There are showbiz kids and there are Rockers. It is extremely rare when the two are one in the same. Yorkshire, England's The Cribs are three brothers: vocalists/guitarist Ryan, bassist/vocalist Gary, and drummer Ross Jarmen. They made their debut at a family party in the '80s when nine year old twins Gary and Ryan shared the stage with five year old Ross.
Year's later, The Cribs worked with a pair of personal heroes, the Beat Happenings' vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Calvin Johnson and the outlandish indie singer Bobby Conn, a one-time self-proclaimed anti-Christ. Conn liked The Cribs and invited them to record at his Chicago studio. Three singles resulted. "Another Number," "What About Me," and "You Were Always The One" led to signing with Wichita Records in '03. The group traveled to London for their self-titled debut months later. Touring and a CMJ festival appearance preceded the '05 U.S. release of "The New Fellas."
When Death Cab For Cutie and Franz Ferdinand co-headlined an '06 North American tour, The Cribs were the opener. The next year, the Cribs' tune "Martell" was heard in a Telus, a Canadian telecommunications company, commercial.
The Cribs honed their skills in '07 by playing several low-key local venues in preparation for the release of "Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever."
The single "Men's Needs" was the group's first song to crack the U.K. Top 20, peaking at #17. Both NME (England) and Rolling Stone (U.S.) magazines listed the track among the year's best. At the '08 NME Awards The Cribs were nominated for Best British Band, Best Live Act, Best Track ("Men's Needs") and Hero Of The Year, but got completely shut out. Turns out they put on nice clothes for nothing.
Guitarist Johnny Marr joined The Cribs after playing with them on '08's NME Awards Tour. Marr's career went back to the early '80s when he founded The Smiths with Steven Patrick Morrissey. It was Marr's shimmering yet hypnotic guitar that drove that group's best known track, "How Soon Is Now?"
Two years earlier, Marr joined Modest Mouse for "We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank" which became the group's most successful effort to date.
Containing the single "Cheat On Me" The Cribs unfurled "Ignore The Ignorant" in September, '09. Marr was quoted saying it was the best thing he'd done in 25 years.
2004 The Cribs
2005 The New Fellas
2007 Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever
2009 Ignore The Ignorant
2012 In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull
2015 For All My Sisters
If you're looking for loose, put-down Rock in the style of the Vines or Libertines, The Cribs are a good choice. They are a tight, entertaining unit. Produced by Edwyn Collins, "The New Fellas" featuring songs "Hey Scenesters," "Mirror Kissers, "We Can No Longer Cheat You" and "The Wrong Way" comes down hard on those chasing the latest fad - whatever that may be - even if it's The Cribs. There's peculiar moral authority operating here. On "I'm Alright Me" they even manage to rhyme "leeches" and "Jesus." Is that the Conn influence?
Johnny Marr certainly has the knack. It's just funny that there was such a gap between The Smiths and Modest Mouse/The Cribs. Not only is Marr's guitar evocative of the '80s on "Ignore The Ignorant," Ryan Jarmen comes close to Morrissey via Chris Martin - sounds odd but it works. The Cribs bounce from Punk to Brit Pop but never really (fortunately) mix the two. But with this outing, The Cribs are certainly are more accessible.
Lead track "We Were Aborted," the title is enough to figure out where it's going (or coming from), is offset by the more melodic on "Cheat On Me" and "We Share The Same Skies." The sentimental "Last Year's Snow" is where The Cribs delve into Coldplay but there's no harm since the title track is a captivatingly jaunty Punk romp.