There seems to be a rare new breed of musicians appearing on the World music scene mixing the gentle world of folk with the much faster punk genre. Originally these bands were by and large coming out of America with Dropkick Murphy's and Flogging Molly but in 2007 the first British punk/folk acted released his debut album. I am of course talking about former Million Dead singer Frank Turner and his transition into a solo artist. Following the breakup of the band Turner decided his own musical career would continue as a solo artist and in 2007 he released this album, Sleep Is for the Weak.
I'd been aware of turner under his previous guise of the Million Dead however the release of solo material took me a little bit by surprise. It was a real change of direction from the hardcore punk approach from Million Dead to the far more relaxed and chilled out folk punk of Turner's solo material. The album itself was recorded in a studio in Oxford over a period of 2 months during 2006 and was finally released in January 2007 Xtra Mile recordings an independent record label based in London.
While the album itself wasn't released to a massive fan fair it was fair to say that the album was on the whole well received. The musical press in particular had a lot of good things to say about Turner's solo material. While the albums sound was a massive departure from the music Turner had become known for it works particularly well. His vocals really suit the slower melody and pace of the tracks on this album and like the American bands previously mentioned he really makes a genre that perhaps shouldn't work come alive.
A large amount of the album features Turner on an acoustic guitar and occasionally there is an extra beat of musical accompaniment from the drums or a piano. The combination of sounds creates a very relaxed tone to the album and really gives him an opportunity to create the sort of music he really wants to. This was never an album that would be an instant hit and I think he really appreciates that and it comes across in the music. If you take the time to listen to the album it will grow on you but apart from a couple of tracks don't expect it to be an instant love affair from the opening notes.
There is a very mature sound to Turner's vocals and the lyrical content of the tracks really plays a big part in that. In an interview he is quoted as saying the tracks reflect a year in his life. With a good personal involvement in his lyrics it puts some real feeling into his vocals and the combination of his voice with the acoustic guitar works very well. They really complement each other very well and give him a sound that is quite unique on the British scene at the moment.
This is a very solid album with a couple of real stand out tracks in "The Real Damage" and "Vital Signs". The only down side I would say would be the fact that there aren't really that many singles on this album and that is the reason it has taken Turner a little longer to get the radio play his music deserves. Of course that really isn't a bad thing and his unique combination of folk and punk works very well producing an excellent album. He manages to blend the slower melody of the folk genre and combine them particularly well where needed with the faster sound of the punk genre.
While I think it's fair to say that the genre doesn't sound like it should work, there is something about Turner's strong vocals that you can't help but like. He manages to blend two genres very well and the result is a debut album full of very good tracks. It isn't an album you'll love the minute you listen to it, but there is a nice blend of tracks that will keep you hooked on the album and keep you listening to the point where you love this album as much as I do now. What the future will hold for Frank Turner is still to be seen but with increasing airplay for his more recent material the signs are very good that this debut album has launched him on the way to being a huge success.
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Frank Turner - this album is the amazing debut album from Frank Turner, former Million Dead front man. I was a fan of Million dead and went to see them a few times which is where i'd heard of Frank Turner before. After I read they had split and Frank was to be doing some solo stuff I got straight on the interenet and eagerly awaited his first album. Now being a fan of Million Dead, this was not what I was expecting as they were a really fast, ferocious punk band that dominated the stage! I put it on and what I found was brilliant... the songs have so much depth and feeling and the lyrics are far more personal than I have heard from any other solo artist. Ever since, Frank Turner has become my favorite artists and having been to see him a few times he is also a genuinly nice bloke too!! I am very passionate about this album and all he has done since - you must buy this!!
One of the best things about going to gigs, is discovering new bands and artists that you would otherwise have never paid any attention to, this has happened to me a number of times, discovering bands like The Horrors when I saw the Fratellis but one time, seeing Biffy Clyro, I had this happen big time, I discovered someone who would shoot straight to the top in my books, aka. Mr. Frank Turner.
