Album: Guns, Gold and Giftcards. Artist: Crude Humor Release Date: July 2013
Crude Humor’s new tape, with its shallow thrash, boasts many of the necessary components of great punk. In Guns, Gold and Giftcards, the unsavory parts of life are attacked with a straightforward conciseness which is so rarely present in other genres. Mile-a-minute-spit-spewing vocals powerfully project strong disapproval of and rebellion against the evils of the world, and the quick punk tempo delivers that raw emotion straight to the listener’s core. This tape, which I gratefully accepted (free of charge!) outside the Whipple House after a fierce performance by the band, goes above and beyond the necessities of a “good” compilation in this genre; the third track, “Dancing Queen” (satirically titled, I assume), is a delight with a very danceable funk bass line and crisp Johnny Marr-like guitar, which really makes you stop to think for a second before permitting you to dive, body and soul, into the intense fire of hardcore punk.
The lyrics are the hidden gem of this record. Though slightly difficult to catch under the buzz of the instruments, they are artfully intricate and well written. Omar, the band’s lead singer, sent me the lyrics after I asked for them in order to make sure that I could more clearly understand not only the songs but the band itself, for it is often lyrically that a band’s activism, its cause and driving purpose, is displayed. Earlier, I had noticed that their tape specifically directed listeners to take any potentially offensive lyrics as satirical, signifying that this band understands the controversial nature of the socio-political issues they are exploring, and that they truly believe in having their art perceived as a discourse, not an arrogant statement of fact. Looking at their lyrics (which I have attached below), their disclaimer is fitting and necessary. Lead singer and lyricist Omar faces down such edgy and politically dangerous topics as the Holocaust, suicide, and the Kelly Thompson beating without fear of reproach and rejection. I have great admiration for Crude Humor and the punk genre in general for precisely this brand of fearlessness and well-intentioned openness. This sort of rebellion against the norms of propriety and silent conformity attracts many artists who are valuably opinionated about the ills of life and the issues of modern culture. These fresh perspectives present a united front to broaden the horizons of today’s thinking people and potentially, bring about change.
The curse of the punk genre is frequently an entrapment in mediocrity as a result of faulty formatting; fuzzy, DIY recordings shroud the very best of what good bands can offer while allowing less talented artists to produce very similar sound. Crude Humor, as was evident from hearing them play live even before they came through my speakers, really breaks that mold and has their game together. They really pound out great music, and their record, the shallowness of what I assume to be a 4-track tape recorder nonwithstanding, maintains succinctness and cohesion even in its most frantic (and beautifully chaotic) moments.
The last track on Guns, Gold and Giftcards, “Untitled”, is the slowest song on the album, and the one bursting with the most repressed pain. It is filled with drone and noise, which cascades up and down for just enough time to stimulate but not bore before it fades away into a beautiful, operatic voice singing “Christ the Savior Is Born” from Silent Night.
This is the end. Crude Humor, after thrashing out five songs of rage against the machine (to borrow an apt turn of phrase), against poverty and pain, against murder and the wrongdoing of a human race condemned, ends on a note of pleasantly dark irony, cementing their understanding of their strange position as a band. They, like all activist artists, are stuck between illuminating the issues of the world and being entertainers, but they, unlike many, do it well. In what can seem to be the absurd bleakness of this life that still means a whole lot.
Rating: Go Buy. Now. (It’s free but give these awesome dudes 5 bucks, they deserve it) Lyrics: Gold, Guns, and Giftcards lyrics and info Album available FOR FREE: http://crudehumor.bandcamp.com/track/gold-guns-and-giftcards Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crudehumorchicago
Thanks to Lucy McDonald for the photos.
Writer: Matthew Balzekas
Editor: Artem Potemkin