Although the booklet accompanying Crowd’s debut compact disc, Jūtu evolūcija, may indicate a playful and colorful time, it’s anything but. “Jūtu evolūcija,” which literally means an evolution of emotions, here sounds more like a plateau of feelings so depressing and frustrating, that at times listening to the album became numbing.
The band includes Jana Čakste on vocals, Kaspars Čakste on guitar, Edgars Bindulis on guitar, Māris Vaivods on bass and Zigmārs Kics on drums. Its beginning can be traced to 1998 as the band Ugly Son, but it wasn’t until the end of 1999 that the band name was officially changed to Crowd. With the addition of Jana in 2000, Crowd, as it stood at the time the recording was released early this year, was completed.
The first time I heard the album I was reminded of the group Iedomu spārni, which seemed to pave the Latvian pathway to Evanescence-like music. But whereas the Iedomu spārni album Dienasgrāmata had songs with positive outlooks, Jūtu evolūcija brings the “hardcore” genre to a new level.
The album’s first track, and one of my favorites, “Rīts,” starts off right away with a nice, fast-paced guitar and drum combination. Even though I couldn’t hear the lyrics clearly at first, I have to agree with Radio NABA listeners who earlier this year helped place “Rīts” in the station’s Top 25. The track is colorful and has a full sound to it, and it’s made to be liked. (The lyrics can be found at www.dziesmas.com, but unfortunately not on the group’s official Web site.)
The second track, “Atdošanās,” is noticeable because of its funk undertone. At first it feels laid back with the funk-jazz feel, but the guitar pushes forward and suddenly the music breaks out. The track has a nice guitar line and is very rough.
Unfortunately, the third track, “Burned Hearts,” shoves the album back several steps. The track shows to me a classic example of Latvian-band-trying-to-go-English syndrome: a song by a band with interesting, haunting melodies and vocals, but with lyrics that, once sung in a language other than the group’s own, doesn’t cut it. Fortunately, the next track, “Dziesma,” picks the album back up. However, the album also moves into the realm of more depression, depression, depression!
The rest of the album’s English tracks move well and generally make more sense, especially the 10th track, “Today,” which blew me away with its grammatical goodness.
But “Freak,” the ninth track, is my least favorite. The song has the harshest guitar bits in the entire album. The song is apparently about a depressing nubbin of a person who hates themself as much as they hate the people who brought them into the world.
The final track, the cover title “Jūtu evolūcija,” is another of the band’s more popular radio singles, and also my second of two favorites from the album. The vocals are mild a present a simple message: “I’ll forgive you if you apologize, because I love you, idiot.” Subtlety is the song’s best aspect.
Would I sway to Crowd’s sounds? Yes. Would I head bang to it? No. Crowd is definitely an acquired taste, and may take listeners some getting used to, especially if they haven’t been exposed to much Latvian hardcore. Eventually, for me, after setting the disc on loop, the music becomes more of a backgroundish, mellow sound, depression and all.
Raibā taureņa ieraksti, 2005
On the Web
The band’s official Web site has news about the group, a biography and samples of its music. LV
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