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Ode To The Rakes: A Great Band That Briefly Was


Where were you on October 22, 2009?

Most everyone reading this won’t remember unless it happens to be a birthday or the day of some other memorable event. I remember it well for one very specific reason – that was the day The Rakes separated.


The Rakes! Only one of the most fun, exciting, and intelligent indie bands to have ever lived during the first decade of the 21st century. Four years ago, four lads from London, England who rocked music venues around the world called it quits just months after the release of their third album, Klang, and days before the start of their next scheduled tour.

“We feel privileged to have had the opportunity to write music together and perform around the world,” they said via a statement in the NME. “Genuinely, thanks for the good times… that was one hell of a party! But now, we really must get some sleep.”

The good times began in 2003 with the union of singer Alan Donohoe, guitarist Matthew Swinnerton, bassist James Hornsmith, and drummer Lasse Petersen under the name The Rakes because, as someone once described them, they were all “thin as rakes.” The quartet worked hard, cranked out some rough demos and released their first full-length studio album two years later titled Capture/Release.

Looking back, there wasn’t much that made the band special or separated it from the rest of the indie rock crowd. There was Swinnerton’s signature guitar-sound (slightly fuzzy, slightly abrasive) and not much else. What the group did have a talent for though was writing anthems about mundane working-class, early-20s life with some romance sprinkled in.

Take the group’s first hit single, “22 Grand Job,” for instance:

As you just heard, the catchy tune is about life in some random office gig. Many of their other songs in all their albums are also slice-of-life tales. “Retreat” and “Work, Work, Work (Pub, Club, Sleep)” are portraits of the restlessness and exhaustion caused by life in a big city like London while “Open Book” and “All Too Human” deal with the more neurotic side of romance.

2007’s Ten New Messages and 2009’s Klang followed a similar formula with numerous tales of work, romance, and the big city such as “Little Superstitions,” “We Danced Together,” and “When Tom Cruise Cries” in the former and “The Loneliness Of The Outdoor Smoker,” “Woes Of The Working Woman,” and “The Light From Your Mac” in the latter.

Unfortunately, the band separated weeks after the release of Klang in the US. Being in The Rakes wasn’t fun anymore, apparently, and the members called it off after being unable to “give it 100%.”

The members have moved on to other projects since then. Donohoe is working on some solo material as Champagne Campaign, Swinnerton released a solo instrumental album via Trestle Records, Hornsmith works in music management at Machine Management, and Peterson joined Rock group Wolf Gang.

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Written by: Afroxander