Heritage Hump Day: Crushed - "The Sky Is Curved"
Courtesy of Onus Records
Every Wednesday is Heritage Hump Day! That's because every Wednesday from now to the end of the year or before someone really big stops us, Heritage Hump Records (a temporary subsidiary of Onus Records) and New Times will be bringing you a limited edition collector's item of a much beloved Phoenix band that walked the scorched earth of Arizona before the year 2000 A.D. We will honor that band with a commemorative digital single that you, the digital public, will have only seven days to download to your computers and smart phones before this single gets marked up to an exorbitant price as determined by the mp3 collector community. When that happens, a new Heritage Hump subject will be chosen and the free-for-a-limited-time-only cycle begins anew.
Much in the same mystified state that Robert Plant wondered if anyone remembered laughter, I find myself hypothesizin’ when that new day dawns if anyone will remember CD reviews. Once a regular part of any self-respecting music section, the album review is generally a one or two sentence affair now, and that's if you get a review at all. The best you can hope for now in the way of compact disc praise is a mute “buy this’ or 5 star review on Amazon or iTunes.
I hardly remembered this review of their 2006 album for No Relief Records entitled No Machine that turned up on multiple Crushed fan sites and suspect this Serene Dominic-penned hosanna to the band appeared not in the printed pages of New Times but more likely the dearly departed Zia Zine:
"That Crushed has a long history in the Phoenix music scene and still sounds like a band just getting started excitement-wise is a rare and noble thing.
From the earliest days when you could’ve seen them at the Mason Jar sandwiched between three or four knuckle-dragging metal bands, they’ve always stood out, as if they knew of the existence of records outside of their genre and wanted you to know it too.
To that effect, My Machine has its flashes of metal, goth and industrial sheen, and they programmed three of the heaviest numbers before switching aesthetic gears on “Ether”.
If you can imagine metal playing footsy with Massive Attack, well, you probably don’t need to buy this or any CD, you imaginative listener you.
But you can’t and that’s why you need to grab a-hold of this thing and hear for yourselves how Crushed can suggest Guided By Voices’ effortless brand of indie stadium rock on “Crash Coping” and acoustic Cocteau Twins on “Everything’s Gone”, always moving up and down dynamically and never feeling formulaic, but rather like a band that knows what it’s doing passing you its calling card.
The best thing to recommend Crushed is the peerless vocalizing of Mark Lauer, who to his credit never over-sings anything like most alt-rock metalists working today."
The early years of Crushed's long career are well-outlined in Brian Smith's 1999 profile on the band, from topping Hit Parader year-end readers poll for best new bands to signing a deal with Atlantic Records, but it's the music made in the latter years that the band seems most proudest of. Hence the choosing of this 2007 track "The Sky is Curved," as their Heritage Hump representation.
Says guitarist Mike Halland, "This song was written around 2007 when Harry McCaleb was in the band. We were in rehearsal and Harry was checking his volume and playing the first ‘dun dun’ guitar riff. I chimed in with the run off of that which became the verse. The band started jamming on the groove and out of nowhere I started playing the chords for the chorus and Mark started singing the chorus melody. It was weird how easy and naturally the song came together.
"The powerful rhythm section with Jeff Garten (drums) and Michael Brown (bass) leant itself perfectly to the riffs and Harry played a ripping guitar solo on it. Michael Brown was playing bass when we wrote the song but Paul Surra played bass on the recording.
"Lauer is amazing at coming up with melodies and this is one of my favorites from him. The vocal melody in the chorus sounds kind of reminds me of something Robert Plant would come up with. This one goes down as one of my favorites for sure. The song appeared on our 2008 EP, Shadows and Substance. The record is still available on iTunes through producer Mike Clink’s label ‘No Relief Records.’ All the physical CD’s sold out and since pretty much everything is digital these days, we never did another run of CDs."
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