Saturday, July 30, 2011

CD Review: England Keep My Bones

Title:  England Keep My Bones (Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk, AllMusic, Wikipedia)
Artist:  Frank Turner (Official, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace,, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

There are some records that just hit you from the first note and you can’t help but scream “this band could change the world.”  That’s the feeling I had the first time I heard U2, 7 Seconds, Minor Threat, the Dropkick Murphys, and the Hudson Falcons.  I got that feeling again listening to Frank Turner’s England Keep My Bones.  From the opening crescendo of “Eulogy” (which I want played at my funeral) to the closing gospel-like chorus of “Glory Hallelujah,” England Keep My Bones is an incredibly powerful album that brings elements of folk, pop, country, punk, and gospel together mixing them with such brilliance that it is hard to believe that these different genres aren’t combined this perfectly more often. 

England Keep My Bones is Turner’s fourth solo studio album.  Prior to slinging an acoustic guitar he was the lead singer of the post-hardcore act Million Dead.  Turner is one of a slew of punk artists who have taken to playing folk, country, and alt country in recent years.  He and Chuck Ragan are probably the biggest acts in this scene.  What I love about this movement (for lack of a better term) is the camaraderie and almost family like atmosphere to it.  In a lot of ways it reminds me of the pre-Nirvana underground scene, the accepting and familial environment that existed when punk and its descendants were still ignored by the mainstream.  (Editor’s note: At some point I plan on putting together a piece about the punk gone folk phenomenon, but in order to do it justice it might take some time.)  This welcoming and friendly attitude permeates through Turner’s music. 

Thematically England Keep My Bones deals with issues of individuality, freedom, perseverance, the power of music, and England.  You don’t have to be English or of English descent though to feel the pride and power that oozes out of the speakers (kind of like you don’t have to be from Boston to get pumped up by the Dropkick Murphys’ songs about their hometown).  These are some of the most powerful and inspiring songs that I have heard in a long time. 

For those who have never heard Frank Turner but are fans of Chuck Ragan, Austin Lucas, Tim Barry, or Drag the River then I highly suggest getting a copy of England Keep My Bones.  It is easily the best album of the year. 

Here’s a video for the opening track “Eulogy” and the lyrics to give you a taste of the entire record.
Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut,
not everyone was born to be a king,
not everyone can be Freddie Mercu-ry,
but everyone can raise their glass and sing.

I may not be the perfect kind of person,
I may not do what mum and dad dreamed,
but on the day I die, I'll say at least I fucking tried.
That's the only eulogy I need,
thats the only eulogy I need.

And here are the videos for the album’s two singles “I Still Believe” and “Peggy Sang the Blues.”

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