Monday, August 12, 2013

Kill Creek Colors of Home Second Nature 2001

Kill Creek Colors of Home Second Nature 2001 CAT# SN026

I love Kill Creek, probably more so than any other local band.  I was in high school when they started releasing on the Mammoth label and in terms of local bands, these guys were the top dog.  This was the 90's local band that was "going to make it."

The 'Stretch' EP was a solid outing, a bit grunge-a-fied, but a solid 5 song set.  'St. Valentine's Garage' was a perfect high school album.  It was angry at times, sappy at times, and had hooks.  Second, local producer extraordinaire Ed Rose and Kill Creek singer Scott Born wrote possibly the best liner notes in the history of rock n' roll on that album.  Then, my junior year, they put out 'Proving Winter Cruel.'  At that time, it was a total buzz kill.  Why did this band get so damn sad about things?  That CD sat on the shelf for some time.  I still played the crap out of Stretch and St. Valentine's and put the band on mix tapes galore (if you want to impress a girl, hit her up with 'Million' off St. Valentine's, total panty dropper).

Later, say two years, I got to college and things got complicated.  Work, school, and relationships became tough to balance.  I was at JCCC, a lot of friends and my girlfriend were at KU.  Queue 'Proving Winter Cruel' for long drives back and forth.  Holy shit!  Why hadn't I paid more attention to this album?  It was incredible.

At this time, Kill Creek wasn't doing much.  I believe Mammoth had dropped them shortly after 'Proving'.  I began sending the band emails through their website.  I began listening on-line to stuff they put up for the 'Whimsy' album that never came out.  Scott Born started emailing me back, so did other members of the band.  Emails were exchanged which made 'Proving Winter Cruel' that much better for me.

I started championing the band; really spreading the word on 'Proving Winter Cruel' to friends and people in bands.  Surprisingly, so were a lot of other people in the local scene.  It was like we all spontaneously re-discovered this band's greatness.

And that is one of the great things about local music.  On the 'St. Valentine's Garage' tour, Kill Creek played an all ages show at Gee Coffee in Shawnee, KS.  There was well over 300 kids there, kids under the age of 18 like myself.  Well, they didn't all leave the music scene.  Many of those kids formed their own bands, wrote for zines, worked for KJHK, and even started labels.  None of us forgot about Kill Creek and like I said, it's like we all revisited 'Proving Winter Cruel' at an age when it spoke to us.

So, despite being out of it for nearly 5 years, Kill Creek was sucked right back in.  They started playing shows and we all went again.  This time as young adults (well, adult may be a stretch).  Dan Askew, who started up Second Nature was one of those people.  Second Nature had been putting out local hardcore and metal, but, I think the guy who really got Dan interested in the band was Nathan Ellis of Coalesce and Casket Lottery.  I have no proof for that other than Nathan is a featured player on this LP and featured in bands on Dan's label.  Dan got the rights to the catalog and somehow released a compilation entitled 'The Will to Strike', which is a virtual anthology of the band.  He also released this album.

I was honestly scared to listen to the LP when it came out.  Here is a band 5 years out of the loop trying to give it another go.  The idea has train wreck written all over it.  Surprisingly, it's solid effort.  The train-wreck part happened because like other Kansas bands, no one outside Kansas was paying attention.  And, for Kill Creek if they weren't paying attention before, they sure as hell weren't in 2001.

The reviews that surrounded the LP in the indie-circles weren't too favorable either.  Most of them group the band in with the likes of the Get Up Kids and Anniversary calling them a Midwest emo band.  Which is absurd, the band was contemporaries to early Midwest KC bands like Shiner and Giants Chair, but sounded nothing like them.  Outside of the obvious influence the band imparted on bands like the Get Up Kids and the Anniversary, they don't have much to do with that scene.  Kill Creek is far more routed in 80's punk-ish power pop.  If there's an angular "emo" sound, it comes from 80's groups like Mission of Burma and Big Dipper, not Sunny Day Real Estate.

The other comforting part of this LP for me was the familiarity I had with the songs.  A lot of these songs came from the never finished 'Whimsy' project.  It also features a local rock all star cast, the previously mentioned Nathan Ellis, Twani Freeland, the members of the band obviously, and Ed Rose at the helm producing.  The song "Gett Up" is among the best things the band ever did and sets the tone for a great album.  The band actually found a groove in their old age.  Not just heartbroken pop tunes that you scream or cry to, now you could also dance.  It's a blends the crunchy guitars and hooks of 'St. Valentine's' with the roots rock of 'Proving Winter Cruel'.  Shame it came out about 6 years too late, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't mattered, the band was cursed.

Gett Up
Grandfather's Left Side

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