I saw him at the Junction with my friend, neither of us knew who Frank Turner was, and when he came on stage we assumed he was the guy tuning the guitars, that was until he said "Hello, I'm Frank Turner". Standing before us was then 25 year old Frank, with his trusty semi-acoustic guitar, a rather cool hat and a mind full of excellent songs. He captured the crowd with songs like "Thatcher Fucked the Kids", "Nashville Tennessee" and "Ballad of me and My Friends". For the first time ever, at the end of the gig I bought his first full length album, "Sleep is for the Week", browsed the track list and was disappointed to see that the first two songs above which I mentioned were not included.
I gave the CD a proper listening to the next night, and was instantly a Frank fan.
Frank was originally in a band called Million Dead which ran from around 2001 to 2005, but decided to pursue a different style of music from the more hardcore styling of Million Dead, and released the EP "Campfire Punkrock" in 2006, which contained the two tracks I had been searching for. This was followed by 'Sleep is for the Week' and another EP 'The Real Damage' in 2007. And in 2008 he released his latest album, 'Love, Ire and Song'.
What is it about Frank that is so great?
Frank transmits an obscene amount of passion behind all his songs, especially when you see him live. His lyrics are real, and tell stories or convey messages. It is real traditionalist folk music, brought up to date. I can't find anyone who compares to Frank, other than lyrically, his friend Chris T-T.
Frank is also really nice, he responds to e-mails you send him (I can't remember what they were about, but it was non-stalkerish I swear!) and always stays around after a gig to meet his fans, normally I end up leaving before I get a chance to say hello, but last time I managed to meet him ïÂS
The Real Damage
Powering straight in with a simple ballad, telling the tale of a weekend out - a story that probably everyone can relate to someway or another. While it isn't the best song from the album, I tend to have it on a lot when I have a hangover, mainly due
Pictures of Sleep Is For The Week - Frank Turner
Me and Frank - Cambridge 09
to the fact it isn't too heavy, but also because it makes me smile. Simple lyrics, with a somewhat jovial tone, although it does have a slight underlying message of "how many days are you going to waste?"
Well I started the night
with all my friends and I ended up alone,
I started out so happy now I'm hungover and down.
I stood on a street corner and I felt a little sick.
It was about then that I realized I was halfway
through the first day of the week.
One of the many songs about Frank's life, tackling the issue of being away all the time, and living a good life. Musically its slightly more lively, containing a soft drum beat behind the vocals, although personally, this is my least favourite track of the album.
And when I'm gone,
The worlds revolve, and life goes on,
So mark no grave,
Forget my name.
If the song remains
And everybody's got a drink and a smile,
Well, that's just fine by me.
Another simple song, led by Frank's guitar, about his love life, and not being able to find someone to stay with, this song is built on in the next album, with tracks such as 'Substitute'.
And I never know which song I should play her,
Each melody is a memory of a not-forgotten failure.
So when I get out my guitar tonight, to do what I do,
Remember: I probably didn't write this song for you.
Using the idea of writing songs, it suggests that his feelings have never been really fresh, "I never wrote a song for you", implies that maybe his feelings are burning out, and that each person he is with doesn't give him the freshness of the previous - and he 'can't write a song for them'.
A Decent Cup of Tea
The softest song on the album, Frank's voice slowly flowing over a picked notes on his guitar. I think it is about a girl he likes but doesn't see him in the same light, she is constantly going from 'bastard to bastard' and calling Frank to talk about it, Frank grows affection but doesn't dare tell her.
I see her in the nightclubs, I see her in the bars,
At rooftop after-parties, or crammed into friends' cars,
And we talk about the weather, and how she drowns her pain in drink,
And I nod and never ever dare to tell her what I think.
Lyrically I think the song is very good, and musically it is slow, and quite sad, definitely fits the times when you're in a bit of a mood, or just fancy listening to something quiet.
A more lively song now, tackling the feelings between him and his father. 'Fathers Day' is played live quite a bit by him, and is great for getting people to move a bit more, and is one of the first tracks on the album a bit of passion is stuck behind the words. There is a bit near the end, "na na na.." which the crowd always join in on, as the violin plays. This is one of my favourites from the album, and lyrically is very good.
