Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The Great Crusades-Four Thirty

September 1, 2006

thegreatcrusades

Band Name: The Great Crusades

Album Name: Four Thirty

Best Element: Rock Through and Through

Genre: Chicago Blues-Rock

Website: www.thegreatcrusades.com

Label Name: Innocent Words Records

Band Email: octane@thegreatcrusades.com

Great Crusades lyricist and vocalist Brian Krumm asks a pretty tough question at the open of the Chicago blues-rock band’s fifth studio effort, Four Thirty.

“Are we having fun anymore?” Krumm eerily petitions in each chorus of the song.

Though the rest of the song echoes the dangers of alcoholism, one has to wonder if the band is perhaps questioning the heart of their rock’n’roll drive. One listen through Four Thirty, however, answers Krumm’s question with a resounding

YES; The Great Crusades are still very much having fun rocking their way through tales of Chicago, the nightlife, the old life, and scuffling with the boys.

The opening riff of “Are We Having Fun Yet?” immediately draws the listener in and gets one’s toes tapping. Krumm’s hoarse vocals kick in and let you know right away you’re in for a personal ride. The song drifts back and forth between mellow verses and hard hitting choruses, capped off by a solo that exudes musical talent within the band before the song slows to a halt.

“Porch Song” ushers in the southern blues feel with satirical lyrics, touching again on the subject of drinking but also glorifying the life of the old geezer stationed on a porch. The album continues to rock through “Hollywood Bungalow”, though the songs start to come off as repetitive with a very similar style consisting of a rocking introduction, a mellow verse with an emphasis on vocals, and then rocking choruses.

All of that is forgotten with “I Got Away.” If the previous tunes didn’t make you feel like a badass, Krumm’s vocals and lyrics will send you away to a dark Chicago street, tommy gun in hand and sunglasses representing. Despite some of the music resembling the E.L.O. classic “Don’t Bring Me Down”, this song is far from pop. A middle section of a runaway snare and Krumm’s devious vocals explodes into a crazy final uptempo chorus, blowing away all the mellowness of the earlier verses.

The mood shifts with “She Walked Alone” as pianist Brian Leach hammers out a melancholy melody under Krumm’s vocals and his own backup vocals. This song is the definition of short and sweet and provides a great change of pace on this mostly rock album.

The middle of the CD holds the better songs on the album. Right after the serenity of “She Walked Alone” comes the heavy rock of “Heathers Will Haunt You.” Not only does Krumm speak true about the hauntings of past relationships, but his backup singers echo it in haunting vocal harmonies that make this one of the best songs on the CD.

“Rawl” is the Great Crusades playing their finest when it comes to blues.

Calling a rambling man on his B.S. is the emphasis of attack here, and a horns section, piano, screeching blues guitars, and Krumm’s dramatic vocals pave the way for a toe tapping sing along.

Four Thirty is a 52 minutes of rock’n’roll at its basic form; with a heavy blues influence yet songs that can relate to modern day listeners, the Great Crusades come off as a well seasoned quartet. One of the major drawbacks found in the album, as stated before, is that many of the songs tend to sound similar or are fashioned after one another. Starting off with a hooking guitar line, most songs decrescendo into a mellowed out verse and then rock back into a chorus. This formula is a successful one, but not when it’s repeated over and over again.

If you’re looking to sit back and relax to an hour of timeless rock’n’roll, however, and you can’t quite squeeze into those leather pants and moths have gotten the best of your tie-dyed flower shirts, simply throw on a trench coat, pull out that roundtop hat of yours, and relax to the welcoming sounds of Four Thirty.

–Erik Williams

Endlesscreed@Charter.net

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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