Share DEAD COOL - Chrome Cranks (Crypt Records)
As if rising from the gutter, the strung-out sounding Chrome Cranks were a quadruplet of New York City-based rockers who played dour music. Coming from the same noisy, punk-blues sewer as the Honeymoon Killers (of which bassist Jerry Teel was a member) and the Cheater Slicks, the unit played with menace and druggy sleekness. Their sound reminds one of that antisocial, rabble-rouser you knew in high school that was both impassioned in appearance and manner but had an assured composure that made you like the person. In essence that is the Chrome Cranks, a sloppy band that displays easy command of this style thus demanding you pay attention to their psychodrama.

On their second album, "Dead Cool", released in 1995, the band never forsakes their sense of bluesy-trash rock that is surrounded in drug-addled restraint that often moves into guitar violence. Peter Aaron’s messy vocal is unkempt, and in songs like "Desperate Friend", Aaron either screams or howls his lyrics and ends some of the words on a nasally whine. The songs are supported by Teel’s central bass, and its simplicity isn’t as cumbersome as it is sounds on the jump-off title track. On the rest of the songs its low rumble adds a sense of lurch that makes it quite inviting.

I wouldn’t call it accessible, far from it, in fact. Yet for those who like music that sets a sense of diabolical groove, the music presented here in "Dead Cool" is often not alienating either. The aforementioned title track might go on a few minutes too long for its simple construction and even teeters on boredom, but the album gets much better, even superb by the end.

With eight songs that run less than half-an-hour, "Dead Cool" is usually thought of as the Chrome Cranks' most straightforward work. Unlike the first album, the tunes here often feature a repetitive instrumental hook at its heart and the rest of the track is made out of noisy chaos strewn unsystematically throughout. There may be a structure from the repetition, but it feels loose and unrestricted.

"Way-Out Lover"’s bass bubbles in a sense of groove, while Lost Woman has a country twang at the start and then jumps into a wild instrumental with reckless drums by Bob Bert (Pussy Galore and early Sonic Youth) while Aaron and William Weber’s guitars and that bass seem to kick each other in a race to a distant finish line. When it gets dizzily fast, it locks into the country groove that it used at the beginning before the end.

"Shine It On" is the best song here. The steadfast rocker rumbles through four minutes of organized musical anarchy, and Aaron hoarsely screams as if the syllables will burst into fragments of ashes after an inferno. The rest of the songs are nearly just as solid, if simplified. When "Dead Cool" ends, one realizes it invokes the title--as when finishing the record one feels the need to boast about it as if they just got laid. And that, my friends, is something to be proud of, indeed. - Nick Schwab



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