Crow Ballard - "We Gotta Burn The Invertebrate Skeleton"
Another release under the Fuzzy Cracklins umbrella. There are some great artists on that roster, two of which (Sangue and Kavod) I have already had the pleasure of reviewing and now I get to sink my teeth into another. With the release of a new E.P. - "We Gotta Burn The Invertebrate Skeleton", Crow Ballard creates a very interesting sound which blends between the old and new of hard rock and stoner rock. This latest release will be featured on a split-cassette with Irrational Beer Pong League, and is set to be released by Fuzzy Cracklins.
Artist: Crow Ballard
Location: Portland, Oregon
Record: "We Gotta Burn The Invertebrate Skeleton"
Review: The first track from the record, "Rhyme", begins with a drum fill before kicking into a stoner rock-vibe riff with some cool bass licks underneath. This is very short-lived as the song then goes into a completely different being. The tempo picks up and the track becomes upbeat while somehow still sounding sinister. This could easily be something which was written by the likes of Melvins, Tomahawk, Meat Puppets, etc. A great opening track which sets the scene well for the rest of the record. While it's only 1:52 long, it packs a lot into it but avoids being overcrowded.
The title track for the record follows up and right out the gates it's more of an upbeat quirky stoner rock/post-grunge number. "We Gotta Burn The Invertebrate Skeleton", makes you want to get up a dance around like no one is watching. Again, another short track. Even shorter than the opener. But it still delivers everything you'd want to hear. A sick guitar solo plays and you are teased with the conclusion of the track. But then it busts back in and you're immediately bobbing your head and shaking your body in ways you probably shouldn't but it's all good fun. So far, this record is right up my street as far as it being pretty weird and having the crucial elements which great songs have.
Third track, "Devil's Eye", kicks in with an almost staccato-like guitar riff. Funky-sounding yet you know that's not going to last long. The volume shortly picks up as distortion is added along with drums, bass and vocals. This track definitely has more of a classic hard rock vibe to it in parts than the previous tracks but things sharply take a turn for the evil. We're treated to a head-bobbing half time riff with some harmonics on the guitars for extra texture. The bass sounds dirty as hell here and the drums are solid in holding together the rhythm as the track plays out. Another short track here. But it leaves you wanting more.
"Broken Crown" is more along the lines of some of the great 70's hard rock bands like Vanilla Fudge, Blue Cheer, MC5, etc. while having a more modern/stoner/experimental edge. The track has somewhat of a swing-feel to it and we're treated to another funky/psychedelic guitar intro, complimented with some really nice bass parts. The verse then kicks in for a short period before being followed up with a more Sabbath-esque section. More of a jam vibe between the instruments. The track mellows down briefly, playing the intro guitar riff before picking up the volume once more for the outro. Out of all the tracks so far, I felt like this was the one which could have been longer and had the potential to go into some really weird places. It was still a great track, but this was the first time listening to this record where I felt maybe an extra minute or so would have benefitted.
That brings us to the last track on the record, "Blood Floats Down". I immediately get a strong 90's vibe from this. A mellow-sounding guitar plays us in, while again, we're treated to some really nice bass guitar parts. They serve well as an extra layer to the track and have done so throughout the record. Again, another short track, which may leave you wanting more but I felt that what I got from this had just enough to leave me satisfied. As a final track, it works very well. Some really nice guitar solo's on the outro which plays the track and the album to it's conclusion.
Verdict: A fun record which takes influences from many eras of hard rock while adding something modern and fresh to the mix. If you're a fan of weird music then you'll definitely dig this record. I know I did. I reminded me of some of my favourite bands while being its own thing. This record has a load of replay value, and not just because of the short tracks, but it has some really great song writing elements. It's definitely more of a record you'd want to put on and chill out to but that works well in my opinion. Light up and enjoy!
FFO: Butthole Surfers, Melvins, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster