"Out of all of the albums I have, and I am SERIOUSLY obsessed with music...I would say The Cranes' music has gotten deep into a part of me that all other pieces of music I've heard have failed to reach. I, like many others, discovered The Cranes through The Cure. The mood is similar to The Cure, but overall The Cranes are very, very different. Where The Cure are heavier, moodier and much grander in their theartical, epic depression, The Cranes are much more subtle, fragile, and achingly, hauntingly, unbearably beautiful. They're a perfect balance between Treasure by the Cocteau Twins and Disintegration by The Cure. Sad, mourning, ethereal, but calmer and more purely sad and beautiful than The Cure and less sweet than The Cocteau Twins. As another reviewer said, I also associate The Cranes with a very happy part of my life, so I guess I might be a little biased, but all I know is The Cranes are one of the only bands besides possibly Rasputina, My Bloody Valentine or Kate Bush that I never tire of. We are all searching for that totally emotionally satisfying band that speaks to us and soothes us. This might be it for me. Buy their stuff and see for yourself."
A good introduction to The Cranes for newbies like me
Scott Sweet | Colorado Springs, CO | 02/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Cranes have an effective formula and they use it a bunch, at least in this collection of songs. Alison Shaw's helium-laced vocals float alongside brother Jim's sinister power pop. It's like Little Red Riding Hood singing along with the big bad wolf. Another comparison would be Jarboe (formerly of Swans) doing the soundtrack for a David Lynch movie. The music has a lean, edgy rhythm that leaves just enough room for the singing. Highlights, Disc One:
"Beach Mover" - This one sounds a lot like something Jarboe or Lydia Lunch would do.
"Inescapable" - Power pop with David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti menace.
"Give" - Good contrast between fragile vocals and Concrete Blonde-esque rock.
"Cha Cha Escueta" - The conga drum lightens the music up a little. Has a strong 80's British "alternative" sound.
"Brighter" - An excellent goth dance track, with Spanish guitar.
"Dreamless" - This one sounds like a Cranes cover of Swans. Perfect killer-in-the-basement pop.Disc Two:
"September" - Soothing flanged folk guitar, though it's hard to make out the words. A great rainy-day song.
"Adoration" - More David Lynch lounge music.
"Paris and Rome (Flood Mix)" - Alternates between a 60's lounge song and "Disintegration"-era Cure.
"Lilies (Flood Mix)" - OK, enough soft stuff...POW! Sounds like Hole, with a better singer.
"Tangled Up" - Another nice acoustic guitar ballad.
"Breeze" - Sounds like every car commercial on TV right now. (NOT The Cranes' fault.)
"In The Temple" - A good one if you like Black Tape for a Blue Girl's "The Scavenger Bride." German expressionism with French words.It's a good retrospective, though quite a few of the songs are similar in key and style. When you hear the little girl singing in the unlit basement, the music reminds you not to go down there alone."
Strange and beautiful band
J. Holmes | yokohama, japan | 09/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"it's very safe to say that Cranes are a unique band. the music is simple and sometimes very stark with minimal elements that add a touch of fragile beauty. their unique appeal is only strengthened by the vocals, which at times, sound like a frightened child. Cranes have created a musical landscape that borrows from the composer Satie, Cocteau Twins, and maybe even a little bit of Velvet Underground. but they have twisted all these elements into a form and shape that is all their own. a challenging listen that is worth investigation."
Doesn't match the hype - there are far better artists around
mianfei | 04/20/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Formed by the brother/sister team of Jim and Alison Shaw, the Cranes won considerable accalim from some critics for their combination of Alision Shaw's eerie, supposedly beautiful voice with their "noisy", synthesiser-driven music.
However, a listen to the work on "EP Collection, Vols. 1-2" really shows the Cranes were never in league with such art-rock masters as Cocteau Twins or early Dead Can Dance. Whereas those bands were able to find focus through acoutically-produced, but still extremely dense, soundscapes, the earliest songs on "EP Collection, Vols. 1-2" uses synthesisers and drums that quite explicitly recall what stadium-rock bands were producing at the time - and the stadium rock of the late 1980s has dated horribly to put it mildly. Even though Alison Shaw's voice tries to be as incomprehensible as Lisa Gerrard or Liz Fraser or Bilinda Butcher, she does not come off as passionate like a singer of this type should. For instance, on "Beach Mover" her voice is stop-start like Björk at her best but never seems to have any feeling, whilst "Heaven or Bliss" is simply awful techno-rock with an irritating "blip blip".
The band's inability to produce a truly "ethereal" sound does not improve in the next section of tracks, even if Alison Shaw's voice is at times distinctly touching even though it never gets going into the kind of vocal gymnastics this sort of music needs to stand out. The eerie middle line of "Dada 331" is the highlight of the whole record set, but still would not rank among the greats. "I Hope" is quieter and actually intense but seems directionless compared to MBV or the Band of Susans. However, "E. G. Shining" really shows the band at their best with a power ballad that actually fits Alison's voice with all passion and no pomp. "Cha Cha Escueta", however, is merely instruemntal funk, and the remaining songs on the first disc move towards a sound that lacks the distinctivenes the band briefly established.
The second disc, quieter still, reminds one of much of today's folk-pop in tone and its dreaminess is not develped enough to compensate. This direction had been noticed on the piano-based "Casablanca" where the lack of catchy or comprehensible lyrics actually becomes irritating because there is nothing memorable (lyrics or passionate instrumental passages) in the songs. "Dance of the Furies" might pretend to be folk but it is really part of their annoying "blip blip" early sound and Alison Shaw actually talks in a way that is quite in appropriate unless she were a young child.
All in all, this is not the work of a first-tier band. Dated in parts, lacking passion in others, apart from "E. G. Shining" you will not understand why the Cranes gained the following they did."