Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Cassette Review: Crown Larks "Blood Dancer" (Already Dead Tapes)
[$5 // Second Edition of 100 // https://crownlarks.bandcamp.com/album/blood-dancer]
While I do recognize that I like to use the "/" (backslash) a lot, the simple fact that the side of this cassette has the artist name and title listed as "Crown Larks // Blood Dancer" made me think that this was some sort of split and Blood Dancer was the name of the artist on Side B. Of course this is simply not the case and based upon that notion any number of things could be said about my reviews and perhaps (over)use of the backslash, but it's just something I found funny because I thought of it for a second or two at first and then when I actually opened the cassette I realized the only artist on here is called Crown Larks. (Which I also struggle with not typing "Crown Lakes" for some reason)
The music on "Blood Dancer" has three key components to it and they all appear right away. There is a really strong bass line right off and this maintains in different variations throughout the cassette. I can't really think of another band with such a prominant bass line without thinking about how much I dislike them, so this is somewhat of a perfect example for people who want to be Flea (and including him) to follow so as to make your bass line known without actually having it become braggadocious.
Joining the bass line are what I simply like to refer to as "jazz horns" because I'm never quite sure what horn is what. I have the horns (which includes woodwinds) divided into three categories in my mind: saxophone, because I played that in grade school, trumpet (which can include bugle and the like) and then everything that has that bass sound to it which is usually just dropped off as being "a trombone or something". There are a number of instruments here from your high school band and I do suggest reading the linear notes if you wish to know what each of them is specifically.
The third part of this cassette is what comes out at first as what I like to refer to as the Charlie Brown piano because it sounds like something from that cartoon series- either as the main theme song, inbetween music or something Schroder would play- but it really just represents the overall melody and sort of pop quality to this music that, along with everything else, gives it a sort of mainstream appeal.
If you're wondering what all of this sounds like when it comes together then I'm afraid I have bad news for you because there is no easy answer to that question. Through the vocals there is singing and then almost a screaming, and at times it's almost spoken word, and in this way some of the songs can remind me of anything from The Reflector to Cloud Nothings. Some of the more screamy parts which recall thrash on some levels can also bring up The Lot Six. And then there is this overall, sort of background holding everything else together as a staple that is somewhere along the lines of Death Cab For Cutie, Interpol and/or Piebald.
As much as that is something in and of itself, and there are even slower numbers that bring up memories of The Benjamins for me, there are the addition of horns which doesn't really seem to make this like any other band of that nature (What would you call Cloud Nothings? Indie rock?) plus horns and so it becomes somewhat hard to define in that way. I'm sure you could have your own ideas in your head of what Cloud Nothings might sound like with horns, but this isn't even like that. I just don't feel like you could possibly imagine this one, but the closest thing I can give you to an overall comparison with everything is Sweep the Leg Johnny and the fact that they haven't been active since 2002 really goes to show you how far I have to reach for a comparison here.
If that wasn't enough for you, there are other sounds in here and though the music seems to greatly outweigh the vocals in one of those "not instrumental but close to it" ways, the vocals are usually male but there is a section of female vocals during a song that ends Side A. This song has a more lulling quality to it which makes me think of it either trying to put us to sleep or simply Norah Jones, but please don't take that as an assessment of the female vocals so much as the music which joins them.
So if you can follow all of that and you can dig some sort of Cloud Nothings plus Piebald plus Norah Jones mostly instrumental type of band then Crown Larks is for you. I actually once knew someone who hated ska so much she wouldn't listen to anything with horns in it (NOTHING) and so this isn't something she'd listen to but as long as you didn't have any prior standing prejudice to horns then I don't see anyone who wouldn't benefit from listening to "Blood Dancer".