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Crain - Speed

  by Mark Rowland

published: 9 / 2 / 2005

Crain - Speed
Label: Temporary Residence
Format: CD


Timely, impressive re-release of long lost debut album from Crain, who came out of the late 80's art-punk scene in Louisville, Kentucky at the same time as the legendary Slint

There aren’t many indie rock fans who don’t know the name Slint. Their second album ‘Spiderland’ is the best known and most influential record to come out of the late 80's art-punk scene in Louisville, Kentucky. Their influence has grown so much since its release in 1991 that this year they gave into pressure and reformed for a brief tour and an appearance at February’s All Tomorrow's Parties festival. This is possibly part of the reason why Crain, a Louisville band from the same time, are getting their lost debut album ‘Speed’ re-released on CD for the first time courtesy of Temporary Residence records. Though this does sound like a blatant attempt to cash in, fans of late-80's American post-punk should be very excited about this release. To be frank, it’s ace. ‘Speed’ is not another ‘Spiderland’. While Slint’s album is full of silent, seething rage, Crain’s shouts angrily from the rooftops: equally pissed off, but more confrontational. Slint and Crain do share some similarities, however. ‘Kneel’ could be a Spiderland outtake - albeit one that was deemed too loud to fit in with the rest of the album - and discordant, Slint-like riffs and spoken word parts are scattered across the album. Original album closer ‘Ribcage’ also creates the same atmosphere that ‘Good Morning Captain’ does at the end of ‘Spiderland’. There are other elements to Crain’s sound, however. The sounds of Big Black, Fugazi, Louisville teen punks Squirrel Bait and Quicksand can be heard in ‘Speed’. Considering those bands are big influences on the current crop of American arty post-punk bands, ‘Speed’ sounds like it could have been recorded within the last couple of years, although Steve Albini’s production gives it a much rougher sound than current bands are likely to have. Most importantly, Crain’s songs have a great pop sensibility that creeps in on even the noisiest or most abstract songs. Take ‘King Octane’, for example. It’s pretty much a breakneck hardcore punk tune, but it breaks down in the middle to reveal a great melodic hook. ‘News from Warsaw’ and ‘Ten Miles of Fiction’ are probably the most melodic tracks on ‘Speed’, both featuring melodic guitar lines and the latter featuring a sweeping, huge chorus. How this got lost is a mystery, but we should all be thankful that it has been found again.

Track Listing:-
1 Car Crash Decisions
2 Monkey Wrench
3 Proposed Production
4 Kneel
5 The Dead Town
6 King Octane
7 Skinminer Pastel
8 News From Warsaw
9 Ten Miles of Fiction
10 Ribcage
11 F*ckerman
12 Stabilizer
13 Blistering
14 Breathing Machine

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