Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 14: The Cranberries, "Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?"

Artist: The Cranberries
Album: Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?
Year: 1993
Label: Island

By 1993, grunge and "G Funk" rap dominated the popular music scene. Every label was trying to find artists who could present these styles and ride the EmpTV gravy train. Somehow, a short Irish woman and her three bandmates broke through with a sound that was absolutely nothing like anything else being played at the time. Deolores O'Riordan and her band The Cranberries burst onto the scene with their ironically titled 1993 debut, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?

The Cranberries draw clear influences from post-punk artists like The Smiths and Morrissey (they actually used Smiths' producer Stephen Street on the album.) Their songs, while not depressing, have a feel of loneliness and melancholy throughout. Even with the more up-tempo songs, the lyrical team of O'Riordan and guitarist Noel Hogan have penned a series of songs of love and the problems it creates. The combination of scattered, yet not empty instrumentation with the magnificent vocal work of O'Riordan almost leave the listener in a blissful trance.

Making more with less is definitely the ethos used on Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?. The guitar and drum work is simple, not to say that it is unskilled. Hogan makes the most of the notes he plays, leaving plenty of room for the other band members, a few string instruments, and the amazing vocals of O'Riordan to shine. The rhythm section is also rather understated on the record, and again, not due to lack of talent. The Cranberries simply enjoy the challenge of making great musical works with minimal instrumentation. This musical economy works wonderfully and each song has a very distinctive, yet cohesively warm feeling.

The vocals O'Riordan are absolutely unparalleled. Rarely moving from the upper register of the music scale, she sings completely in control, yet there is a beautiful looseness to her voice. Unlike a majority of singers who attempt to thrive in the high notes (Mariah Carey), O'Riordan can actually sing words and sustain the notes instead of shrieking up to them and then returning to the lower notes. From an intimate whispery sound to belting out her entire vocal range, O'Riordan's vocals are unmistakably brilliant.

As previously stated, for such a quiet and mellow album to have as much impact as it did was nearly unheard of at the time. Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? spawned a pair of Top 20 singles in "Dreams" and "Linger." The former has been covered nearly a dozen times and has been featured in a number of films as well. Both songs remain as two of the most identifiable songs of the musical explosion of the 1990's.

When it comes to having an immediately recognizable sound, Irish rockers The Cranberries are up there with the best. The sparse music and phenomenal vocals set this group far apart from the rest of the music of their generation. Though subsequent albums were quite strong, their debut, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? stands above the rest and is still largely regarded as one of the most significant albums of the 1990's.

Standout tracks: "Dreams," "Pretty," and "Put Me Down."

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