Posts Tagged The Charlatans

music review: The Charlatans



My heart belongs to several bands and artists but two bands will permanently possess a special spot: Jesus Jones and The Charlatans. I followed both bands in the 90s and befriended them as best one could without having sex with any band members. Kudos to singer Tim Burgess and bassist Martin Blunt for keeping The Charlatans going and the music flowing after the deaths of keyboardist Rob Collins in 1996 and drummer Jon Brookes in 2013. Different Days is the 13th album for The Charlatans, who formed in the late 80s.

For Different Days, core members Burgess, Blunt, guitarist Mark Collins and keyboard player Tony Rogers collaborated on this album with former Verve drummer Pete Salisbury, Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe, Johnny Marr [featured on several songs including the lead single ‘Plastic Machinery’], New Order’s Stephen Morris, Paul Weller [“Spinning Out”], as well as spoken word contributions from Ian Rankin and Kurt Wagner. The Charlatans have never really hit it big in the United States like other contemporaries such as Oasis and The Stone Roses. In 2015 Q Magazine gave the band a lifetime achievement award.

In many aspects over the years, the band has transitioned from Britpop to indie rock. On Different Days, a California vibe definitely seeps into these songs. There’s still swagger and a bit of Manchester as well. It’s overall pretty laid back, sunshiny and optimistic. There’s the pretty and soothing “Hey Sunrise” with its jangly guitar. On the contemplative and catchy (the brilliance of Tim Burgess’s writing) “Solutions,” grooving percussion and a deep bass line propel along with gentle keys propel the melody. It’s one of my favorites. Maybe because I’m looking for one. The songs “Plastic Machinery” and “Not Forgotten” feature more guitar than keyboards with fierceness and swaying beats. “Plastic Machinery” tackles fleeting popularity and superficial happiness. “Not Forgotten” approaches how we evolve and what we learn from relationships: “I’ve taken every opportunity. Tried to be everything you wanted me to be. So why do you have to talk like that?” This is a spectacular album. It pulls me back in and can easily be filed alongside 2001’s Wonderland or 2006‘s Simpatico in its overall sound.

RATING: 5/5*

The Charlatans
Different Days

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I’ll miss you Jon Brookes [drummer, The Charlatans]

found out sad news this morning that drummer Jon Brookes, 44, of one of my favorite 90s bands The Charlatans died from brain cancer today. I followed The Charlatans from D.C. to Montreal on several tours– 1992 and 1994– and got to know the guys as best one innocent 20-something could. There wasn’t any shagging or snogging but some fun drinking, partying and chit-chatting.

Jon Brookes and me, whereabouts unknown:

Jon Brookes and me 90s

me and Jon in New York:

with Jon NY


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thoughts on the demise of WFNX by a former intern

Heartbreaking news to hear that another radio station succumbs to a corporate takeover. It just can’t make enough money in this economy or in these changing times. As a journalist, I understand just how much the internet’s changed media and the public’s consumption of news and new products.

While a sophomore in high school, on my boom box in my bedroom, I heard my first song on WFNX: “Running Up That Hill,” by Kate Bush. The reception always proved challenging. I’d make mix tapes from the radio. Remember that Gen Xers? In 1986 I saw my first concert–General Public– at The Orpheum.

I spent 25 years listening to WFNX and discovered lots and lots of new music: Catherine Wheel, Rancid, Blur, The Charlatans, Lush, Ivy, Curve, R.E.M., General Public, The Cranberries, The Smiths, Fiona Apple, Joy Formidable, Mistle Thrush, Letter to Cleo, Trona, Orangutang, Naked and Famous, Big Audio Dynamite, Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, Foster the People, Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons, Garbage, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, The White Stripes and many more. Sure I have new and different sources to discover new music now but maybe I’m old-fashioned that I enjoy the radio format and listening to DJs chit-chat.

My strongest friendships and relationships will always be based firmly in alternative music. I realize that I have more Facebook friends connected to WFNX than to my high school [shout-out to Acton-Boxborough]. In college, my friends and I went to “X-Night” at Axis on Landsdowne Street every Saturday night to hear DJs spin WFNX-influenced club and dance tunes. I even ran into Donnie Wahlberg and Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block there one night. I met a guy there who I went on a few dates with. It was part of our collegiate routine as was the station along with MTV’s 120 Minutes.

