CD | INIT-45
out of print
"I don't really know what there is to say about Kidcrash's "Jokes" besides the fact that it is one of the finest emo albums of the past year. I guess I could start the review out with some kind of abstract relation like they're a combination of Off Minor's spazzed out math sound and the early Slint swiping groups like Maximillian Colby. But, Kidcrash really lacks the dynamic persuasion of those bands. It is obvious that the band was formally a big fan of the Kinsella projects and in more appropriate terms the entire mid-west emo sound, but they also seem to riff into heavy chord sections that are reminiscent of the current European emo sound that bands like Daitro and Sed Non Satiata are pushing. I suppose I'll resort to describing Kidcrash as a band that seems to mesh all of the current trends in emo into one insanely well-made package.
The album opens up with the lengthy intro of "Turtlelephant" which almost makes the band seem like they're going to be exchanging Don Caballero style swells but then the vocally dense screams push their way into the song and the mood is changed into some sort of late '90s hardcore song. It is a brilliant strategy that Kidcrash essentially works the entire album. Where a band like Off Minor uses its math rock or jazz influence to create huge increases of sound and large decreases into silent beauty, Kidcrash does not possess this dynamic persuasion in their music. Instead most of the time Kidcrash relies on exploiting the crazy technical side of their music which means they're basically never playing the same note through out the entire album. The band certainly isn't "Hot Crossing" all over the album but they are making extreme benefit of the idea that every note should trigger a specific harmony and in most cases it works fantastically. Highlights on the album include the completely instrumental "Kissed By A Roach From The Grave" and the supposed epic "Aconduit Rather Than A Vault".
Perhaps the main flaw in Kidcrash's sound isn't even something it can control due to its obvious low budget. The production and mixing on this album seem very unattractive in assisting the brilliant sounds the band is creating. With a group like Jerome's Dream the complete amateur sound of the record helped the band create extremely dense, depressing technical pieces. But, Kidcrash isn't really playing a very dense sound; they would be much more successful if they were given some more lush, refined production that helped the gorgeous tones on this record flourish. Sure, some of the songs on the album can get a little stale due to the seemingly lack of dynamics but this is just a minor gripe as most of the material on this album is brilliant. Due to the lacking of crescendo based cathartic releases the album is given in my opinion a more beneficial replay value because every song has various trigger moments that are extremely enjoyable. Instead of one ultimate pay off there are a series of smaller but just as enjoyable sections.
With "Jokes" Kidcrash has insured themselves a large amount of press from the underground hardcore scene which will probably place them in the ranks of a band like Ampere or Daitro who are at the forefront of the genre. So, if you really want to be hip with all those internet suave emo realists, I suggest you give this album a look." (4.5)
"Every once in a while a band will pull a complete one-eighty in their sound between albums, and while the reasons for such a shift are often undisclosed, the results always have a bit of a curious appeal. In this case, it's Init Records' Kidcrash, a group whose 2004 debut record, New Ruins, was a slice of pop/emo rock along the lines of Park, a far cry from the instrumentally driven screamo heard on this sophomore release, Jokes. A few clean melodies may have survived the the jump between albums, but without the name, the Kidcrash of today would be impossible to link to the Kidcrash of old. And unlike many other bands who have attempted such a radical shift, these guys pulled it off, for Jokes is a fine piece of musicianship, and a must have in this genre.
Kidcrash's ability to write excellent guitar parts that wind themselves around driving bass lines is the foundation of Jokes. Whether it's heard in the up-tempo, Hot Cross-esque intro of "Parrots Just Don't Understand" or the cleaner sections in songs like "Life Was Real. Vital. Urgent. Important/Bum Guts," this quality is what makes the disc. Much like their screamo peers in Balboa, Kidcrash handles their transitions with ease, despite the fact that the material on Jokes is far more spastic and unpredictable than that of Balboa's work. The album closer, "Swingsets and Frozen Grapes," is a meticulously crafted track that slowly builds from a single clean guitar into an explosive mid-song climax. The track continues to alternate between melodic passages and short, but intense outbursts, all tied together with fluid songwriting and sporadic screaming. And although the climaxes never reach a cathartic level of Saetia proportions, their ability to make such sudden shifts while maintaining a cohesive sound is rather impressive.
