Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves
Shortly After Take-Off
Last night, I watched the latest episode of the now-lackluster Six Feet Under (what happened HBO? I had so much riding on you. You are going to drive me to reading, you know that, right?) and its only saving grace, the only point where I got a glimpse of complexities of love they used to mine with such gleeful and sick abandon, was the use of The Pretenders' "Back on the Chain Gang" over the closing credits. In that snippet there was more love and loss and pathos and everything than in the whole first two episodes of this season. And just about anything else. I love the Pretenders.
Which is an unfair way to start a review of a female fronted rock band, comparing them to The Pretenders, since, at this moment in my mind, no band is up for it. Plus it's a sexist cop-out to compare them just on the fact that the lead singer of both groups have girl parts instead of boy parts. So forget I said anything. Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves is a great little rock band I had the distinct pleasure of seeing perform live a few weeks back when they opened for Spoon. No punk caterwaul, no reliance of cutesy girlisms like that Lolita-meets-Snuggle Bear voice or a faux torch drone, Sally and her crew deliver great straight-up rock songs about love, leaving, and particularly - cars.
Their first self-titled album surpassed Elastica (a female fronted competitor that they soundly trounce) and even the Cars, whose classic new-wave rock sound they resemble, in car songs. Here on Shortly After Takeoff, the logical single for the record "Good Morning, Aston Martin" keeps the checkered flag flying while the excellent "Rear View Mirror" makes a sweet beautiful relationship-as-race analogy, with that new wave staccato rhythm guitar engine rumbling in the forefront, and I won't bring up early Blondie as a reference either, dammit.
These are songs that you hear wedged in between trendy obtuse indie fodder on your local college outpost that make you sigh in relief from all that artiness and bad poetry. Sally's voice - she's neither diva, girl-child nor crone defying the usual categories that a woman is usually to fall into this rock world - is straightforward and upbeat, and would sound best banging out of your car stereo with the windows down. Some other pop gems on this great little hubcap are the jaunty "Game Over" and the stomper "My Heart's a Motorway" temporarily moving her heart from behind the wheel to the asphalt. But really, there is nary a bad song in the lot. Chalk this up in the tradition of great summer albums like De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising and The Beastie Boys' Ill Communication and‚Äîdammit, I was also going to say the Breeders' Last Splash, but no- I won't go there.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com