January 8, 2010
Codeine Velvet Club | “The Black Roses”
ART OF SONG
Codeine Velvet Club
“The Black Roses”
Codeine Velvet Club
Island Records (UK Release Only) | 2009
Oh hey, the guy from The Fratellis has a side project. Why should you care? I’m about to tell you why. Because it’s better than you or I actually would expect. And we’re discerning, I know. But you should know to trust me by now, have I led you astray? Exactly.
So The Fratellis didn’t really impress me, except for that music video. You know the one, the one with the pin-up girls in shades of brunette, blonde and redhead, who looked totally badass and awesome and expressed their inherent girl power while being fabulous. I liked that. I have a thing for pin-up. It appears Jon Lawler of The Fratellis had a thing for it too, because not only did he dedicate a music video to it, but he formed a side-project with Lou Hickey, a burlesque performer.
I gain more respect for the man as time goes on. The same cannot be said for The Fratellis. And that’s all I’m saying about The Fratellis, a sad tale about a band that can really only make one type of song.
You can tell that Lou Hickey, with her side of the creative process, was looking to write songs she could strip to (or burlesque to, if we really want to mince words, since burlesque and stripping are entirely different arts). Songs that were sexy and slightly dirty. Songs that conveyed the image of smoky clubs where men wore suit jackets and drowned their sorrows in big glasses of scotch while some pretty girl shook what her mother gave her, all the while keeping on her pasties and g-string. Because there was something called class back then. There was also rampant misogyny, but that’s a story for another day. Or fucking watch Mad Men, I don’t know.
Opening with some moderately ominous guitar noises before bringing in the percussion and some backing instrumentals, “The Black Roses” starts with Lawler. He’s got a pleasing, obviously Scottish voice, but, interestingly enough, this isn’t about him. While she only sings the chorus, Hickey steals this song. Coming in for the chorus, she tells him that “I’m really not inclined to be impressed by that.” Genius. I’m pulling that out the next time someone at a bar tells me about the fight they got into. Please. Either buy me a drink or get out of here.
It’s pretty ominous though, as Hickey is a grade-A Bad Ass Bitch. She’ll ruin your life, as evidenced by this:
“Someday soon when your black roses wither/ you’ll remember her and all the things you did together/ and I’ll be the one you see when you can’t turn back.”
Icy cold, right? She’s my type.
The saxophones pump up when Hickey sings, as if even the music is entranced by her seductive charm. The instrumentals on this song show dedication and money. As a person who hates when real instruments get played by a computer, the fact that there was a real brass section for this song and the entire album really gets me. I also hate electric violins. Not just because of Yellowcard, but ask me about that later.
“The Black Roses” is not really a song that teaches, or even tells you something you haven’t heard before. What it does do, however, and does quite well, is set the scene. You know exactly how you’re supposed to feel when you listen, and that’s a musician’s skill in its own right. Maybe Lawler can take some of that back to The Fratellis. Or maybe that’s a lost cause.
by allison levin