Beginning with a rocking riff, the opening track (“Be Young/Sois Jeune”) of Crooked Bang’s self-titled debut release starts off the listening experience of the album with a bang. Soon enough, the vocals come in – immediately punk and very much in French. While listening, I instantly felt like I had transported to a dark and gothic club in France to watch a three piece band slam their bodies and their instruments around in the audience while playing dark-wave kraut-punk. I felt like I had died my hair black and cut it to be above my chin; I felt like I was wearing a mixture of leather and feathers. One word in particular comes to mind as I listened to the album: “raw.” Which is the same exact word that ran through my mind when I did happen across Crooked Bangs at a Free Week show earlier this year at Red 7.
The band had been playing a bizarre mixture of fuzzy kraut-rock-influenced dark-wave punk to a mostly metal-head crowd. To set the scene, some of the bigger local bands on the bill that night included Tia Carrera, Woodgrain, and Eagle Claw. Yet somehow it worked, as I remember looking into the audience and seeing the majority of a large conglomeration of long-haired Austinites bopping their heads and wiggling their hips as Leda, Phil, and Samantha commanded the stage and played their old-school brand of music that is quite unique compared to many of Austin’s other wave, gothic or punk influenced bands.
Crooked Bangs is playing a style of music that I really have not heard much of in this city as of yet, and it is their genre individuality which piques my interest. But despite keeping their individuality as a band, this is not held up as much at the level of the song on the album. Not that their songs sound like other band’s songs (which they do not), but because each song on the album is very short (only one track is more than three minutes long) and because of the repetitive nature of their French-gloom-punk, each track tends to sound the same as the last one. Overall, however, the record is an enjoyable listen – one that somehow succeeds in seamlessly blending a gloomy gothic sound with an upbeat “bright” punk sort of sound, even if the casual listener may not be able to tell most of the songs apart from one another.
One of the songs did stand out in particular for me though, “Something/Wolves Will Crush.” When this track came on, I couldn’t help but imagine Crooked Bangs as a love child between The Smiths and The Cure who had been raised in France and who happened to be influenced by a little 60’s surf-rock as well.
Crooked Bangs are one of the bands in Austin that is definitely worth checking out. See them at their SXSW official showcase on Tuesday, March 12th at Headhunters.
– Brittany Bartos