Crescent Little Waves

[FatCat; 2007]

Styles: environmental folk oddity, autumnal acoustic
Others: Iron & Wine, 1930’s gramophone records, Movietone

The volume knob on my stereo is wearing out, wheeling like a loose button on a cardigan sweater. The reason? It’s these gosh-forsaken whispering singers. You know the type — hushed, reserved, and meditative — of the Iron & Wine ilk. Here, with Crescent, we’ve got something similar — we’ll call it copper and apple cider. I hate to do that, because Bristol-based Crescent, a band with dues well paid, deserves better. Why they’ve chosen to diverge onto this route of near-silent simpering is beyond me. Today, in this “independent” “culture” of “individuals” — alternative/underground music — too many take the same trodden roads. These avenues should be dreaded by undecided musicians, not naively navigated.

Matt Jones, the spearhead of the Crescent conglomerate, is found here sounding like Patti Smith imitating Iggy Pop on The Idiot, but even drowsier on downers. The band follows suit (a raggedy, frayed thrift suit), sounding like it will fall to timbers at any moment, sprinkling like Christmas tinsel and pine needles, leaving a trail on the carpet and out the front door to the curb. The music ends up consisting of only a quaver and a barely-metronomic beat, haphazardly accented by clarinet, ukulele, xylophone, and backup vocals sung through a conch. The music squeaks, ekes, and squeals like the castor wheels of a trundle bed.

Crescent are like a rural Flying Saucer Attack. And here — third paragraph, fourth listen — I find myself getting over the fact they scampered off into a trendy subgenre. I was all set to issue an awful rating and make an even worse joke about their album artwork (“The band’s called Crescent. It’s a wonder why the album art is decorated with awkward child-drawn dodecadodecahedrons” — snare/snare/cymbal crash.)

If you listen to it closely enough, enough times, Little Waves becomes kind of cute — or at least country cute. There are smidgens of individuality, but you must dig deep. We’re talking about tearing up the floorboards here and submerging your head beneath the surface — cobweb hair will occur. It’s a challenge, and I question whether Little Waves merits it. Based on their history, what they’ve done previously, and their overall band ethos, I say, yes, they do. This review was written in flux.

Most Read