Frat pack

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

When the Fratellis released their debut CD, Costello Music, in the United States last year, plenty of predictions followed that this would be the next U.K. band to make a big splash in the States.

The album was already a bona-fide hit in Britain, and just ahead of the CD's release, the lead single "Flathead" was featured in a commercial for Apple's iPod.

But Costello Music never gained much traction commercially. "Flathead" stalled out well shy of the top 20, and the buzz that had once been so loud had faded by fall 2007.

Now the Scottish band is back with a second album, Here We Stand, and a five-week U.S. tour that represents the longest continuous stretch of shows the group has played here. The tour primarily visits large clubs, not the much larger venues that the Fratellis play in the U.K.

But Jon Fratelli, singer/guitarist and chief songwriter for the band, says he isn't disappointed that the band hasn't made a bigger splash in the States.

"[I read about] bands that are from the U.K. that come here and they've never been featured on an American tour and they play 200- and 300-seat clubs," he said in a phone interview.

"I'm really sort of proud and pleased that we are where we are in America because it's got a lot of music and it's got a lot of bands, and it doesn't necessarily need us."

In reality, America can definitely use a band like the Fratellis. Costello Music was a refreshing collection of spirited Brit-pop highlighted by the super-sized anthem "Chelsea Dagger" and sing-alongable ditties like "Vince The Loveable Stoner."

Here We Stand is more conventional, and lacks some of the madcap feel of the previous album. Still, the new CD has its share of rockers with smart pop hooks and ear-grabbing choruses ("My Friend John," "Mistress Mabel" and "Shameless").

And especially toward the end of Here We Stand, the Fratellis show a willingness to push the stylistic envelope. The band combines a bit of country-ish crooning with slamming glam rock on "Acid Jazz Singer," and some Beatles-esque rock on "Lupe Brown."

The Fratellis' fall tour should find the band capturing the fatter sound of Here We Stand. The band, which formed in 2005 in Glasgow, has expanded from its core lineup of Jon Fratelli, bassist Barry Fratelli and drummer Mince Fratelli (yes, they do the Ramones thing with their names) to include a touring keyboardist/guitarist.

"There are too many good songs on the new album that we just couldn't do live without piano," Fratelli said. "It's actually been really great to have somebody new to play with."

The Fratellis

Tuesday, Sept. 9

Newport Music Hall, Campus