Go Go is available via:
Blues, Blues Rock, Indie.
This Yorkshire outfit source their band moniker from one of The Beatles’ finest cuts: CryBabyCry are raucous, rampant Bonnie and Clyde-toppers. With influences of The Black Keys and Nancy Sinatra, the ambitious trio are guaranteed never to say “Can you take me back where I came from?”
TODAY, I am re-investigating musicians that I am quite familiar with.
Having been doing this gig for quite a while, I have been fortunate to come across some of this country’s finest and busiest acts: many of whom originate from Yorkshire. It has been a little while since I mentioned this fine land, so it is good to return: today’s subjects are causing excited stirrings throughout the county. I am not sure how Yorkshire keeps producing so much top-notch talent: perhaps it is the air or lifestyle; the friendliness and support of fellow musicians, perhaps? A lot of current emigration is seeing musicians flock to London: the lure and history of the city’s bright lights is tempting musicians into its warm ensconcement. It is understand that so many are seduced by the capital: the contacts, capital and opportunities are all there- I wonder whether too many are abandoning home and hearth too prematurely. With regards to Yorkshire music elite- Jen Armstrong, Annie Drury, Shiftin’ Shade etc.- there is a rich variation and amount of splendour being produced: in terms of range and quality, Yorkshire is leading the U.K.’s musical charge. As well as a great deal of home comfort, Yorkshire seems to be inspiring the creative minds- as do the big cities such as Manchester and Liverpool. I guess it is a natural cycle: at a certain stage you will find yourself in London- that is where the biggest audiences call home. Those that are brave and loyal enough to stay planted, are reaping rewards- aa many of my recent reviews have shown. Crybabycry is not only a striking band name- and it is one of The Beatles’ best late-career tracks- but the foundations of huge potential stars. Being a fan of Jonny Firth and Rosie Doonan, I am already familiar with two-thirds of the band’s outfit. The third member of the trio is Nici Todd: a stunning and heartbreaking drummer that is amongst the finest percussionists in the north. I am sure that we will be hearing a lot more from Todd in the future- as part of CryBabyCry and other acts- and I know from Facebook (being one of her acolytes) that she is as good-humoured and dedicated (to music) as they come- meaning she will have a long career in the industry. Jonny Firth is Yorkshire equivalent of Jack White: a one-man army of song, he is one of the busiest musicians in the world. As a solo artist, I was lucky enough to review him last year: I found that his White Stripes Blues-cum-gritty Rock was amongst the most startling and invigorating music of the moment. Showcasing himself as not only a world-class songwriter- as well as a stunning guitarist- Firth laid out his songbook: those which were packed with fascinating characters, witty love songs and tender emotion. Fast-forward a year-or-so, and Firth has parlayed his talents into his new act, Knuckle: along with Ben Wallbanks, the duo are a hot-as-hell duo that have already played some rather high-profile gigs. Knuckle’s track Living Hell is a blazing and glorious slab of Blues Rock- it will be exciting to see if the boys have a future E.P./L.P. in mind. Like Jack White, Firth has a third string (and fond love): CryBabyCry. The group have been noted for their spellbinding performance and natural tightness: marked down due to the strong friendship and understanding between the trio. With Todd’s crackling and driving percussion work, as well as Firth’s encapsulating vox/guitar work, there is another psychotropic ingredient in the pot: Rosie Doonan. Like Firth, I have been fortunate enough to review Doonan on more than one occasion- and with equally stunning after-effects. My first exposure to Doonan was as the lead of Rose and the Howling North: a Yorkshire clan whose Cuckoo album mixed Blues, Soul, Rock and Folk Pop. That album is still on my stereo (over a year after its release) and is a nuanced and fascinating work: its title track is a dark and sing along gem; elsewhere gorgeously still vocals marry alongside late-night firecrackers. Doonan’s voice seemed limitless and chameleon-like: capable of swooning, sweeping, striking, shouting and seducing, it remains one of the finest examples in music. Her incredible songwriting range was emphasised in another form: Cissie Redgwick. Presenting Electro-Swing classics, Redgwick’s music put you in mind of the Andrews Sisters and Swing greats- the sound was updated for the ’00s and instilled with modern life relevance. Given all of this information and back story, I could not wait to investigate CryBabyCry: an act that promise so much without a single note being played.
