'Round the Dial
Wednesday 18 June @ 12:47:06
by Tom Hallett
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The big difference between us and punk groups is that we like KC and the Sunshine Band. You ask Johnny Rotten if he likes KC and the Sunshine Band, and he’ll blow snot in your face.”
—Chris Frantz, Talking Heads
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Summer Of Madness”
Ya know, one of the many joys of making music—especially local music—a central focus in your life is when an artist or band you’ve been following for awhile, checking out around town, and recommending to pals, releases an album that absolutely, hands down, catches the spark that makes their live shows such a treat. Such an album is Kruddler’s latest, They’re There.
Fronted by the always energetic, sometimes frenetic Shane Gallivan, Kruddler has, over the past few years, stamped their indelible mark on the Twin Cities rock community with little regard for public opinion, critical acclaim, or financial gain. Big deal, you say. So has your band, and six hundred others around town, across the country—hell, the world. So what’s the difference? Simple. Dedication. There’s a reason Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott wrote a song with that title, there’s a reason bands born two decades and an ocean apart from Phil plow onward, carrying the torch he left behind, and there’s a reason Kruddler’s latest album sounds tight as the proverbial fucking drum. Dedication, baby.
Though 2001’s Pet Stains was a rollicking, ear-splitting rawk-fest in its own right (and contained studio versions of some of the band’s hottest live material), the recording lacked a certain expansive something that could’ve better showcased Kruddler’s totally enviable rhythm section. Bassist Tony Zaccardi and drummer Tim Baumgart seemed at times to completely disappear in the twin guitar/vocal attack of Gallivan and Ben Hayter. Not that you were hearing anything bad, you just weren’t really hearing the outfit in all their power-stomp glory. Unless maybe you had a Blaupunkt stereo with outhouse-sized sub-woofers. Me, I can’t afford such contraptions, and frankly, I think every album made should sound great on shitty speakers—it’s a perfect litmus test for “the rock,” man.
Regardless, Pet Stains (delicious title, eh?) as I was sayin’, was chock fulla great tunes, and they never sounded better than when Shane & crew were tearin’ up a local stage, amps up to ten, hop-mode in full throttle. The band kept busier than ever after the album’s release, playing literally scores of live gigs around town and contributing kick-ass tracks to Pulse’s Twin Town High album and The Tundra Sessions, a recent local collaboration out on Doomadelic Records. Incidentally, both of those tracks (“Terms Of Engagement” and “Potty Mouth,” respectively) are included on They’re There, and both have a hint of the heavier (sound, subject matter, and bottom-end) groove that’s on the new album, as well.
That’s why I was mighty thrilled when I received my copy. Could it be? I asked myself. Will this be the album that breaks Kruddler’s monster-rock status wide open, captures their live sound, and wins the ears and hearts of the riff-hungry masses? My question was answered with a resounding YEAH!! as soon as the first notes of the album crashed haphazardly from my (tiny) speakers...
Learning Curve Records
Street Date: 6/24/03
Personnel: Shane Gallivan, guitar, vocals/Ben Hayter, guitar, vocals, keys/Tony Zaccardi, bass, vocals, keys/Tim Baumgart, drums, vocals
Track Listing: Diction Fairytale/Terms Of Engagement/Get Sum/About Her/Return The Pages/Sasquatohagener/Potty Mouth/Fargenux Part Deux/Martin Buren’s Van/Peoria/William Holden Died Going For The Phone/Lift & Separate/Shine On
Kruddler’s absolutely bruising rhythm section is righteously represented right out of the gate on their new release, They’re There, as boomstick man Tony Zaccardi lets loose a flurry of bass notes as urgent as Anthrax’s cover of Joe Jackson’s “Got The Time.” From there, “Diction Fairytale” crashes and burns with furious, ram-it-home riffage and triumphant “whoa-whoa’s” right into the rawk oblivion from whence it came. Normally, that’s the performance you’d see on a stage or in somebody’s basement—this time, it’s captured perfectly on an album. Sweet!
“Terms Of Engagement,” which was released as a single on the Twin Town High CD awhile back, takes on new meaning here, nestled comfortably between the songs it was meant to be heard with—and Shane’s cry of, “Can’t wait to see your next show, your next show, your next show...” rings as true as the shrieking guitars backing it up. “Get Sum” is a summer anthem in the purest sense of the term, bouncing pop/punk mayhem positively simmering and biting with hook after hook, proving that sometimes keeping it simple and to the point is the best angle. Not that the music itself is simple, exactly. There are layers of sound in this two minute powerhouse that one might think a recording studio is responsible for, but take my word for it, you catch these cats onstage and you’ll hear all of this and more.
