Smalltown: Since I wasn’t out buying punk records when the Clash were active (I was digging Pac Man Fever), I didn’t experience that first-hand jolt between London Calling and Sandinista. It’s amazing to me how many expectations are heaped on bands—bands I like—and if they change in unexpected ways, it’s a reevaluation and the fear that they’ll never be as good as their first stuff. I have faith in Smalltown, so I listened to this several times before making a call. The songs are slower, taking their time, reflecting, with an organ in back. And it’s great stuff, much in line with how the Swingin’ Utters and Filthy Thieving Bastards still remain faithful to their first firecrackers but aren’t picking up the ashes and trying to convince themselves, nor their fans, that those’ll blow up in the same way again. The Crump: I’m now convinced that the Japanese have fully functional time machines and they’re not sharing the technology with us American slobs. The Crump, somehow, take mid-’90s Midwest pop punk and put it right at the feet of the altar of early Elvis Costello. Finger snapping, toe tapping good stuff.
–todd (Snuffy Smiles)