Cranes
Cranes


3.5
great

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
November 10th, 2008 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The transformation from alternative rock band to ambient mood music is complete.

I love being a hardcore music fan and always have. There are probably hundreds of thousands of bands out there just waiting to be stumbled across, and because of the internet, it doesn’t take any effort to do so. Even more exciting than that is the level of experimentation and genre blending that exists today. I’m almost willing to bet that if you can think of any two genres, there is some band that is actively trying to unify them in some sort of working manner. One such band trying to carve their own niche with a little bit of genre blending is the Cranes with their combination of ambient electronics and mellow alternative rock.

For those that have been following this band you’ll know that they have gone through a few musical identities in their twenty-year career, but none of those identities have any bearing here. When bands release self-titled albums late in their history it is usually to symbolize a new musical beginning and that is exactly what we’re presented with again. Beginning with 2001’s Future Songs the Cranes started to mix electronics with their mellow alternative rock, and this album is the full realization of that direction. Almost all of the music is now based on strange, soothing synth melodies that are often unaccompanied by a beat of any kind. If you were to imagine the lighter, less oppressive side of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works combined with female vocals you would have a good idea of what to expect.

What you probably wouldn’t expect is what those female vocals actually sound like. Vocalist, Alison Shaw, has the most child-like voice I’ve ever heard from a full-grown woman. Her vocals are so soft and delicate that they almost float over the synth loops and strange ambient noises. Sometimes her voice actually becomes so soothing that it just blends in with the rest of the music. This vocal trait doesn’t allow for a lot of truly memorable moments throughout the album, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. One of the more instantly memorable songs is the ethereal, “Panorama”. “Panorama” is able to separate itself from the majority of the album by containing one of the few recognizable choruses and is delivered entirely in French over a bed of lush electronics and a simple, organic beat; but these standout moments are few and far between.

There are very few of these moments because this isn’t an album of choruses or prominent musical hooks, it’s an album focused on a dreamy mood. Due to the mood that’s being created, there is very little that is going to instantly catch someone’s ear or remain with them after the music has faded away. This isn’t a flaw in the album or in the song writing because it’s obvious that this was intentional, but it does make the first few listens a little uninteresting. The very structure of the songs makes this entirely unavoidable, but it really becomes a non-issue with a little bit of attention and repetition. Once enough repetition is achieved, the lush electronics, subtle acoustics, and delicate vocals of Alison will begin to shine the way that they were intended. Only then will songs such as “Feathers” really begin to impact the listener with its meandering (in a good way) synth melody, shoegaze guitar sound, and peaceful vocals.

The Cranes have done a lot in their career and this is surprisingly the most challenging direction so far. The music almost comes off as formless as its subtle melodies float out of the speakers. The delicate vocals of Alison Shaw only serve to compliment this dreamlike feeling, but much like a dream it’s easily forgettable with lack of attention. This album is going to require listeners that are willing to give multiple listens and that don’t mind having to be the one following the music, because this music isn’t here to instantly hook them. For those types of people, the Cranes self-titled album is a thoroughly enjoyable listen that will allow them to drift with the music as it seemingly takes them nowhere in particular.



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user ratings (9)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
November 10th 2008


16019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Those of you that have only heard the other album of their's that I reviewed would be in for a real surprise. This isn't scary in the least, and although her voice sounds the same its affect is totally different here.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

Athom
Staff Reviewer
November 10th 2008


17215 Comments


I'll be checking this out. Its always interesting to see how bands evolve.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

jrowa001
November 10th 2008


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ill def be looking this up, since the other Cranes album you reviewed was amazing. excellent review

DethThrasher
November 10th 2008


462 Comments


Ben Baxter is my tutor in college

Willie
Moderator
November 10th 2008


16019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, if he had anything to do with the creation of this album then tell him "good damn job"!
... and if you've failed to check these guys out, start with "Wings of Joy" then try "Loved".

Bleak123
November 10th 2008


1902 Comments


I don't think this would be DethThrasher's cup of tea ...it's not metal enough. But good review wille, I'll have to check this out as "Wings of Joy" was crazy good.

DethThrasher
November 10th 2008


462 Comments


Good ol stereotypes

Willie
Moderator
November 10th 2008


16019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hey, it wasn't me. I reccomended a few albums regardless of your screen name. I mean, if your tutor is the bass player in a long running band you might as well check them out.

Edit: You might also want to check out his other band called Carmen Rosa. He's the vocalist and main song writer in that band. Here is there Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/carmenrosamusicThis Message Edited On 11.10.08

Bleak123
November 10th 2008


1902 Comments


I was going by rating and previous comments I've read from him is all. I just don't think this would be his thing. Sorry

DethThrasher
November 10th 2008


462 Comments


Yea i know it wasn't you :P I've checked some stuff out before some of its great i just not really my thing and haha thanks a lot man he actually performed some of this to us..and johnny calender he was my recording teacher last year XD

Also Ben just got back off tour and he said it was a disaster and it might be over for the band (cranes)

Bleak123
November 10th 2008


1902 Comments


^^ and i was right.

Willie
Moderator
November 10th 2008


16019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also Ben just got back off tour and he said it was a disaster and it might be over for the band (cranes)
They've been going for too long to quit. Plus, it takes these guys years to release albums so it will all be forgotten by then ;)
and i was right.
Yeah, well I assumed the same thing, but when the guy is your tutor you might as well look into it anyway.This Message Edited On 11.10.08

Bleak123
November 10th 2008


1902 Comments


haha, I didn't mean he shouldn't listen to it I just suggested he wouldn't like it.

DethThrasher
November 10th 2008


462 Comments


Well the "its not metal enough" was teh lolols

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
November 10th 2008


20857 Comments


Doesn’t sound like my kind of thing, but this was a super review Willie.
Haha, I actually thought they had taken away my voting button there for a moment. LOL.


rasputin
November 10th 2008


14546 Comments


Good review Willie. I really enjoyed Wings of Joy, but a lot of that was due to the dark mood it had.

handoman
November 10th 2008


2386 Comments


I finally checked out wings of joy and liked it, so I'll check this one out. Good review.

Willie
Moderator
November 10th 2008


16019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks everyone, and yeah, Rasputin, you wouldn't like this one at all.

taylormemer
November 10th 2008


4917 Comments


Sort of a completely different genre, but if you enjoy acoustic pop-rock, I think you'd like Bic Runga's first album. I reviewed that, and she to me has a sense of child-like vocalisation. Haven't heard this, so I can't really compare the vocals, but yeah.

Willie
Moderator
November 10th 2008


16019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

but if you enjoy acoustic pop-rock, I think you'd like Bic Runga's first album.
I do like acoustic rock so I'll check out the review and possibly that album afterwards.



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