It’s nothing short of a miracle that either band is releasing records today. Seriously? Who would think that Chrome Cranks and Unsane would be putting out records in 2012? There are plenty of gossipy reasons why neither band should exist but you should mind your own business and be thankful that both bands survive.
Chrome Cranks and Unsane each formed in the late eighties. The former cut its teeth in Ohio while the latter came together at a fancy pants college in NY. A few years later, along with a handful of other bands, Chrome Cranks and Unsane would become the soundtrack for Lower East Side middle-class junkies—back in the day when heroin put the “h” in hipster.
Led by singer/guitarist Peter Aaron, Chrome Cranks epitomize gum-snapping cool. These are the guys that creep into town and roll out with your sister/daughter/girlfriend/wife. Don’t even make eye contact if you know what’s good for you. Chrome Cranks still make music that’s dangerous. Something that seems to have gone missing in a post-nineties shuffle—for those about to rock.
No Lies in Blood is gushing with I don’t give a fuck rock’n’roll paired with their not so subtle nod to The Scientists—the union produces a blues based sexy swagger that makes you want to fuck, fight or both. This is never more apparent than on the closing track “Lover of the Bayou,” ten minutes of Southern-fried bliss that oozes with sex and rage. See if you can curb the urge to reach for the volume to see what will blow first—your speakers or your neighbors. Or try to resist guitarist William Weber’s dentist drill slide work on “Broken-Hearted King” that sends a little love Duane Allman’s way while drummer Bob Bert and bassist Jerry Teel keep a tight, driving beat that seems to grow faster as Weber works the neck of his guitar into a frenzy. It’s a welcome return to form for Chrome Cranks who have eased back into their groove quite seamlessly.
Then there’s Unsane. Still going strong and still able to impress. More than twenty years of relentless pummeling while Chris Spencer scrapes every vocal chord raw still induces chills. There’s nothing short of pushing and driving everything to eleven. The intensity still holds strong. Opener “Rat” immediately kicks down the door and establishes a balls-out drive that sets the bar high while “Decay” catches the band in something a bit more confessional than we’re used to and it’s a refreshing addition. “No Chance” is classic Unsane that continues to match the edge of the neighborhood that was 1990s Lower East Side, and while the neighborhood may no longer be recognizable—Chrome Cranks and Unsane haven’t aged a bit.
Both records offer a welcome toast to the dirty side of the nineties with a classic sound that has never lost its luster. It’s a listening experience that cuts through the bullshit and gets down to the basics: sex and drugs and rock and roll. [Bang Records!/Alternative Tentacles]
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