Kill Creek Proving Winter Cruel Mammoth Records 1996 CAT#MR-0135
Someday, this album is going to get its due. It's gotten in the Lawrence scene, it's an accepted masterpiece here. But, I'm talking nationwide, this album is going to get discovered. For Kill Creek, it was a the nail in the coffin album. In 1996 no one wanted to hear Scott Born's divorce album. Sure, several years ago Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend album was a hit and it was about divorce, but it sounded happy. This album was fucking depressing. And, if you put it on because you were a fan of St. Valentine's Garage, well forget it, you didn't want to have anything to do with this. I mean, it was 1996, by this point, all you had to do was do that fake gargle thing Eddie Vedder does and you could get yourself a pretty substantial modern rock hit. You didn't even have to be from Seattle at this point or wear flannel, you just had to act like a pissed off teenager.
Kill Creek had that choice. They could have easily sold out. They had a major label and would have had the support if they dialed it in and served up something easy. But, apparently that never crossed their mind. They rallied behind the broken heart Scott Born and recorded an album no one expected, not even their fans.
And to be fair, it got some local radio play. The song,"Unsteady" was in heavy rotation on the then "sort-of" cool 105.9 FM. But, I'm not sure that meant much and probably had a lot more to do with the support of station programmers than it did people that listened to the station. Outside of 105.9, I don't remember this getting much pub. I would be willing to bet, Mammoth heard it and gave up on it shortly after putting it out. The label was on the verge of going under and probably found it difficult to promote an album filled with references to alcoholism, pills and divorce.
Ultimately, everyone missed the mark on it. Because years later, I'm convinced this is a masterpiece. This is a an adult R-Rated record dealing with heavy topics. Now, as an actual adult, the heartbreak behind it all sounds comforting and familiar. I mean, it sounds like a Wilco album before Wilco existed, yeah, it's that good. And someday, someone important is going to unearth this thing and convince everybody else. I'm sure of it--someday it will be considered a lost classic.
It starts with the hit, 'Unsteady,' and the lyrics, "I'll stay sober when I come home this October, and I'll break the windows and let the chill put us to sleep." The album keeps going from there. In one line, you know exactly what's going on and what the rest of the album entails; cold, loveless relationship, looming divorce and alcohol abuse. The song 'With You Around,' starts with Scott Born almost crying, "Well the cancer of the twisted word has pulled apart the confidence you've encouraged." Holy shit! Right? What a bitch this woman is, that or Born's drug addiction is the source of his twisted reality. The song 'Role Model' about choosing sides in the divorce ends, "To the hurting kind, your some kind of role model. It takes guts to save your pain from your friends." And the song, 'Falsified,' man, it's absurd, hurtful and poetic all at once, "Eight years falsified by the last days. I crushed your pride with the weight of five months crashing down in between us; three nights not one can repair. And our cats are so playful while we fight; they're used to our years of sharpened claws." And it ends on the tune "Punishment" which should be a nod to what Scott Born deserves after putting it all out for consumption like this. I mean, I've seen some people deal with bad divorces, but the fact that Scott Born told ALL makes you almost want to side with his ex. I can't imagine she deserved such vengeance. Coincidentally, the producer of the LP, Ed Rose, once told me they called "Proving [actual ex-wife's name] Cruel" in the studio.
And that's the album, it sounds like a cold. dark, loner, folkie album. Parts of it are, but it's beautiful. You don't get this much reality out of music. It's so autobiographical it's disturbing, but you can't turn away from this train wreck.