With the same sort of detached-from-punk style of Fugazi, Crain looks wistfully back at the wall of sound bands to make a track that feels fit for the Nation of Ulysses-era as much as the later-Fugazi era. The vocals on tracks like â€œMonkey Wrenchâ€ even incorporate a little bit of Danzig to what is already a hard-edge sound. The great thing about â€œSpeedâ€ is that even (almost) 15 years after its release, the sound is still vital and worthwhile. Each section of Crain is given a great time to shine, especially evidenced by the resilient drums (Willâ€™s work) on the disc. A number of the tracks maintain the seeds of what would be consider â€œemoâ€ in the later period; virtuosic guitars as well as emotionally-intense vocals tying themselves together to make a whirlwind of emotion. The angular sound of â€œProposed Productionâ€, coupled with Crainâ€™s impressive ability to take new courses at the drop of a dime, makes for a track that is every bit the equal as â€œSalad Daysâ€, â€œDag Nastyâ€ or even â€œWaiting Roomâ€.
What is a noticeable twist in Crainâ€™s music that really is not shown in the other â€œpunkâ€ bands of the period is the ability to actually create a bit of atmosphere before busting into a track. With songs like the seven-minute â€œKneelâ€, Crain can set long-range goals that are only realized if individuals listen to the entire track. Crainâ€™s victory here is that they force listeners to involve themselves throughout instead of simply kicking into tracks with a 1-2-3-4. What comes out of Kentucky in 1992 is cognizant of the impending grunge making it big in the Pacific Northwestâ€ and the pop-punk from Orange County stretching its tendrils over the scene. Nowhere is this more present than â€œKing octaneâ€ which maintains links to both forms throughout instead of making camps in just one style.
It makes sense that this album sold 1,000 copies in the shortest period â€“ this is some innovative music, made even more impressive considering the cultural wasteland that is the Midwest. Crainâ€™s style, cutting-edge in 1992 still sounds present, urgency and just implores a listener to maintain the dial on that track. This is just as important as anything put out by Minutemen or Wire; hopefully this album in time will be given the proper accolades and introduce all listeners to music that does not necessarily have to conform to one specific style.
Top Tracks: Blistering, Monkey Wrench
Crain â€“ Speed / 2005 Automatic Records / 14 Tracks / http://www.automaticrecords.co.uk / Reviewed 23 April 2005