Crypt Trip Get Back To Their Roots
By: Jay Armstrong
Sure I’ve written warmly about them before, sure seeing them on a bill raises the quality standard of an excuse I need to stay under a blanket reading for the night, yet there has always been an underlying intangible which kept me from fully subscribing to Crypt Trip. There were sporadic notable flashes certainly but where were they truly at in all of it? Where was their voice and what the hell did it have to say? Their latest album Rootstock does well to make sense of the rift previously unbridgeable between respect and fandom. We now see a band beginning to chip away at that postmodern Sabbath bordering on sludge demeanor borne like a cross on their first offering. Defining their limitations by championing genre loyalty was an anchor on their creativity, we begin to see a band acutely aware of the box they were too talented to cram into by choice. We now hear a band embracing their environment as a cultivation of self-worth. The art of BEING goes hand in hand with the precise moment a band exists on the timeline of creativity unique only to this nucleus in the heart of Texas. The bands who embrace it are who matter, those are the bands whose mark indelibly remains through time immortal. It has been this way since the beginning, whether conscious of it or not that is what drew all of us here, the spirit of the whole damn thing. Sahm, Van Zandt, The Skunks, Fuckemos, A Giant Dog and every band who mattered in between, all have that underlying spirit of one adding to the other, taking cues from those before them and reshaping them into their own. In the beginning that was the prerequisite to the whole thing, not just here but universally, as a collective, that is how we got The Beatles, that is how we got the Stones. Rock n roll may have lost its way but Austin has not. Even the cardboard paint by bland numbers sadly glorified existence of The Black Angels falls in line– it is confounding to say that about the Angels since they manage to equally subscribe generically to the ethos ALL having found immediate success through a general populace hungry for something floating on the fringes of corporate America while coming across as though they are detached from it. The Black Angels are the Mumford and Sons of psychedelia and we should be ashamed for allowing their bloated rotting egos to be propped up so long in this town. So even if you and I are unable to find much common ground at least we will always be able to collectively thank god Crypt Trip manage to conjure through this new direction all that which should always remain holy in this town and are doing it with purity of which uninspired bands such as The Black Angels never could do. In that we are lucky. (I speak on my own behalf here and not for Anon Magazine as a whole, someone on staff is bound to be a fan so before you ACL loving flower headband wearing pitchfork loyalists start sending in your “can’t believe the nerve” hate mail, make sure you address it to me personally to ignore rather than to the zine itself. Is Pitchfork still around even? Do people still worship them? I digress)
In comparison Rootstock is less congealed than their previous albums, before we could press play and get lost in the positive wash with minor hints of incredible rising up through interventions here and there. What we heard then was a band showing us why they exist, this one speaks more to how, stringing out eight perfect examples as eternal cliff notes towards us giving a shit, not just for their place in the moment soundtracking our wild yet enigmatic lives but beyond such trite admiration, beginning for the first time to stake a substantial place in the annals of Texas lore. Criticism is both beautiful and necessary, so to say they have arrived would be a bit too grandiose a statement; for the first time Crypt Trip boldly find themselves stomping their boots down the path towards Bukowski’s optimist somewhere, the importance of such steps should not be negligently observed.
The album opens with the five minute instrumental “Heartslave,” an homage to their previous work, a hushed “we’re still here” kind of reawakening– nothing new is offered yet something is gained by hearing them attach so well to what they created before. They follow it up with “Boogie No.6” which is a minute and a half of nothing new more of the same then that ideal pause–wait for it–wait for it– in a blinding tremor the album shifts into second gear slamming us back into our seat with a holy litany of free spirit rock n roll, all denim and backroads, unshowered pure aggro self-assurance. It is beautiful. Beautiful in sound and more so beautiful in hearing a band no longer dodging a hundred years of inspiration. If the Ramones couldn’t get around it, sure as hell no California transplant in one of the other bands often on the same bill as Crypt Trip are ever gonna pull it off. In the same way watching a tough biker admit feeling sadness or to hear ones father speak on where they have tried and failed is read by all around as a sign of strength, so too is a band dropping that lone wolf facade. What is left this side of GG Allin one could see as unique or original? “Just play some goddamn music from the heart,” the onlookers scream, “the first fifteen years of this century were barely breathable. Give us something real!” Maybe I’m overly optimistic but Crypt Trip seem to have heard that cry and are beginning to answer the call.
The title Rootstock seemed weak when first hearing of the album on the way, without knowing what that title represented, having listened through it the four or five times a voice of reason cynically shouts out from my subconscious, “what else should it be called?!?” And that is the point. Some bands give you nothing with an album title, between their self-titled and now Rootstock one would be left to assume this is a band acutely aware of where they are on their path and what that output in this moment as a whole represents. The future? To believe what we hear now is some ultimatum of where they are heading would be foolish, though including such a pathos of inspiration so early in their time in our lives does bode well for assuming that wherever they arrive tomorrow will be free of the limitations I falsely assumed would be the case for these guys while absorbing their first album. Room is left to grow, still the steps are more powerful than what we are hearing from the confused directionlessness noise bahhhhing of their peers. I am pretty stoked for the future of Crypt Trip and the residual effects such a bold statement tonally expressed could mean for the rest of their circle this year. We need these separate camps to be entwined once more; Loteria and Bad Lovers shouldn’t be so far removed from the Spray Paint/Xetas crowd, there was a time when that was not the case, we lost our way somewhat and all of us know it, these San Marcos homies are bridging that gap in a huge way, their humble unawareness of this fact makes them worth championing all the more. Even dead, rock n roll can still save us, Crypt Trip are doing their part to prove it once more.