Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Crownhate Ruin - Until The Eagle Grins

Probably the most crucial, as well as earliest, of the post-Hoover full length albums, 1996's Until The Eagle Grins is a pure beast of a post-hardcore record. Personally, it's not my favourite (that would be Radio Flyer's slightly later In Their Strange White Armor) but its quality is nevertheless undeniable. And what's more, it is as forceful an album as anything by Hoover.

This here is the vinyl version of Until The Eagle Grins, one of the last in the shop (see this post). The way my turntable is set up is slightly odd, as the only outside speakers are connected by a 3.5 mm phono cable linked via an adaptor. Anyway, sometimes I disconnect the turntable to use it with the laptop or mp3 player, in which case it is a phono-to-phono connection - i.e.. what the speakers are designed for, while the rest of the time I have to turn the volume nearly all the way done to get a 'normal' level from the turntable (either that, or I play the turntable through the laptop.)

Yesterday the speakers were set up to play the new Envy/Jesu split from my mp3 player, with the volume set about mid-way up. Late Sunday morning - today - I put Until The Eagle Grins until the turntable and switched around the phono leads. I've never played the turntable at 10, since that would likely blow the speakers or at least damage them somewhat, not to mention my ears. But there was no-one else in the house, so I thought I'd give 5 a go (that being 7 or 8 on a normal speaker). Hearing the vinyl hiss at high volume as the needle went over the guide track was impressive enough, but the throbbing, explosive and incendiary opening bars of 'Ride Your Ride' just sounded fantastic.

That rambling, nerdy introduction out of the way, here are a couple of good summaries of what the Crownhate Ruin and Until The Eagle Grins are all about:

- from Zen and the Art of Face Punching;

"...The Crownhate Ruin were formed immediately after the demise of Hoover in 95. With Fred Erskine on Bass and Joseph P. McRedmond on guitar and vocals and Vin Novara from 1.6 band on drums. The sound is pretty much the same as Hoover, with the record starting off with one of those fat funky Erskine basslines. Some of the passages are more drawn out, giving the band room to explores some of the terrain that Hoover savagely broke through. I guess you could say its got a bit more electrolux than Hoover but not as much as Regulatorwatts. Can you even speak of these bands without talking about all the bands they went on to be in? Hardly. I believe Erskine was in June of 44 at the same time as TCR. What a time for music."

- from Dischord Records;

"Hoover broke up after returning from a US tour, at a time when they were probably at the height of their popularity. They split leaving a number of new songs unrecorded and many people disappointed. Ex-Hoover members Fred Erskine and Joe McRedmond continued to play together, and joined by Vin Novara, formed a new band: The Crownhate Ruin. They played their first show barely two months after Hoover's demise. The band's music moved into a darker area, with more challenging arrangements and time-signatures, and while they didn't immediately connect with some of the Hoover fans, The Crownhate Ruin began to develop its own following through touring and the release of a single and later a single album on Dischord in early 1996. After Crownhate Ruin, Erskine moved to Chicago and played in many more projects, including June of 44."

- lexdexter, Organising Grievances:

"the crownhateruin's face-burningly great "until the eagle grins".... It's got one of my favorite opening tracks on anything ever. So tough, in the way that caffeine-saturated, post-Positive Force vegans can be. Bass tone?"

'Ride Your Ride' live video

Also, you can download another great video, this time of 'Piss Alley', from the excellent The Sound of Indie.

Analysis from mr. x indeed:

"In many ways the key to Until the Eagle Grins is balance. Maintaining a strange trudging agility for the 40+ minutes of its entirety, it balances simplistic hardcore style and repetition with elaborate complex time signatures; the vocals swing seemingly uncontrollably from a despairing whine to screams of sheer ferocity.

Each song seems to track an unchartable path through these disparate styles. ‘Late Arriving Rock Dudes’ careens on the back of what sounds like a Fugazi bassline played at light speed with indistinguishable screaming until crashing into a dreamlike waltz, with Erskine moaning desperately over the top.

