Crazy Band Says Keep Out
Most young bands are prone to a kind of myopia where they can only see their lives and struggles in and out of the van—the shows, the triumph, the dream. Those topics, along with women breaking your heart and shitty double entendres, have made up, historically, about 81 percent of all rock lyrics. The Los Angeles outfit Crazy Band tears that tunnel vision apart, deciding to operate on its own planet. After being enmeshed in a scene high on vibes of positivity, inclusion and friendship-über-alles, they react: "Morals are gay / Get them out of my way!" shouts Jesse Spears on the first track of their debut Fuck You (Teenage Teardrops). The song is six seconds long, and those eight words serve as the only lyrics; the only thing embraced is the politics of no politics.
While the group possesses the stoned laissez-faire of So Cal's au courant beach babies Best Coast and Wavves, their dive back into punk as its primordial form more resembles another bad-kid skate-rat cabal in their town: Odd Future. Anti-intellectual, spitting, nihilist, they worship at the altar (literally!) of dead, shit-eating (literally!) punk singer G.G. Allin.
The six-piece has two young scene veterans—ex-Mika Miko sax player/vocalist Jenna Thornhill DeWitt on sax and Anthony Anzalone, formerly the self-abusing frontman of Mean Reds, on drums. Thornhill DeWitt's sax provides the only truly musical part of the band, which makes for a strange dynamic; she does not bray and bleat, as you expect with a punk-band horn-augment, but instead acts as the calm, melodious eye of the storm. This is the first band of the other four members, which makes for euphonic gnashing and chimey, two-chord songs that chug and shamble.
Spears's flat sing-song voice makes her sound girlier than her 26 years; lines like "Can you lick your own boob? / Did you just run out of lube?" come off like the taunts of a particularly sex-obsessed fifth grader. On "Zen Mafia Tumblr," Spears sings about the Tumblr shared by the band and their "thrash art collective" Zen Mafia (also known by ZMFTW, for "Zen Mafia Fuck The World"). Showing off her punk lungs, she runs down the process of posting ("Image search it / Drag it to the desktop") and enumerates common themes spanning from Thornhill DeWitt's poodle Caramel Bobby to "bongs" to (again) "Girls licking their boobs / Tons of naked dudes."
Her fantastically simple lyrics can be hilarious: On "Drop Out" she urges students of all ages to abandon their studies. "High school or college / I don't give a fuck / Middle school or kindergarten/ I still don't give a fuck"—it's all made even funnier given that it's the most tuneful song on the album, with a lilting sax lead that sounds sentimental when juxtaposed against the seemingly dead-serious Spears.
Spears's lyrics and the band's blog posts are pockmarked by nicknames, obscuring slang, and purposefully poor grammar that apes the sub-literacy of comment threads—and the music matches. Idiosyncratic, sometimes hookless and clanging, the songs are over before you even register them. With a running time shorter than your morning shower, Fuck You is not about appeal or connecting with an audience; the "you" in "fuck you" is not acknowledged. And in a sense, these peeks into Crazy Band's world leave you with the feeling that you'd had to have been there, laughing at their stoned jokes, earning a nickname, to truly get it. But the more Fuck You pushes you away, the more alluring their cool club, in which the agenda seemingly consists of not much more than skating and ripping bong hits and being 25 and loosed upon the world, becomes, and the better their album sounds. Fuck You leaves you on the outside—right where Crazy Band wants you to be.
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