Being a brand-new act, there is no previous body of work to compare (their new material to). Their sound has similarities with Doonan and Firth’s other ventures: Knuckle and Firth’s U.S. Blues stylings- as well as Black Keys embers- pair beautifully with Doonan’s rebellious and strong-hearted heroine- blended together, the trio’s music sounds at once alive and original, as well as vintage and familiar. There are quite a few acts around that walk similar lines (in terms of sound), yet none do it quite the same as the Yorkshire three-piece: the combined musicianship and voices of the trio result in something quite fresh and urgent. Too many modern acts fail to utilise past masters and current-day sounds effectively- CryBabyCry have concocted a heady and hypnotic brew. Their initial offerings not only suggest a long and fruitful recording career, but suggest what a future album will consist of: variation a-plenty as well as plenty of action, drama, love and alcohol-fuelled swagger. The perfect antidote to the music menopause of (much of) the mainstream, the Wakefield lovelies offer a perfect storm: a sound that is alive and attune with the sounds of 2014 Rock, but shows the rich heritage of ’60s and ’70s Blues and Pop.
Anyone that has Nancy Sinatra in their record collection will hear some lineage in Doonan’s voice. Across Cuckoo (as well as tracks such as Gimme That Swing), our heroine gives off the same sort of smoky temptation as Sinatra; that power and stop-still beauty comes through in her voice- yet Doonan keeps her native northern tones fully in tact. In the same way that Sinatra employed theatrical strings and woozy shadows, so do CryBabyCry: their boots are made for stomping. The likes of The Black Keys and Jack White are dominating chart possession and fandom: if U.S. Blues Rock is your bag, then the Wakefield trio will spike your interest.
A galloping and playful intro. kicks Go Go into life. The guitars and drums elicit a five-beat kick (interspersed on the first round by Doonan’s sexy and breathy “oh“). The rearing and raring stallion increases in pace: the sonic chant gains confidence and speed- as the pace quickens, so too does its catchy vibe- you find yourself humming along to it; tapping your feet as you do. Propelled and set-up by the kick-ass composition, Doonan sway to the mic. Her voice- in the early moments- is calmed and precise: there is a matter-of-fact quality that makes sure there is no ambiguity or doubt. It appears that a no-good sweetheart is messing her around; her initial line of enquiry sees her putting her man on the spot (“What you gonna say?/What you gonna do?”). Doonan is in no mood to wait: whether imploring her boy to make a move- or asking him to make his mind up in general- one thing is clear: “I won’t hang around for you.” Doonan’s phrasing and unique delivery caught my ear on Cuckoo (particularly tracks such as Cuckoo, Cherry Ride and All These Years). On Go Go, that flair and idiosyncrasy is back in full force: she teases and tempts lines; some are given rapid-fire delivery- some are twisted around her tongue like a viper. You can almost see Doonan winking through the speakers: there is a cheekiness and smile to her tones; she knows what she wants and is in control- putting her beau under pressure into the bargain. Underpinning lines about her love’s prowess (he is the only one that makes her scream) are punchy and chugging guitar parables (they mix the force and funk of Michael Jackson’s Bad/Dangerous era as well as The Black Keys at their Turn Blue best). Those expecting Doonan to remain in the (vocal) limelight are put in their place: Firth arrives into the fray. Our hero’s voice is smooth and come-hither. Firth is on fire and feeling fine: offering reassurance to Doonan, he professes: “This love won’t ever tire“. Firth’s introduction is a great juxtaposition: whereas Doonan’s pronunciation was full of twists and turns; Firth’s is more straight-laced and direct- perhaps acting as metaphors for their intentions and methods of seduction. The two leads play beautifully off of one another. There have been many charming and cheeky musical by-plays (including The White Stripes’ It’s True That We Love One Another): this one has plenty of northern soul. Firth admits that he is fallible and makes mistakes- he is going to do what he’s going to do- yet you sense some regret and retreat. Todd’s percussion adds an incredible amount of emotion and force: at times the earthquake rumbles bring proceedings to an almost impalpable sense of sweat and strain. Firth and Doonan duet their voices briefly (imploring one another to show some diligence and respect): before long that infectious and grumbling guitar coda breaks the tension. Incapable of separation, the duo hatch a plan: they are going to take a ride- whether one of a vehicular or sexual nature I am not sure (I suspect the former)- and get away from the hurly-burly of their lives. Not to be outdone or ride in the back seat, Todd’s drumming provides a sense of mobility and itinerary- it becomes more pugnacious and dominant past the half-way marker and drives the track forward. Both parties admit that they have faults: they are made the way they are but are determined to find some common ground. As the track switches into top gear, proceedings become fuzzier and more delirious: the vocals are dripping in reverb and distortion (giving them electricity and urgency); the guitars buzz and are coated in Blues/Garage Rock authority. As Todd’s continues a percussive assault on the senses, our dislocated sweethearts ponder life: during the chorus they ask “Where we gonna go go go?/Where we gonna be?” The final 30 seconds consist of resolution, cliffhangers and aural attack. Guitars and percussion clash and endeavour; our love-wracked twosome makes attempts towards mediation and mutual indemnification: by the final seconds you wonder whether Doonan and Firth found compromise and satisfaction.