Kidcrash's sparing use of vocals is yet another high point. Music comes first on the disc, and the occasional scream fits well with Jokes' otherwise instrumentally driven nature. The slightly hollow screams work perfectly to accentuate the disc's periodic eruptions, but would have potentially became tiresome had they been responsible for carrying more weight. But as it stands, the current dosage of vocals on Jokes is near-ideal and quite enjoyable.
Bottom Line: The drastic change in Kidcrash's style between 2004's New Ruins and this year's Jokes is definitely for the better. Their one-dimensional pop/emo rock sound of old has been replaced with a spastic, yet still well-transitioned, melodic screamo style that fans of the genre should definitely be able to get behind. Anyone into melodic screamo, or even those who just enjoy instrumentally driven songwriting, should check this out."(8/10)
The first thing to say about Jokes is the overall transformation the band went to create this record. Gone are the charming, almost scenebandesquethatwouldblowawayMotionCitySoundtrack vocals, and are replaced with dense, incredibly passionate screams. Gone is the deadpan, boring rhythm section, and in its place is a frantic explosion of pure technicality and a steady beat that's not hard to follow. On this level, and on this view of the record, they're a totally different band.
But, to an extent, they're not all that different. What can be regarded as kept is the band's technicality. If anything, the technicality is at an entirely new level. The guitarists are jumping off the wall with impressive dynamics that have the energy of a sugar-high nine-year-old. In songs like "Life Was Real, Vital, Urgent, Important/Bum Guts," the band can barely keep up with themselves in terms of dynamics. What separates them from most bands is the amount of emotion they put into their playing. I don't think I've seen so much introspection in a band with so much technicality. The dynamics between clean tones and all-out chordal aggression seems so limitless, and it gives them much space to expand and delve further into their chill parts (which are one of the leftovers from New Ruins. And while the parts on this record are much more heartfelt and emotional, there is no denying the ultimate truth of what's leftover from their Midwest indie days). Rarely does the band carry out a riff too long, and if they do, they change it around by putting it in different keys and tones.
What's probably the album's meditation is the "epic" "Ron Ghousley's Fucked Up Dream," a heavy dynamic of a song that keeps changing and progressing from heavy to light to technical for over eight beautiful minutes; the band jump from fast-paced technicality, to intense riffing and screaming, to beautiful breakdowns filled with "twinkly" guitars, all while keeping a passionate cathartic approach that many bands lack. Every piece of instrumentation is right on target, with the band hitting note after note beautifully, and keeping everything lush and on track. The screams are subtle, but overall very effective. They're back in the mix, but the singer seems to be screaming to fight back the slightly sub-par production. As a whole, it's an excellent manifestation of the album.
Freshness is something lacking in today's scene, as bands seem to be overusing boring clich˙s in an attempt to create something of the old days. But alongside bands like Circle Takes the Square, Off Minor and Gospel, the Kidcrash create some of the most refreshing music any scene has ever heard."(4.5/5)
"Kidcrash's Jokes is an album that has received significant praise from those with their ear to the current emo scene, but has yet to receive the broader attention it fully deserves. Unlike certain records that are overly stylized in an attempt to cater to the whims of the adherents of a given subgenre, Jokes' rich and emotionally evocative tracks have deep crossover potential. I wouldn't describe the album as easily digestible, but would be surprised if fans of more well-known artists such as Thursday weren't able to enjoy this.
I'm not going to front with respect to my emo knowledge. While I love early Dischord classics, have sat with some of the Gravity catalogue and occasionally throw on Off Minor, my attention to the current incarnation of the genre is lacking. However, I've heard enough to know that Kidcrash has crafted nine tracks of beautifully melodic and intricate, emotional hardcore that serve to carve out their own niche while maintaining the spirit of the genre’s pioneers.
