Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Pastel (Single) - Crooked Teeth

While this is not necessarily a new release, LA-based Crooked Teeth have rereleased their EP Pastel through Rude Records, the label that the band signed with back in March. The band consists of Tyson Evans on vocals/bass, Adam Miranda on guitar, and Adam Galindo on drums. The tracks have all been re-mixed and re-mastered by Matt Lang and Kris Crummett respectively. I asked the band about what it's been like to be on a label now, and Tyson shared his excitement, talking about how being "part of an established label/band relationship like this so to make that happen with a team who genuinely want to see us do great things and maintain our artistic integrity is such a win".

Within the span of three songs, LA natives Crooked Teeth demonstrate their wide range and musical abilities. “Crawl” reminds me ever so briefly of “In Too Deep” by Sum 41, specifically the guitar part in the beginning, but quickly drifts away from that sound and takes on a more serious tone, as the band's vocalist and bassist Tyson sings about a broken relationship and trying to take the high road in the toxic aftermath of pain and heartbreak. The emotional turmoil is very evident, in the ways in which Tyson switches between the soft & gentle side and the intense and gritty higher vocals and the strength of the instrumental crashing behind his voice and lyrics. This release sees the addition of Bonnie Fraser from Stand Atlantic, which creates another layer of depth as well as providing some excellent contrast to Tyson's vocals. She soars when he goes low and provides another octave of emotional intensity.

"Out of Place" is probably the most upbeat song of the release, and delves into the topic of belonging and struggling with feeling like you should be here. The chorus especially exemplifies that:

"When you start to feel like running away
To another time, to a different place
When you start to feel yourself slipping away
Do you feel anything, do you feel out of place?".

It's always an interesting concept to me, when a band or artist is able to discuss something that's not necessarily happy or cheerful over an instrumental that's upbeat and gets the listener going. This song is a great example of that, with a solid instrumental (Adam G's drums are tight and driving, and Adam M's guitar really helps lead the melody in the moments where Tyson's vocals fade away) that makes you want to rock out while the lyrics make you think and (perhaps) get emotional. The message behind the song is very relatable, especially for those of you who identify strongly with the emo music scene (no wonder these guys played Emo Nite in LA last year).

"Helpless" finishes out the EP on a darker, heavier note. This song is part of what helps distance the band a bit from the pop-punk crowd and shows some rock & alternative-rock influences (Tyson mentioned that some of their influences include Slayer and Slipnot among the likes of Jimmy Eat World, The Maine, and Fall Out Boy), and shows their ability to synthesize their influences into one, unique sound. The drum work on this song is especially notable, between the clean verses and the almost breakdown moment of the pre-chorus; creating contrast in rhythm alone is impressive. The lyrics and vocals really drew me to this song as well, such as the chorus:

"I could fake this pain
Keep my thoughts at bay
I could whisper all my fears or keep it down when you're around
If I fake this pain".

The song talks about dealing with internal pain, fear, and anxiety, and the struggles with trying to cope and keep your composure for those around you. It's a hard thing to deal with, especially when you feel as though you can't talk about what's going on inside and trying to pretend like everything is okay. Tyson's vocals reflect this turmoil, showing us his ability to yell and scream on the bridge, repeating the line "when I feel helpless" over and over. It's a heavy song, but a well crafted and passionate tune that really resonates with the listener.

This release really shows the strength and passion of the band, a group that feels ready to explode and, as Tyson put it, "preparing to take over the damn world". When asked about some of their influences and role-models in terms of other bands and artists, Tyson mentioned that Fall Out Boy "has influenced our outlook on how to approach our art and the avenues we want it to travel down. We really dig how they've just played the whole spectrum. They kill it in artwork, collaborations, songwriting and most importantly they take risks and there's something really inspiring about that".
I appreciated that notion of taking risks and expanding a group's sound and influence, something I can already hear in Crooked Teeth's current sound and expect to hear more of in future releases.

Speaking of that, the band will be heading out on tour with Belmont and Young Culture later this month and Sundressed and Tiny Stills after that. Stay tuned this fall for their follow up EP on Rude Records that the band is really excited for; the band says they thin fans will "be pleasantly surprised at the growth there". Check out all their information for tour dates and music on their website here, and watch their latest music video for "Crawl" here!

Rating: 4.5/5

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