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Crime In Stereo
AlbumsThe Troubled Stateside
Fuel. Transit. Sleep. EP
Scotty Giffin - Drums
Mike Musilli - Bass
Alex Dunne - Guitars
Kristian Hallbert - Vocals
Levittown, New York - Crime In Stereo formed just after the turn of the millennium when the music industry was mass-producing Long Islandís fashion metal and emo bands, much like William Levitt cranked out low-cost housing generations earlieróhousing that became the model for scores of post-World War II communities. Crime In Stereo made a conscious decision to remain true to the Long Island scene they were bred on, a more melodic version of New Yorkís hardcore sound. Theyíd follow the model built by bands such as Silent Majority, Kill Your Idols, Milhouse and Inside. Their first album, Explosives And The Will To Use Them [Blackout 2004] was both blueprint and bully-pulpit.
If it seems as of late, Iíve stopped sitting around talking about the bands I hate, maybe Iím starting to relateÖ
Two years later, Crime In Stereo stepped off the soapbox to record their Nitro Records debut. The Troubled Stateside is a study of a touring band, the industry they're up against, the state of their nation, and their impending adulthood. Itís a Long Island punk rock autobiography that hasnít been told since Silent Majorityís 1997 album, Life of a Spectator. Why the thematic shift?
Incapable of holding down real jobs and canít make rent, so for a life in the arts we deem ourselves destinedÖ
ìItís easy to sit at home and dis on other bands,î says guitarist, Alex Dunne, ìand complain how big business is bullshit.î But then youíre on the road with student loans hanging over your head and health insurance to pay. Life, like itís gripping brass-knuckles, hits you in the face. "We're not looking to get rich, nor are we going to change our sound," Dunne continues, "but we recognize as a full-time, touring band we now operate in the business world. If we want to continue to do what we love we gotta get kids out to the shows and sell some records."
Just how much Crime In Stereo love music is not readily apparent. Sure they spend as little time at home as possible, but theyíre not simply killing time. Both Dunne and singer Kristian Hallbert have near terminal health issues. While they wonít bring the subject up, and you certainly wonít hear them complain, you will notice them coming through your town again and again. Every time Crime In Stereo are on the road they risk financial and health ruin. That explains the wealth of insightful lyrics like these from ìSlow Math:î ìAnd who here will say the rate of pay for their working day is not outweighed by their fatigue? The new math of debt and dreams.î
This world has other sorrows than love
Crime In Stereo also take on Americaís short-sightedness. They juxtapose titles like ìSudanî and ìBicycles For Afghanistanî with lyrics keenly reflecting middle-class suburban ennui. ìSo much of this country is surrounded by wealth and affluence,î Dunne says, "that it's hard to get past the everyday convenience of our own lives and be aware of the consequences of our actions on other people. Being an American is like living in Disneyland compared to the rest of the world. I'm not complaining. It's great if you're of the privileged few. But I definitely acknowledge that it is a luxury most will never experience."
Coinciding with The Troubled Statesideís thematic shift is its expanding sound. During their incessant touring schedule Hallbert sharpened his vocal skills. ìOn this record we didnít have to rely on guitar lead melodies,î explains Dunne. Producer Mike Sapone also pushed Hallbert in that direction. The vocals carry a lot more of the melodies especially on songs like ìGravity/Grace.î One senses the bandís ability to move the genre beyond the teenage angst of heavy guitars and shouting vocals. And album closer ìI, Statesideî blends the energy of earlier efforts and the new focus on melody with its soaring guitars and chorus vocals for a new hardcore epic.
Nevertheless, Crime In Stereoís hardcore roots open the album with ìEverything Changes/Nothing Is Ever Truly Lost,î and remain intact throughout. Songs like ìIím On The Guestlist Motherfucker,î ìBicycles For Afghanistan,î and ìSlow Mathî are standard Crime In Stereo fare. Theyíre fast, aggressive and pay off live with their shout-along fodder.
Weíll fix the fat and ugly with incisions. Weíll stash the Gay and liberal up in New England. Weíll keep the Black and poor in (or under constant threat of) prison. And theyíll all feel blessed just for being part of the visionÖ
As hard as it is for touring bands to meet the demands of life while out on the road, Crime In Stereo do anything but feel sorry for themselves. In fact itís just the opposite. Touring brings them face to face with the realities that many Americans face. And they arenít pretty. Crime In Stereoís The Troubled Stateside sets its mark way beyond a mere hardcore autobiography. It very well may be this countryís punk rock jeremiad.
God please save these troubled states