AND THEN GOD SAID, LET THERE BE A HIT SINGLE!! And He looked about and saw Kruddler’s tune “About Her,” and IT WAS!! Slithering out of the speakers like a beautiful but dangerous jungle snake, bass notes fairly thundering, Pixies and Vaselines influences blatently flowering, the song literally crawls down your ears, wraps itself around your brain, and becomes a part of your musical psyche forever. That’s a good thing. “She had eyes of blue and they blew and they blew/She was twenty-two not 22...” (sweet female backing vocals, chunky glops of ringing guitar, “neener-neener” leads, snap-crackle-pop snare, HAPPY bass—diggit) “She walked into my room/And then back through the door...”
Simply a great punk/pop number that’d fit just fine on a mix tape between “Debaser” and “Son Of A Gun.” The only drawback to this song is that I have a hard time not hitting the back button and crankin’ it up JUST ONE MORE TIME, LAWD!! I predict this little ditty will save me from a shitty day more than once over the next few years...and hopefully, all I’ll have to do to hear it will be to turn on the radio (hint, hint).
“Return The Pages” finds Gallivan & the gang in a different psychic space, kicking off with funky, bent-string action, then slamming into an angry, anti-attitude rant against an unfaithful lover: “You took the best of me/And left the rest of me...” proving that, although peace, love, and unity are a big part of this band’s mentality, they’re still closer to the punk rock generation (pissed off, disillusioned, righteously questioning) than the hippie dippie failures that came before. And even if I’m way off the mark there, who can resist a one-and-a-half minute blistering punk tirade? Not me, pal.
“Sasquatohagener,” despite its bizarre title, is another candidate for an outdoor summer single, telling the tale of a band of curious kids who go on a camping trip to find a mythical forest beast: “She must’ve stood ten feet tall/All hairy and brown...” Ah, allegory, myth, monsters, burbling keys, grinding guitars, pounding drums and soothing, rolling bass lines—now that’s a fun day out.
Other standout tracks include the doomed road trip (the song opens with a burp) exorcism of “Fargenux Part Deux,” and a tongue-in-cheek ode to another beast that highway-bound, gig-ready rockers find highly useful, “Martin Buren’s Van” (which is amusing not only for its faux-political title, but for the use of the immortal line, “gas, grass, or ass, nobody rides for free...”)
But for pure fun rock n’ roll mayhem, “Peoria,” with an opening axe riff that only the snobbiest of rock crits wouldn’t favorably compare to an amped-up translation of Rush’s “New World Man,” wins the second half of the record, no contest. With its space-age effects, throbbing rhythms and cymbal-fried drum runs, this (mostly) instrumental number doesn’t shoot off into outer space like those anthem bands of the past, but rather speeds hungrily towards the centre of your mind; odd bits of off-frequency, off-kilter radio and TV broadcasts, phone calls and forgotten conversations bouncing off the satellite that is your head like so much space flotsam and jetsam.
“William Holden Died Going For The Phone” is as whacked out (in a good way) as its title infers, with Gallivan screaming like he just ate Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell for breakfast (“THERE’LL BE NO MORE SEATTLE HERE, BOY!!” growls the one called LEGION) and the band half-lazily, half-crazily vamping and amping behind him. “Lift & Separate” is a dirty, rollicking talking rock/blues that wends its way through hot suburban sidewalks and on into the heart of the filthy city with all the ne’er do well, carefree aplomb of the guys who play it, sing it, and live it. Think The Pursuit Of Happiness picks up Iggy Pop hitchhiking through Stull, and you’ll have just a hint of the essence of “Lift.” Sublime.
The album wraps up with the double-whammy of “Shine On,” a sharp-as-tacks breakup number that weighs in with all the sorrow and heartbreak pain this crew of normally happy, upbeat rockers can muster up: “I don’t really care/It’s just the same thing, last night, trying to pick a fight...” that turns into an indictment/benediction of those wily little hangers-on about town: “Shine on, you beautiful scenester, shine on...” Smart, brainy songwriting backed up by one-two-punch pop/punk, They’re There proves that this band really has arrived, and, lucky for you, they’re still here. As for me, I’m just tickled pink that I got an advance of this album, and to quote from one of Kruddler’s own songs, “I can’t wait to see your next show, your next show, your next show...” Until next time—make your own damn news.
Kruddler will play their CD release party for They’re There this Friday, June 20, at The Turf Club in St. Paul with local openers the Beatifics and Jan. Call 651-647-0486 for more info.
If you have local music news/gigs/events that you’d like to see listed in this column, or you’d just like to share the pharma-goodies you scored after your last root canal, send replies to: TMygunn777@aol.com.