"Franz Ferdinand"


At the two extremes of Glasgow's music scene are chamber-popsters Belle & Sebastian and clamorous song-spurners Mogwai. Franz Ferdinand and frequent tour mates Sons and Daughters take a middle course, arranging melody, structure and noise in ways that often draw comparisons not to fellow Scottish groups but to stateside ones.

Franz Ferdinand has been called "the American Strokes" -- among other things -- but it's better than that. The quartet's self-titled (and self-produced) debut album sets fully developed, moderately arty songs to propulsive modal-rock and jittery funk-punk guitars. Although the opening "Jacqueline" brattily announces that "it's always better on holiday," guitarist-songwriters Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy and their cohorts are actually crafty and hardworking. And for all its neo-punk restlessness, the band (which is named for the archduke whose assassination led to World War I) never quite goes wild. While the chorus of "This Fire" extols being "out of control," such mid-tempo songs as "The Dark of the Matinee" spotlight Kapranos's crooning and a weary aristocratic vibe. Indeed, Franz Ferdinand just might turn out to be the Scottish Roxy Music.

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Sunday at the 9:30 club with Sons and Daughters and Delegate. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Franz Ferdinand, call Post- Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8127. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)