Wednesday 26 June 2013

Crown Larks - Catalytic Conversion

EP review by

Occasionally the concept album makes a brief appearance, and I have a theory that every musician secretly wants to make a concept album, whether they choose to admit it or not. I'm not sure how widespread the concept EP is though. Perhaps this is a medium that bands can use to let that creative spark go without boring us with double albums about strange ideas or historical myths. Chicago band Crown Larks have done just that, with the bulk of this EP being made up of 'Malone's Lullaby' parts 1 to 4; essentially one continuous piece of music that changes wildly from the muffled acoustic beginning, through (deliberately) messy guitar sections, to the addition of organ and brass and a change of tempo, to the almost lo-fi alt-rock section and the inevitable pure prog-rock finale where they all get to pretend they're in Emerson, Lake & Palmer for a few minutes.

It's not indulgent though, and the screamed vocals over the noodling organ, rampant guitars and brass instruments that sound as though they're being violated in some way, give a much more up-to-date feel. Once this odyssey is complete we move into the chilled but bleak 'Aquarium' which has the vibe of '90s US alt-rock but slowed down until it's little more than a dirge. 'Blue Lobsters' shows that this band may not just have had a fleeting prog itch to scratch; perhaps this is who they really are. The song bears many of the genre's hallmark sounds, despite it's more regular length. It could be that the concept EP is a way of letting off your prog steam, but in the case of Crown Larks it might just be the stepping stone onto that double album based around an ancient Native American legend from around their hometown...

Crown Larks' website

Stream or download the EP

Catch them live:

Aug 04 The Crown and Harp, Dallas, TX

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