It seems to me that the lack of alternative music covered on this site is depressingly thin. Having grown up in a rock-loving community, where small alternative bands have thrived for years, this depresses me. And so, Alt. Corner is born. Every week I’ll be recommending an alternative rock band for you to listen to, ranging from the heavyweights of the underground scene to unsigned groups who are destined for something bigger. This week, I’ll be looking at…
The Horrible Crowes
I wouldn’t blame you for never having heard of The Horrible Crowes. Hell, I didn’t even hear about them until a year or so back, and even then I didn’t listen to them until even more recently. The Horrible Crowes are a two-piece alternative rock/soul group based in New Jersey, made up of singer and guitarist Brian Fallon and guitarist Ian Perkins. They have only released one album to date and they never tour. But do those names ring any bells? They should, as Brian Fallon is better-known as the front man of beloved New Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem, who seem to be blowing up left, right and centre these days. He is joined by long-time friend of The Gaslight Anthem Ian Perkins, and while Fallon has previously stated that The Horrible Crowes is his “for me” project, they certainly seem like they definitely could become hugely popular, if ever he dedicated the time to it that he does to his main project.
Fallon once stated in an interview that, when he was younger, he had a fantasy of getting up on stage and being Bruce Springsteen, and that The Gaslight Anthem was a realisation of that fantasy. Well, Fallon also had another fantasy – getting up on stage and being Tom Waits, and The Horrible Crowes is definitely a realisation of that fantasy. Their music carries the same darker, broodier, more soulful music that Waits is often associated with, and in the same way that The Gaslight Anthem is as much a modernisation of Springsteen as well as a tribute, the same can be said of The Horrible Crowes and Tom Waits.
Their debut (and, to date, their only) album ‘Elsie’ is a master class in songwriting. Fallon has always been one of my favourite songwriters and, like most artists who aren’t truly appreciated like they should be within their time, I’m sure that he’ll get the recognition that he truly deserves in the years that come. The variety of songs that Fallon and Perkins have managed to achieve, all while staying within their sphere of Waits-esque, downbeat melodies, is truly remarkable. From the hauntingly beautiful ballad-of-sorts ‘Sugar’, that drips with emotion with every note and every syllable, to the heavier, more Gaslight-esque ‘Mary Ann’, ‘Elsie’ capitalises on Fallon’s incredible ability to take what some might call ‘outdated’ and popularise it, and doing so ‘Elsie’ really is a timeless album, bringing together the best of the past and the present of music.
So for fans of Tom Waits, The Gaslight Anthem, or indeed music in general, ‘The Horrible Crowes’ are a (mostly) hidden gem. They are understated, under-appreciated, but overwhelming on all counts, and their lack of exposure should not deter you from giving them a listen.
Listen to: ‘Sugar’, ‘Mary Ann’.