Los Angeles band Cranky George’s long-awaited debut album – Fat Lot Of Good – will be released October 14th 2016 in all formats (vinyl, CD, digital). This double LP embraces fourteen songs, individually divergent, but which together ply a course from haven, round horn and back to harbor, by means of lullaby, torch song, sea-shanty and murder ballad – an album which, with compassion, irony, humor and sometimes horror, tells stories of desire, love, loss, cruelty, ruination and pity.
Cranky George coalesced over a span of several years: James Fearnley, co- founder and accordionist for the London-Irish folk-punk band,The Pogues, and the Mulroney brothers, Kieran and Dermot, violin- and cello-playing siblings from a large, Irish-American family from Alexandria,VA, first came together as neighbors in Hollywood, California. In 1994, the three were founding members of the Los Angeles band,The Low and Sweet Orchestra, which fastened a string-and-accordion section to the traditional format of drums, bass, guitar and vocals, releasing in 1996 the acclaimed album Goodbye To All That on Interscope Records.
When the The Low and Sweet Orchestra split up, the Mulroneys and Fearnley formed in 2000 The Cranky George Trio, to record an E.P. of original material, augmented by mandolin, guitar and ukulele, and to play a series of live shows, incorporating foot- operated percussion and a hatbox bass drum. In time, the trio added Brad Wood on bass.After a couple of years,Sebastian SheehanVisconti was drafted in as stand-up percussionist.
While he is better known as an actor in his roles in such films as in My Best Friend’s Wedding, About Schmidt, The Grey and August: Osage County, Dermot is also an accomplished musician. As a cellist, he’s classically trained with many years’ experience in both the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra and in Academy Award-winner Michael Giachhino’s scoring orchestra in Hollywood. As a mandolin player and guitarist, he’s unrestrained, injecting mischief into each song with unsparing invention.
For more than thirty years, James has been The Pogues’ accordion player, multi-instrumentalist and string arranger, as well as a composer for film and theatre. On Fat Lot of Good can be heard James’s demoniacal dexterity on the accordion, his verve as a pianist, as well as the brutal constancy of his time keeping as a guitarist.
Like his brother Dermot, Kieran is a classically trained musician, specializing in four-stringed instruments – violin, ukuleles and tenor guitar.While
Dermot’s place is on the screen, Kieran’s is behind it – a screenwriter of wide repute, having written (and directed) the independent film Paperman and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. On Fat Lot Of Good, while Kieran’s violin is sensuous and liquid, his ukulele playing is watertight As a founding member of and lead vocal-arranger for Columbia University’s seminal a cappella group,The Kingsmen, his voice by turns pleading and excoriating.
All-round musician Brad Wood’s producing career began in 1988 as co- owner of the storied recording studio, Idful Music Corporation in Chicago’s Wicker Park, continuing with the establishment of Seagrass Studios in North Hollywood. In his career, Brad has been the producer of over a hundred records, including such artists as Ben Lee,Veruca Salt,The Bangles, Pete Yorn and Liz Phair. Brad’s bass playing plies a line between James Jamerson and Andy Fraser, while his hatbox bass drum is the pulsing heartbeat of the band.
Sebastian Sheehan Visconti is a sound designer and sound effects editor in the Los Angeles’ film industry, notably for television series such as The Muppets, The Flash and the upcoming The Mick, as well as a musician, drummer and percussionist whose sense of punctuation and dynamics is directly related to his skills as a sound editor.
As a perfect foil to the effervescence of the musicianship in Cranky George, the band’s blend of vocal harmonies, its cross-graining of voices – James’s chiselly drone, the honeyed timbre of Sebastian’s voice, Brad’s incisive falsetto, the Mulroney brothers’ baritones – Kieran’s urgent, Dermot’s lusty – is as sturdy as marine plywood.
Recorded over a span of five years at Brad’s Seagrass Studios, this limited edition of 450 double gatefold albums of heavyweight vinyl, each signed and numbered, tips music from the bucket that dredges the confluence of the Danube, the Shannon and the Missouri.