Frightened Rabbit: The Winter of Mixed Drinks

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Artist: Frightened Rabbit

Title: The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Release date: March 9
Label: Fat Cat

Is Frightened Rabbit the next U2? If they're not, it's not for lack of trying. Like early U2, this Scottish band is quite adept at making a lot out of very little. That is to say, they have a minimalist approach to songwriting but somehow turn the tunes into dramatic musical statements. 

Oh, and the singer, Scott Hutchison, sounds a little bit like a young Bono. They boast the same kind of mournful but hopeful wail, but Hutchison sounds more vulnerable than Bono ever did. I hope the guy's okay because he sings a lot about graves and digging holes.

Actually, I think Hutchison's lyrics deal with going somewhere to tackle an obsession with his own mortality and, then, once coming to grips with the reality of death, returning to a more hopeful outlook. On "Yes, It Would," he sings, "You told me to get lost to find myself / And first it bleeds, then it scabs / I feel like I've been filling up / Ooooh change if you can't be bound / Oh oh yes, I would." And on "The Wrestle," he sings "This is the test I left land for / To grip flesh and hold pull muscle in / The vice clinch of the struggle I can't / Give in to the weight of the clothesless wrestle with the clothesless animal."

The music supports Hutchison in his rebirth, with simple songs that often center on repetitive chord changes that build into exultant, swirling climaxes. It's all very dramatic. I could easily envision this band breaking out of the indie-sphere and into the big time. Maybe take over Coldplay's spot as the heir to the U2 throne. That wouldn't be so bad, would it?

Note: Frightened Rabbit is scheduled to perform Monday, April 19, at the Clubhouse in Tempe.

Best song: "Nothing Like You." Just when the records needs an up-tempo three-minute of pop gold, it arrives in the form of "Nothing Like You."
Rotation: Medium-heavy
Deja vu: A Big Country video.
I'd rather listen to: The new Harlan T. Bobo record on Goner, which I don't have yet. Can anyone help me out with that one?
Grade: B+

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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