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Music Review: Frightened Rabbits scare up a good album

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Mark Vidal
Editorial Director

It is comforting to know that if Arcade Fire ever splits up and takes its beautiful music with them, we will now have “The Winter of Mixed Drinks” to help carry on.

The band is called Frightened Rabbit, and if you have not yet heard its unique sound – complete with vulnerable vocals fused with strings and winds, much like the great Arcade Fire – you are missing out on clever indie rock.

“The Winter of Mixed Drinks” is the Scottish band’s third studio album, and since its release on March 9 it has received widespread praise, particularly for the band’s ability to deal with the perils of life, while still delivering a liberating sound.

The album’s first single is “Swim Until You Can’t See Land,” which offers an energetic, yet calming message of escapism. Lead vocalist and guitarist Scott Hutchison said in a statement on the band’s Web site it is “not necessarily a geographical journey, as the ‘swim’ can involve any activity in which you can lose yourself.”

They sing largely about shutting the world out and getting lost because it is a way to escape all the negative things in the world.

Frightened Rabbit is capable of telling epic stories, whether listeners get the same message out of a song or not.

Although the album, written over the course of seven weeks, may exude a great deal of self-pity and sadness, it is honest and real, and there always seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

“FootShooter” is probably one of the more redemptive songs with the line “Duck under that desk, cover your neck, thicken your skin as I begin to shoot myself in the foot again.”

The singer warns that he will say things he will regret from time to time but that his lady friend should defend herself regardless and not take it too personally.

Listening to the album is like running a marathon, without all the physical strains.

You feel a sense of victory and happiness at the end of every song, but you still have to acknowledge the struggles and challenges that come along the way.

Arguably the best asset the band has to offer is the variety of instruments heard in almost every song including violins, saxophones, trumpets, and keyboards in addition to the brilliance of their drum and guitar playing.

Since its inception in 2003, Frightened Rabbit has added a new band member almost every year. Gordon Skene, who plays guitar, keyboards and backing vocals, joined in 2009.

If you are going to Coachella in April you will be seeing them. If not, you still have a chance on May 22 when they play at the Casbah in San Diego.

Mark Vidal can be reached at

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