Crush Kill Destroy – Punctuate Our Phrases

Crush Kill Destroy
Punctuate Our Phrases

Ann Arbor’s Crush Kill Destroy, in name, may sound like some sort of death metal band. (In fact, in my mind, I’m coming up with an illegible death metal logo for them right now.) Fuggetabboutit! CKD specialize in the sort of intelligent soundscape post-something rock championed by bands like June of ’44 and Shellac. I’m generally not enthralled by this style of music, but when a band comes along that does it as well as these guys, some serious respect is obviously due. (Plus, it helps to keep the riff raff out. By saying the “riff raff,” I’m referring to the numerous bands working this sound whose recorded output is boring, wanky, and uninspired.)
CKD’s plan is to let their cleanly strummed guitars soothe the listener, clearing the way for marvelously dissonant Mogwai-style crescendos. It’s all about the interplay between the two guitarists, who build gorgeous arpeggios and thick chord stacks around each other. These are expertly wound around the rhythm section, whose solid playing brings focus and structure to the odd, almost freeform guitar explorations. As is the case with much of this kind of music, the vocals are used quite sparingly, when they appear at all. The vocalist(s?) hover(s) between softly spoken, almost Steven Wright-like soliloquy and dead-out shouting during the moments of peak intensity. The vocals are an interesting element to the music, but the guitars clearly have the show here. Check out “I Beat the Goalie,” which in its relatively brief four minutes, rolls out perplexing Archers of Loaf and Polvo-styled guitar workouts, while putting their own unmistakable signature all over it. You’ll have to hear it for yourself.
Due to the disjointed nature of the songs, while listening to the album in it’s entirety, it is often difficult to tell where each song begins and ends: It’s all part of one big trip. In the case of this record, this isn’t a bad thing at all. CKD has the good sense to repeat ideas to the point that they become utterly hypnotic, yet nothing falls into the snare of becoming tiresome. Even “Emergency Room Lounge,” which clocks in at around eight minutes, is an easy, thrill-packed ride. Almost on command, CKD will throw in something new, freaky, and unexpected. Even though this is far from being pop, the craft of the songs and the pace at which new ideas flow indicate a sensibility that could never have come from a strict regimen of Dianoga, Shellac, Unwound, and long jam sessions. There’s a songwriter’s sensibility that’s very refreshing in this genre.
It has come to my attention that the band has recently relocated to Chicago. Given the city’s taste for experimental post-rock sounds, they couldn’t be in a better place. Guys, it’s time to attack the whack and show ’em how it’s done.