What's the point in making vows that you're never going to keep?
A lifetime lying awake means you'll never get to sleep.
And all the promises you made, that were painful and untrue,
Of all the things you do they reflect worst on you.
Worst Things Happen at Sea
This was one of the songs that really drew me into Frank when I first saw him, since there is so much passion in it. Musically it has a bit of a sea feel, with a cello behind it, and some medium tempo picking of the guitar. The song tells the story of spitting up with someone, and how hard it is on him, although at the end he simply says "guess worse things happen at sea".
Well honestly, your honesty, it has emerged unscathed
And I hope you're doing fine, because me, I'm doing fucking great.
And I wouldn't want to waste another second of your time
I know my place, I know your face,
So you hide yours and Ill keep to mine.
Another of my favourites from the album, and an excellent one to see live.
My Kingdom for a Horse
Another song, telling of days spent with various girls, and nights of drink and drugs. Lyrically mediocre, likewise musically, not one of the strongest songs of the album, certainly easy to flick through.
And I'm trying to speak straight,
But I'm drunk and I'm lonely and you won't believe me,
And I'm trying to see straight,
But I've been up for days and it scares you away,
And I'm trying to keep straight,
But I'd trade it all for just five minutes more
Of your wandering hands with their simple demands that are
All the things I ever wanted, better than the powder and pills,
All the things I ever needed, the only thing that doesn't seem to kill,
That still makes me smile.
Back in the Day
Another faster paced song, with a sweet jangly sound behind it, makes you tap your feet. Lyrically about growing up, and Frank's love of Punk music, it is another song that Frank uses to unravel a great amount of passion behind live. It is by a fraction, the shortest song from the album too, which is a shame, since it is has the catchiest music behind it.
That little dream is over, it was never going to last
Everybody? moved along and it? all in the past
But when I was just 16 I pinned my colours to the mast
And punk rock's in the ink that's in my skin
The attitude in every song I sing
And we didn't change the world, we didn't win
We probably didn't even save my life, it's true
But I bet we had a better time than you
Once we were the Anarchists
For a long while, this was my favourite track, and I really liked the catchy chorus. Musically similar to many of the other songs, drums and guitar, no complications, lyrically speaking of old demonstrations and beliefs that you lose, or at least the passion of trying to change things, it's a really good song, and if you don't listen to any other songs from the album I would at least recommend this one.
I'm young enough to be all pissed off
But I'm old enough to be jaded
I'm of the age where I want things to change
But with age my hopes have faded
I'm young and bored of being young and bored
If I was old I could say I'm seen it all before
In short, I'm tired, and in short I'm probably fired
If the revolution doesn't want me I don't give a shit
A song in the similar vein to the above, the way that things change as you grow up, and you don't always end up making the decisions that you thought you would. It has just the guitar and Frank throughout, with a sweet taste of the passion he packs in.
And suddenly it's as clear as clear could be
I'm not quite the perfect man that I hoped I'd be.
And though I always tried to live an honest life,
To tell the truth I've told my share of lies.
The Ladies of London Town
More of a chart friendly song, and more reminiscent of the songs which he produces for 'Love Ire and Song', albeit not quite as good. Lively, and simple strumming of the guitar accompanied by some bass and drums.
The ladies of London town
Go flowing through these streets like water
Running little streams down to the river.
They wash the dirty ground, they sweep me off my feet,
But like an English summer; they'll soon be gone forever.
Must Try Harder
Similar to 'A Decent cup of Tea', with a soft drum beat, and spikes where the lyrics are more strongly sang. The song has a slow tempo, with long vowels (eg. nooooooooooot), while it isn't the strongest on the album it's defiantly not the worst.
Clothes unwashed and post unopened
Songs unfinished, vows now broken
Shame on me, I could be so much better than I am
The Ballad of me and My Friends
Recorded live in the Camden Barfly which gives the idea of what Frank live is all about. The song itself, is just him with his guitar, and the lyrics are sang boldly, and you can hear the passion in his voice so strong. A song about making it in the music business or life, and that it isn't about where you get, but how you get there.
But if you're all about the destination, then take a fucking flight.
We're going nowhere slowly, but we're seeing all the sights.
And we're definitely going to hell,
But we'll have all the best stories to tell.
It is a lot harder than I thought to review Frank's work. Admittedly, his albums are not as good as seeing him live, he just doesn't pack in quite the passion he does when he is performing, which is a shame, but I don't think any bands can do that. Frank writes brilliant songs, that are down to earth, and easy to relate to, the music is simple and not done to amaze but to entertain.
As an album, it is perhaps possible to consider it like a concept album, where although not about one specific theme, it is about one time in his life, and that is definitely felt when you move on to listening to his next album.
I sincerely recommend this album to anyone who likes folk music, be that modern stuff like Laura Marling, or older bits such as Neil Diamond or Bob Dylan. Frank has a clean sound, which you cannot tire of.
You can get it for £7.99 from hmv.co.uk - worth every penny.
Sleep Is for the Week is the debut album by Frank Turner, the former lead-singer of punk rock band Million Dead, and released on January 15th 2007 via Xtra Mile Recordings.
Those that know of Million Dead, or even those who don't, would know that the term 'punk' was just what they were - fast, distorted angst, but now frontman Frank has returned on his own in a style best suited as 'folk' with an acoustic guitar and a stunning ability for song-writing.
The 13 tracks on show never have a weak spot or show an achilles heel. In the opening track "The Real Damage" Frank sings about the experience of the morning after a heavy night before. Waking up somewhere you don't know, having no money left, and no idea where you're going...but realising that you're not the only person that's ever done it.
There's a sense of pessimism to his lyrics, for example this is an extract from the opening track:
"Suddenly it hit me I got paid this Friday last, and so I rifled through my pockets for some change. But all I found was a packet of broken cigarettes and a sinking sense of shame."
But the music sounds feel-good - fresh, sharp guitar strumming that makes you want to tap your feet and sing and chant along. Tracks like "Vital Signs", "Fathers Day" and "Ladies of London Town" support this idea, while there are times when he slows things down to make you take heed of his his message. Tracks such as "A Decent Cup Of Tea" and "Worse Things Happen At Sea" are prime examples of this...personally I go for the pacey material, but you have to fully appreciate the words of all his songs with a melancholic wonder.
In essence, his songs are about missed opportunities, drunken nights out - both good and bad - and sharing the best, and worst, times with those that matter. All summed up in the final song of the album, "The Ballad of Me And My Friends" that sounds superb from start to end, building up to a cressendo of the chorus - "And we're definitely going to hell, but we'll have all the best stories to tell." (the track is actually a live recording from a gig at the Camden Barfly on 8th August 2006)
Due to his lack of mainstream airtime, the vast majority of you will not know of him. Zane Lowe is a massive fan so expect him to edge further and further onto Radio One's playlist in the next couple of years. But with the writing ability to write a song that rhymes "holiday by the sea" and "Minor Threat discography" without anyone flinching is proof that the guy's got talent.
He's toured the country all this year, and played at a whole host of festivals including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds so many of you could have had the chance to see him but missed out...but looking at the way he does things, he won't be staying off the road for long!
If you think you're interested, check him out. Songs for recommendation off the album include "The Real Damage", "Once We Were Anarchists", "Vital Signs" and "The Ballad of Me & My Friends"...although having listened to the album so often in the past year, there is realistically no weak link.
Am I fan? You bet I am. Given a song, you will be too.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Real Damage
2 Vital Signs
3 Romantic Fatigue
4 Decent Cup Of Tea
5 Father's Day
6 Worse Things Happen At Sea
7 My Kingdom For A Horse
8 Back In The Day
9 Once We Were Anarchists
10 Wisdom Teeth
11 Ladies Of London Town
12 Must Try Harder
13 Ballad Of Me And My Friends