Go Go is a splendidly produced slice of Blues Rock: a track that needs a few listens for its potency and potential to grab you fully. It is a song that is instantaneous and nuanced: raw energy and honest mean it can be easily understood; deeper layers implore repeated listens and investigation. There is a huge amount of concision, confidence and sing along catchiness to the track- few songs this year have made me smile as broadly. When it comes to the composition (and its riffs, jolts and sensations), there are components of The Black Keys, Kasabian and Kings of Leon: U.S. and U.K. influences sit alongside one another to produce a compelling and well-considered sound. The guitar work is fascinating and impressive throughout- full-out force and delicate intricacy pair together effectively. In order for the track’s capricious and two-sides-of-the-story pertinence to take full effect, the guitar work needs to be like-minded and up to the task- which it very much is. Blues and Indie tones of the ’90s-’00s mutate into ’70s Pop/Soul sounds- dark and rumbling marries with lighter and more effusive soulfulness. Todd’s percussion is acts a third-party; watching proceedings, she is a musical relationship counsellor: she supports her clients, but also adds a little candour and fuel into the fire. Percussion is sometimes overlooked (when reviewing a track), but here it is hard to ignore: the power and polymerisation adds huge emotion and excitement; the temporized and measured drive moves the story as well as steadies the rocking ship. It is the chemistry and bond the trio share, that makes Go Go so immediate and thrilling. The performance is tight and professional- there are playful edges and free-spirited experimentation too- which means the song’s themes and words are given full consideration. The production values on the track deserve mention: it is raw and sparse, yet clear and concise enough for all the words to be understood and grasped- many acts overlook the importance of great production. Go Go’s rare and impressive two-hander sports a memorable set of lyrics: at once open-hearted and vulnerable; the next rebellious and intent. Doonan and Firth’s diverse vocals blend surprisingly well- their individualised styles and projections come together splendidly and effortlessly well.
The next couple of weeks are going to be big ones for CryBabyCry. The trio is playing Hackney on Saturday, and after that a bigger date looms: the Futuresounds Competition 2014. On June 28th, our intrepid threesome vie for a place at the Leeds Festival. The group will be bidding for votes and support (in order to win that illustrious spot), yet it seems like they have done the hard graft: their sound and confidence seems ready-made for the festival circuit- they will be playing many more in future years. There is ample star quality in the camp at the moment: the guys are loving what they are doing and determined to keep their momentum going strong. Having assessed Doonan and Firth already, I know just what they are capable of: CryBabyCry’s music (and Go Go) shows that at the top of their creative power. Todd fits seamlessly aside the duo; adds pulp, passion and palpitation: it will be fascinating to see her in the live arena. Most bands would employ circumspect before putting themselves into the public domain: CryBabyCry need not worry; their sounds and urgency are going to see them go places (both in the U.K. and abroad). Knowing the work rate and output of the band’s players, I suspect that they already are plotting a future disc: either an E.P. or full-length album. That will be a mouth-watering prospect: the trio have acres of ammunition and potential- seeing it extended over the course or ten or eleven tracks seems like an imminent possibility. The market is crowded and busy at the moment, so I hope that the three participants devote as much time as possible to the cause as possible. Firth has Knuckle commitments; Doonan has other irons in the fire too: CryBabyCry have a terrific sound, so I hope that the band has high hopes and big plans. The rest of this year will be dedicated to festival campaigning and electioneering; new material will be percolating- live gigs will be near the top of the agenda. With Yorkshire producing so many phenomenal musicians, it is no surprise that Firth, Doonan and Todd have produced such a wonderful track: there is quality and consistency here that is almost unheard of elsewhere. In the wider music realm there are not too many notable and distinct trios working away: it is an uncommon dynamic that results in few examples obtaining long-term glory. In that sense, CryBabyCry have an advantage: they not only possess a rare genetic make-up, yet have the strength to make some big waves. Eager eyes will be casting themselves in the trio’s direction in the coming weeks: big opportunities are up for grabs; the Wakefield band will want to grab them. I wish them the best of luck (something tells me they will be okay) and hope that they get everything they set out to achieve. Go Go is a bold and memorable step in the right direction…
LET’s hope for many more.
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