Thursday, 23 October 2008

Review - Cruiserweight - Big Bold Letters

Cruiserweight - Big Bold Letters

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5 out of 10

So then, you may well be asking who are Cruiserweight? Well, as their press release answers that one far better than I ever could:

"Cruiserweight is a female-fronted Pop / Rock band from Austin, TX, who have shared the stage with bands like Hot Water Music, The Get Up Kids, Saves The Day, Dashboard Confessional, and American Hi Fi. "

Unfortunately from here onwards the press release spiralled off into some pretty weird directions, talking about Cruiserweight's tour van getting hijacked by Osama Bin Laden, which is not what I look for in a press release. In fact I just wanted to know a bit about their influences and their work to date. Instead I was informed that.

"There are no mantras. We don't feel restricted by what's cool or acceptable right this minute - if we did, we'd stand no chance of lasting, and then the Thanksgiving dinner that followed the break-up would be a little bleak. We just do what we love - it's the only thing that feels right. Shit, maybe that's our mantra. And you know who hates cheesy optimistic mantras? That's right. Terrorists."

Do terrorists hate cheesy optimistic mantras? I cannot say as I tend to consort with terrorists. If I do however choose to consort with terrorists at any point in the future I think the following question, would be pretty close to the bottom on my list of conversations starters.

"Do you hate cheesy optimistic mantras made by female fronted Pop Punk bands from Texas? Is that why you want to blow shit up?"

The press release does not disappoint in its twisted tendencies, instead finishing in full stride,

"We embody the American dream. We're gonna have a big-ass American flag airbrushed on the side of our van next week. not really. But it's plain to see how I could actually think that Al Qaeda is after us. No matter what stands in our way, you know who'll prevail. Go ask George W. Bush. C-R-U-I-S-E-R-W-E-I-G-H-T spells FREEDOM, bitches. Hallelujah."

I some how doubt that any faction of Al Qaeda have serious issue with Cruiserweight specifically over any other Western Pop band. Further more I doubt that George Dubya could spell freedom or Cruiserweight, but once again I think I would have more pressing queries to put to him if I had the opportunity.

This press release gets 2/10. Having taken care of that it is time to deal with the record itself.

The opening track, "Calling you from hell", is a power strummed acoustic number from the group's female vocalist that sounds like it was recorded on an in MP3 player in a motel bathroom - in a good way of course. It is short and stark and an unexpected beginning for a 'Punk' record. It then kicks straight into "Balboa", reputedly the first single and after the group name the first of many bizarre boxing references that reoccur through out the album.

"Been lying on the mat too long
I always thought I was unfit to be strong
And I thought a change would never come
But I could be wrong
Slim chance for an underdog
Glued down on my knees
I was a mess back then
I never knew when was when"

The lyrics seem to allude to relationships with a sparkling Pop Punk sheen of catching riffs and palm muted chugs. if Sylvester Stallone chose to make another Rocky movie and used this track for the theme it would probably sink the rocky franchise into the realms of "Robocop 4: (Prime Directives)" or "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master", which was released with a music video of Freddy Kruger collaborating on the track "Are you ready for Freddy?" with the overweight 1980's rap group The Fat Boys.

"Distraction" sounds reminiscent of old school Offspring, pounding drums and brooding riffs, which suddenly jumps into soaring vocals more akin to Blink 182.

"Burst the bubble" has more elusions to violent sports, or as least knee capping people with a baseball bat which could be considered a sport in certain circles. Yet there is no lyrical reference to the classic arcade game Bubble Bobble which is a missed opportunity for sure. There are good choruses and breaks, but to interject does Cruiserweight have a video with skateboarding in it? "Burst the bubble" defiantly should, I can just imagine some washed up ex pro (like Jason Lee?) eating shit on a twelve stair hand rail as the song shifts to it's refrain.
"I did it to myself" has no lyrical content about masturbation while the morose guitar parts sound reminiscent of "Epic" by faith no more. "Sustainer" could really be a song about Viagra, but once again has no lyrical references to sexual health; it begins with spacey Radioheadesque riffs before tripping into familiar Pop Punk territory

"You don't get it" is more of an Indie affair sitting nearer to the Arctic Monkeys with a swinging rhythm and a belting chorus. "Spread like fingers" is a more sedate affair, like a Sheryl Crow track about a break up or something similar, though I am pretty sure it is not about how readily AIDS spreads. Boxing references are a plenty, covet commentary on sexual health all but absent.

"Spread like fingers" is another candidate for the genre I have being imagining as of recent (and trying to reality). It is called 'Dawson's Creek Core': Fast pounding pop punk with fast rolling bass, short and clean or else bleeding heart sparkly melodies that can be set in perfect time to pretty teenagers crying about their best friend being gay.

"When will you dig" (Turtle necks?) is a title that moves away from possible sexual innuendos, while musically is more spacey and brooding, almost Emo. At this point any novelty the record held begins to wear off: there are some lyrics about Richmond, Virginia and some interesting chords but otherwise it all gets rather formulaic. "You were right" can sure lay claim to some choppy riffs and off beat drums as it steadily gets harder while "(That's my) Hammer Time" is filled with dark palm muted chugging, morose vocals and a general ambience that leaps up and down, but there are few surprises. In addition it sounds nothing like MC Hammer which was rather disappointing. "We totally still love each other" sounds vaguely like The Killers in the verses, yet once again it is much of the same in the chorus, only occasionally cutting into reggae off beats and ringing notes.

If there is ever a teen pop drama set in Southern California centred on female boxers put into production Cruiserweight will be riding the streets of Austin in gold plated Cadillacs. As far as female fronted Punk groups go they don't even come close to the full on, fuck you Punk aesthetic of The Distillers or the timeless quality of The Pretenders. While the press release was a complete disaster the music was generally better, still I cannot really hate and nor really like it, instead I can merely make silly jokes about the titles of their songs.


1. Calling You From Hell
2. Balboa
3. Distraction
4. Burst The Bubble
5. Sustainer
6. You Don’t Get It!
7. Spread Like Fingers
8. Slack
9. When Will You Dig?
10. Envelope
11. You Were Right
12. (That’s My) Hammer Time
13. We Totally Still Love Each Other

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