A significant chunk of emo is characterized by visceral vocals, and while the vocals on Jokes are certainly raw, they take a back seat to the lush and frenzied soundscapes Kidcrash has birthed. The record has plenty of technical and spastic moments, but they never overpower the soul of the songs. At their best, many of the instrumental moments remind me of Dakota/Dakota's Shoot In The Dark (an entirely instrumental record from the band that served as the precursor to Russian Circles). The buzz I'm hearing from those that closely follow the emo scene supports the notion that Jokes is one of the year's most memorable releases. I'd go a step further and recommend this as an album to check out regardless of your genre predilections. It has enough substance to please a variety of underground musical palates."- Mike B.
"The Kidcrash put out a fabulous debut in 2004 called New Ruins. It was a pleasant mixture of mathy emo with clean vocals. The album showed a great deal of promise for the young band. However, a funny thing happened after the band moved from their native New Mexico to the fertile grounds of Portland, Oregon. The band underwent a severe change in sound.
As much as the band might want to shy away from what New Ruins offered, there remains some of those same noticeable influences on Jokes. The instrumental prowess has certainly continued to flourish and in fact dominates Kidcrash's later releases. The clean vocals have been offset by impassioned screams and there is an incredible aggression in the band's music now that was missing before. The way the band's songs travel such a winding scenic road reminds me of the fantastic Pyramids album Following The Tracks, Forcing Motion Through Phases. Both bands have an epic quality to their music that is so engrossing.
There will be debate among many of which sound best suits Kidcrash. It is virtually impossible to hold New Ruins and Jokes side by side and make a fair comparison. What can be agreed upon is the amazing strength of both releases. The two albums showcase the talent and ambition of Kidcrash. The past is the past though. Jokes is where Kidcrash presently reside. Who knows what lies ahead for the band. I do know I will be following along and I am sure it will continue to be an impressive journey. RIYL: Pyramids, Daitro, Off Minor"
New Scheme, The #17:
"It takes all of about 30 seconds of opening track, "Turtlelephant" before I'm wondering why this is the first I've heard of these Olympia natives. Sure, they only have one other proper CD release (New Ruins on Lujo a few years back). But the raw urgency of the opening track alone is so jarringly refreshing and tightly constructed that immediate fandom is unavoidable. There are two distinct elements to Kidcrash's sound. First is a jagged, meandering mid-90's emo influence. Various Kinsella projects come to mind, as well as Garden Variety, or even Mineral. The guitar lines especially are melodic and winding, but on a constant collision course as well. The rhythm section and vocals both add a more confrontational and frantic feel, which leans toward later post-hardcore. Standouts like Daitro, Off Minor or Red Scare make pretty clear (though incomplete) reference points as well.
The overriding, defining elements of Jokes are urgent delivery and chaotic arrangements. Neither thing is particularly rare, nor is a combination of the two. What makes Kidcrash so noteworthy is in the details and careful construction of the songs. Through nine relatively lengthy songs (totally more than 40 minutes), there are dense arrangements, but don't have to club you over the head with them. The dynamics are impressive, though without a lot of sudden shifts in volume or tempo. There are plenty of sudden changes, in fact much of the record is based on them. But they never rely on easy tricks, or obvious curveballs to make a point. Careful, well-coordinated shifts usually involve all four instruments at once. They are sudden, but more substantial changes, which really do make the record.
Let's face it - there have been a lot of bands trying to find the next crazy, choppy and frantic extreme in emotional hardcore for decades. They have employed every silly gimmick they can think of, for results that vary widely. But Kidcrash seems to have really focused on every detail of their songwriting, within a time-tested two guitars, bass and drums lineup. The results are impressive, on the first and the twentieth listens and Jokes is easily one of the best records anywhere near this genre that I've heard in years."- Stuart Anderson