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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Kill Creek
The Will to Strike
Second Nature Recordings

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 1, 2004

I have to admit, up front, that I have never heard of Kill Creek. I'm familiar with their label, Second Nature, and label mates the Casket Lottery, which is a decent starting point. So, diving into Kill Creek's double disc career retrospective, The Will to Strike, was a little bit daunting. I soon found out that this is very good stuff, much of it reminiscent to Braid, early Get Up Kids and, of course, the Casket Lottery. However, relating Kill Creek to the Get Up Kids is sort of backwards, since Kill Creek predated their compatriots, and in turn influenced the Get Up Kids' sound.

Being true to the eventual sound of their home, Lawrence, Kansas, Kill Creek got together in 1986 and started by pulling from post punk heavyweights such as Mission of Burma and Husker Dü. They went on release two full length albums (St. Valentines Garage and Proving Winter Cruel) and an EP (Stretch) on Mammoth Records in the mid nineties. The band signed to Second Nature and released a third full length, Colors of Home, in 2001. For those not familiar with Kill Creek; and fans of the likes of Braid, Cursive, and the Get Up Kids, The Will to Strike is the great place to start; it comes, basically, as an introduction for new listeners as Kill Creek preps a follow-up to their 2001 release.

The Will to Strike's two disc marathon is chock full of music, clocking in at just under 160 minutes of music between both discs. Disc one contains the entirety of Proving Winter Cruel, plus a collection of demos and compilation recordings from their early days. Disc two features all of St. Valentine's Garage plus three of the tracks from the Stretch EP and a number tracks collected from compilations and such later in their career. All in all, this is an excellent place to start getting to know Kill Creek as one of the bands that started what would become a burgeoning music scene in Lawrence, KS.

Unfortunately, in places, their sound followed a similar curve as the rest of their scene. Eventually, Kill Creek's sounds, along with their contemporaries such as Jawbox, Jawbreaker and Braid, would be watered down and turned into the money pit known as 'emo'. But their early music is still vital and full of energy, even when tuning in today. Everything still sounds fresh - Kill Creek have learned their melodic lessons well from Mission of Burma and Husker Dü. Very impressive is the buzz and urgency of Ron Hayes' guitars, which only let down in the interest of dynamics. Even the slower songs ring with vibrancy. Scott Born's gravelly vocals are the things of today's emo vocalist dreams. Born's confidence and intensity aren't lost for a moment in the din of roaring guitars, drums and bass.

With more new music on the horizon from Kill Creek, fans of Pilot to Gunner, Burning Airlines, The Ghost and other post-punk and post-rock outfits way want to take the time to check out Kill Creeks back catalog in one convenient double disc album. Although lengthy, The Will to Strike makes an excellent primer and a very convenient way to catch up on Kill Creeks back catalog. I look forward to hearing fresh material from a newfound gem.

Reviewed by Craig Mertes
Craig lives, works and listens to music in the general vicinity of Orlando, Florida, where he absorbs everything from hip-hop to indie, pop, rock, punk and metal. His all time favs include Hum, Clutch, Dismemberment Plan, and the Reverend Horton Heat. The last we heard, Craig was spinning Vast Aire, Soul Position, Blues Explosion, Motörhead, the Blood Brothers and Dead Meadow. Craig is also a life-long, die-hard Cubs fan, so lay off.

See other reviews by Craig Mertes



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