Crain – Speed (CD)

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 “Monkey Wrench” even incorporate a little bit of Danzig to what is already a hard-edge sound. The great thing about “Speed” 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 (Will’s work) on the disc. A number of the tracks maintain the seeds of what would be consider “emo” 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 “Proposed Production”, coupled with Crain’s impressive ability to take new courses at the drop of a dime, makes for a track that is every bit the equal as “Salad Days”, “Dag Nasty” or even “Waiting Room”.

What is a noticeable twist in Crain’s music that really is not shown in the other “punk” 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 “Kneel”, Crain can set long-range goals that are only realized if individuals listen to the entire track. Crain’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 Northwest” and the pop-punk from Orange County stretching its tendrils over the scene. Nowhere is this more present than “King octane” 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 – this is some innovative music, made even more impressive considering the cultural wasteland that is the Midwest. Crain’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

Rating: 7.1/10

Crain – Speed / 2005 Automatic Records / 14 Tracks / http://www.automaticrecords.co.uk / Reviewed 23 April 2005

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