Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
We were walking back up the three flights of steps of the Horseshack back in the spring, climbing them with The Courteeners lead singer Liam Fray, returning to the live room from the English band's bus following the taping and he was animated and colorful. In an accent he mentioned how the recordings that his band had just done, on an off day on the Morrissey tour that they were on at the time, pissed all over every other live recording they've done. We took it as the highest form of compliment. We agree, even without hearing all of their other live recordings, if only because they sound so full and so alive on these four songs, showcasing all of the bad ass attributes that have led that man - Morrissey - to praise the group in interviews, almost recklessly, and to back the words up by bringing them out on the road with them in America. Fray spouts off, howling like a loony and a wolf on "Kings of the New Road," following along with a bumpy and jingly high-speed chase of drums and guitars that's essentially just an out-of-control band of brothers shaking themselves dry, getting worked up and letting it all flame. It's a song that's on the lam, it's out there and it's eluding the law, the Johnny Law, the bad guys. It's just flying across the rural routes and zooming through tiny blips on the map, covering the miles in whatever the quickest way possible is. It's a hot song, one that you would have to negotiate with a shady gentleman around the corner to secure for your own. Many of the songs on the band's debut full-length, "St. Jude," contain that sort of menacing, slightly dangerous tint that maybe isn't really about danger at all, but rather an uncertainty that presides. The song "Not Nineteen Forever," is nearly like a wake-up call for someone who is conflicted by what they can or cannot get away with, not grasping that they have moved beyond the wild abandonment of youth. It's an age that already places someone in the adult setting of college life, but it's still young enough to allow for irresponsibility in ways. We hear about a guy touching a girl's thigh and if we're not mistaken, that move wasn't taken too kindly. It was a fresh sort of move that was quickly brushed away as something that could no longer be done, expecting to get the same kind of results. It's a "grow up dickhead" sort of song that insinuates that there need to be new rules here - we're not kids any longer. This goes on through the album, where there are those moments of sublime realization that these things that we used to do are no longer allowed, or the context has just changed dramatically. "That Kiss," a song that the band released as a stand-alone song between "St. Jude" and the next long player, which the band is currently mixing, is a big sounding ballad that evokes spacious skies and fantastically open roads and it features both the shame and elation of an illicit kiss, along with Fray sings, "I know I shouldn't but I enjoyed it," and it might be the last moment of a young man as he leaves all the rest of those careless joys and whims behind for something totally different.
The Courteeners Official Site