From the first moments of the pulsating bass of ‘Ride Your Ride’ and the extended verses of ‘Tornado Season Finale’, there is a clear sense of something powerful coming. It is this tension created by anticipation of the onslaught of such an elemental band that holds this extremely volatile album together. 'Tornado Season Finale' begins switching between grooving and marching rhythms before turning to arpeggios broken by the 2/4 refrain, always imposed on by the “take care” refrain. Then the verses switch to furious grinding trudge before returning to the initial groove.

Even the most “straight-forward” rockers of the pack, ‘Stretched Too Thin’, ‘You Will Wish Me Dead’, ‘Every Minutes Sucker’ and ‘Better Still If They Don’t Know’ (the latter two appearing of the CD version only [and the like, totally limited 7” record – Ed.]), are still heaving with inventiveness. The under-produced vocals embody both senses of discomfort and anger, and the 7/8 time signature of ‘Stretched Too Thin’ keeps halts the rhythm constantly before it springs back with the missing beat in the refrain.

Elsewhere ‘In the Four Years To Come’ edges between defeat and rage, launching from delicate verses at the beginning to a raw thrashing anger that still embody the same crushing defeat “I shake my fists at walls/It’s only afterwards…”.

Although The Crownhate Ruin were one of the shortest lived band in the genealogy of Hoover, Until the Eagle Grins leaves a lasting imprint. It works as a defining document of a group, something that is so wide ranging and powerful that it can be seen as the only full glimpse of something brilliant that existed briefly before disappearing again. And it’s also full of awesome tunes as well."

Now, dwell in the hardcore ferocity and dark emo sonic complexity of it all. And don't forget to rock out.

The Crownhate Ruin - Until The Eagle Grins (ZaFP link - CD version)

Until the Eagle Grins - Dischord Records 98 CD (LP temporarily unavailable)

Until The Eagle Grins on eMusic


(Click to expand)


The Hoover Genealogy Project so far (in reverse chronological order of posting):

9. The Crownhate Ruin - Until The Eagle Grins

8. The Crownhate Ruin: Vol. 1-3

7. Abilene - s/t (after

6. The Boom - Movin' Out

5. [The Hoover Mixtape]

4. Radio Flyer - In Their Strange White Armor

3. Regulator Watts - 'New Low Moline' 7"

2. Hoover/Lincoln - Two-Headed Coin 7"

1. Hoover - s/t reunion EP

Although there are only 9 posts in total, if you count the three separate Crownhate 7"s (and discount the compilation mixtape), this makes the tenth individual release of the series posted. Woo!


JNH said...

TCR were amazing live. I managed to see them about 5 times between 1994 and 1996. Each time they were progressively louder and more intense. One thing that stood out was that they never played songs older than their current release (as far as I can remember, at least) so when they were touring with “Elementary”, they weren't playing the “Primer” songs. I’m positive that there are a handful of pre-“Eagle” songs that were never released. I'd be interested in knowing whether I have imagined this or if its indeed true. The last time I saw them was when they toured with "...Eagle". Vin wasn't playing with them but they were definitely a full-on badass rock band. They played at least 2 songs that were newer than the LP, too.

I'd love to hear what they sounded like when Alex Dunham came on...

gabbagabbahey said...

There would have to be other songs if they didn't play from older releases, 'Elementary' and 'Primer' being both 7"s! I had a quick search which didn't turn anything up. But it does seem to me like there was an almost conceptual approach to the successive 'volumes' of releases, which would fit with what you say.

I'll make sure to put in a live video into this post...

Jonachi said...

Thanks for this post! Keep it up! Moore ex-hoover documentation please.

lexdexter said...

oh guys, i'm happy to help. gabba, i have some lo-fi and unreleased tcr demos that we must make available to the humans. i will email you.

sweater said...

Very nice band

Brooklyn Bill said...

i remember loving "late arriving rock dudes" above all on this record. never got to see them, though. Did get to see June of 44 a number of times, though. I assume it will end up here. I really want to post "engine takes to water" or "anatomy of sharks"

as always, The Hoover Genealogy Project never fails to get my attention.

gabbagabbahey said...

June of 44, yep maybe some time. I've been conscious of over-favouring the Alex Dunham side (Radio Flyer, Regulator Watts, first Abilene) so I tried to do as much justice as possible to Fred Erskine (and Joseph Redmond) with Crownhate.

thanks for all the comments, everyone.