Saturday, February 05, 2011
Craig's Brother -- The Insidious Lie
It's been ten years since Craig's Brother's last full length release, Lost at Sea, and seven since their last recorded statement, E.P. idemic. Fan expectation is high, but also reveals something else: if people will stick by your band, even when it takes you ten years to put out an LP, you must have something special.
The album kicks off with "Freedom," a blazing punk song that immediately reveals a new facet of the band--they got chops now. Seriously, while Craig's Brother of old were instrumentally at least respectable 10th level Squires, they are now 50th level Paladins. The guitars, played by Ted Bond and Glade Wilson, are tighter than they've ever been, and the leads are blazing. Though this track does not feature them, guitar solos are spread throughout the album, and they are nice. Also, the drums are awesome. I once got into an argument with a cousin who believed that the band Noggin Toboggan's drummer performed faster rolls than Craig's Brother's drummer, Heath Konkel. To my knowledge, Noggin Toboggan are no longer around to defend themselves, but if they were, the drum slaying skills Mr. Konkel has acquired throughout his years of playing would doubtfully be duplicated by whoever NT has behind the kit.
Yes, I just made a Noggin Toboggan reference. Deal with it.
Vocalist, Ted Bond, sounds better than ever, and bassist, Scott Hrapoff, never a slouch behind his instrument, does as well. His bass lines are inventive--they always were before, when you could hear them--and they bring to light another huge positive about this album: the production values. I'm not sure how an independently funded release can sound so much better than Craig's Brother's three previous label-backed ventures, but the production here blows those out of the water. Instruments and vocals are clear as a bell and don't slack at all from track to track. Without knowing any better, you would never guess that a few guys in Santa Cruz did this all themselves with almost negligible funds. The music world has changed.
While there are plenty of fast-blazing songs like "Freedom," The Insidious Lie also features several slowed down rock songs in the vein of Lost At Sea. "Klamath Falls" in particular is a winner. The track's lyrics describe a low point in the band's career, but on a broader level, portray the feeling of having no one on your side but your friends...even if your friends are losers...and even if you are a loser, too. The best two tracks in this style, also the best two tracks overall, come at the end of the album. Tenth track "The Problem of Evil" explores that very topic, changes gears several times, and leads directly into the final track, "The Aaronic Blessing (Peace on Earth)." I am not being hyperbolic here: this is the best song Craig's Brother have ever recorded (also not hyperbolic: I love colons). It features prominent piano throughout, more delicate instrumentation than CB have ever employed, and the most gut-wrenching lyrics Ted Bond has ever put to tape:
And they're gathered against you
Because the story never changed
Who can count the foes of Israel?
And haven't you forgotten your promises?
Or at least where the Jordon flows?
From the north to the south
Let the land give up its kin
Does this need to happen?
Is all this bloodshed predestined?
Peace on Earth, Peace on Earth
Is it more than mere hope is worth?
I haven't heard a song this Psalmic since...the last Craig's Brother's album. It is heartbreaking, but in the end still contains a note of hope. Plus, as you will probably listen to this album again immediately after it ends, this song leads directly back into "Freedom":
This corporeal holding cell can't keep me any more
Loose these terrestrial bonds and let this spirit soar
Alright, just go buy this already.
LAZY COMPARISON: Sounds like REM in their prime, except they play punk music and have hair.
1. Freedom 2:12
2. Mistake of Caring 3:51
3. Thousand Yard Stare 4:03
4. Klamath Falls 3:38
5. Insidious Lie 3:31
6. Party Girl 3:14
7. Closure 3:14
8. Fallen 3:13
9. Adeline 3:29
10. The Problem of Evil 3:41
11. The Aaronic Blessing (Peace on Earth) 5:15