by Mike Evans



THE FRATELLIS — We Need Medicine
THE GOOD: Scottish indie pop trio Fratellis are back with their first album in five years.
THE BAD: Fratellis were never a great band. The best you could always hope for was some extremely infectious ear candy and a set list where the catchy tunes outweighed the duds.
THE NITTY GRITTY: On that front, Medicine delivers. Here we have 11 bits (at least seven are oh-so-sweet) of guitar-driven pop/rock boasting mostly forgettable lyrics but solid riffs and melodies. Songs like “This Old Ghost Town” and “Jeannie Nitro” are goofy at their core, but the tunes themselves get a firm grip on your grey matter and are damn near impossible to dislodge.
With these guys, that’s all pretty standard. If they set your toes-a-tappin’ or paste a big dorky smile on your face, Fratellis have done their job. Medicine heartily satisfies with the musical equivalent of all those tasty empty calories packed inside a Snickers bar.
BUY IT?: Your call.

THE GOOD: California singer/songwriter Kelly Stoltz comes back with more heavily retro goodness.
THE BAD: A couple of weaker tracks, but no real gripes.
THE NITTY GRITTY: After a four-album stint on Sub Pop, Stoltz has relocated to Jack White’s Third Man Records, but the vibe remains the same. The man has been compared to legends like Leonard Cohen and Brian Wilson, but Stoltz would probably prefer being lumped in with the first incarnation of Echo and the Bunnymen.
Listen to Exposure and you’ll find that all of those comparisons are justified; the record a mish-mash of engaging styles. “Are You My Love” is hazy garage rock. “Marcy” and “Down by the Sea” are more melodic, almost orchestral, and those vintage mellotrons remind you exactly where this guy’s head is at. The extended jam “Inside My Head” blurs the line between the end of psychedelia and the beginning of prog rock.
BUY IT?: Sure. Double Exposure should satisfy both long-time enthusiasts and newbies alike.

THE GOOD: British indie party people Los Campesinos release their fifth.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Just when you think they’re “maturing,” frontman Gareth (they’re all named “Campesinos” just like the Ramones were all “Ramones”) and his crew rip up the house again. One spin of “Avocado, Baby” and you know they’re out for blood (or at least out to make you flail about the room with wild abandon).
Twee (don’t call them that!) meets post-punk. Garage rock gets pissed on Guinness. Toss in Gareth’s endless rants towards his exes and a bunch of obscure UK soccer references and the picture is complete. They may never be more than a cult band here in the States (too damn British), but these lads and ladies deserve to be huge. No Blues is noisy, exciting and brimming with an energetic abandon that truly great rock records possess. This stuff could explode at any moment. Yet the band is too focused to let that happen.
BUY IT?: Yep.