand, stadium-rocking bombast of U2. Even so, Another Love Song displays a raw energy and a potential that is undeniable, especially on songs like the album-opening "The Dancer" and "Masquerade." Elsewhere, on "Downhill From Here? and "Picture of Love," the band shows the kind of low-key, atmospheric vibe that would characterize later albums. Not the best place to start an exploration of this constantly evolving band -- that would be have to be For the Birds, released almost a decade later -- but worth checking out if it can be found (as of early 2002, Another Love Song remains out of print)."

Jason Nickey