Boy Life S/T Crank! A Record Company 1995 CAT #CRC004
First, the mid-90's was an amazing time for KC & Lawrence's music scenes and it was an amazing time for indie rock. However, it was an awful time for vinyl. If a band was on a "true" indie in the 90's that was other than say, Matador, they were lucky if the album was mastered for vinyl. Rather, and likely to save money, the CD master was slapped onto vinyl in effort to be cost effective and still give the indie-rockers what they wanted at shows. Crank! was no exception, this pressing suffers problems and I remember the CD version sounding much more crisp. Just saying.
Moving onto the album, in highschool, this was as cool as a Fugazi record. I mean these guys were relentless. Out of tune guitars blazing, their early days were frenzied attacks on song structure. And, they were in or near my hometown, that was exciting.
The band was picked up by the Crank! label after founder, Jeff Matlow, put out the first Vitreous Humor 7". Matlow was familiar with the local scene after signing the Manhattan band, Truck Stop Love, to the Scotti Brothers label as an A&R guy. When Scotti Brothers refused to sign Vitreous Humor on the account that they already had a band from Kansas, Matlow quit and decided to go it alone. Along the way, he picked up some other locals. He signed Boys Life and another Kansas City band, Uncrush. His label brought a ton of attention to the area. And, when Crank! released Mineral's Power of Failing, suddenly, Viterous Humor and Boys Life became associated with the developing emo scene.
The record isn't emo. It's post-hardcore. Similar to Jawbreaker, Quicksand, and Fugazi. It was recorded by Mark Trombino from Drive Like Jehu and it shows. Trombino didn't let the band hold back, it goes from a restrained whisper to an all out assault. The LP does suffer a bit of same-ness, in that, after a while, you get it, they're going to whisper, scream, guitar feedback, end. It's a bit formulaic. However, the out of tune guitars and occasional out of key yelps keep it interesting. Second, working with Trombino allowed the band to explore their genre and develop as a band. The song 'Temporary' which was first recorded for a split 7" with Vitrous Humor (previously discussed) is slowed down here, showing the band was focused on sound and texture and not just old punk rock tricks. And sure, they borrow from Drive Like Jehu, but this is Kansas City, we had no fucking clue who that band was until we heard this.
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