While completing a graduate degree in print journalism at Boston University, I interned for then Music Director Laurie Gail [thanks again for early copy of IVY] at WFNX. Despite being a writer, I wanted to learn about the music industry directly and what better way then at my favorite radio station, WFNX. I wrote those A-Z FNX-files heard online– bios of bands. I pulled music for special themed weekends. I filed. I organized. I met lots of cool people– Neal Robert [“Amy, could you please step out for a minute I’m going on air.”], Liquid Todd [thanks for the writing tips], Jason Steeves, Angie C [sweetness], Henry Santoro, Julie Kramer [lots of good karma], Angelle Wood, Roubena Surenian, and tons of cool bands.

I’m a talented writer but if it weren’t for the internship and Laurie Gail I doubt I’d have gotten paid writing gigs for The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe [lasted four years–thanks again Steve Morse], The Weekly Dig, WBUR and now The L Magazine. I may not have become a staff member anywhere as I’d have liked or made the money I’d wanted but I still write about music and hopefully always will.

with Iain Baker of Jesus Jones in New Jersey [I gifted him the Red Sox hat]

Music is a major aspect of my life. Can be a deal-breaker in many cases. Country music or world music 24/7? Haven’t heard of some of my favorite bands. Don’t listen to music that music or think there’s a difference in genres? No thank you. At 42, I meet people daily who’ve never heard of the artists and bands I listen to and cherish. It amazes me. But I like it that I’m in that elite club of those with exquisite taste in music.

If it weren’t for WFNX, I’d never have followed Jesus Jones [I still remain friends with keyboardist Iain Baker] and The Charlatans on tour– from Washington, DC to Montreal. I’d never have dated silver-tongued [in every way] Jed Parish from The Gravel Pit. I’d not have hung out with Karen and Anne and Bridget. Or Trona, Cherry 2000 or Fuzzy. And I wouldn’t have hooked up with a guy at the Rancid show at Avalon, a guy at The Arctic Monkeys concert and a guy at The Cult. Plus there’s all those guys I made out with–PJ Olsson, who opened for Rufus Wainwright at TT the Bear’s and Bobby Schayer, then drummer for Bad Religion. Oh, and best kisser ever Jon Baird of Seventeen.

with Rob Collins of The Charlatans, 1992

As former Program Director Max Tokoff told Julie Kramer today (paraphrased) ‘WFNX listeners are above-average, more discerning, intelligent, willing to take risks . . .’ Today, I still listen to WFNX. Especially while driving. My publicity contacts have shifted to much more independent than before with smaller, lesser known acts. My tastes are a bit broader– I listen to NPR/WBUR and I like some alt-folk, alt-country acts but my favorites remain alternative such as Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, Joy Formidable, Keane, Gorillaz, Juliana Hatfield.

I’m an alterna-chick always and forever. #WeAreWFNX

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My 10 favorite CDs of 2010 [not in any particular order]

Charlotte Gainsbourg, IRM [Elektra/Asylum]

Arcade Fire, The Suburbs [Merge Records]

Thee Sgt Major III, The Idea Factory [Spark and Shine Records]

MGMT, Congratulations [Columbia]

The National, High Violet [4AD Records]

Gorillaz, Plastic Beach [Virgin Records]

Kate Nash, My Best Friend is You [Geffen Records]

The Radio Dept., Clinging to a Scheme [Labrador Sweden]

Broken Bells, Broken Bells [Sony]

Martina Topley Bird, Someplace Simple [Ipecac Recordings]

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The XX: Crystalised

The Charlatans: My Foolish Pride

Darren Hanlon: All These Things

Athlete: Superhuman Touch

She and Him: Thieves

Palmdale: Happiness has a Half-Life

Kings of Leon: Radioactive

Band of Horses: Laredo

The National: Bloodbuzz Ohio

Neon Trees: 1983

Vampire Weekend: Giving Up the Gun

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MUSIC: The Charlatans, Love is Ending (single)– new album WHO WE TOUCH & US/Canada TOUR in September

The Charlatans web site


US/Canada SEPTEMBER Tour Dates:

07 Atlanta, GA The Loft
08 Carrborro, NC Cat’s Cradle
09 Washington, DC Black Cat
10 Boston, MA Royale
11 Hoboken, NJ Maxwell’s
13 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
14 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
15 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda’s
16 Montreal, QC Cabaret Musee Juste Pour Rire
17 Toronto, ONT Lee’s Palace
18 Chicago, IL Double Door
20 San Francisco, CA Bimbo’s 365 Club
21 Costa Mesa, CA The Detroit Bar
22 Los Angeles CA El Rey Theatre


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