Captain Vs. Crew : Sometimes Up Is the Only Direction
The panhandling punk rockers on Southwest Fifth Avenue would do well to gather up their loose change and plug into Portland's Captain vs. Crew, and give those crusty Misfits and Subhumans tapes a break. The guys and gal in CVC brandish plenty of teeth-gnashing wrath and frustration, but one gets the idea it doesn't follow them home or keep them awake at night. Best to leave stormy feelings at the office. The band's debut record opens with "Finest in Italian Metal Pt. 1," an eruption of spring-loaded guitars and wig-flipping vocals that refreshingly call to mind one of Portland's punk patron saints, Greg Sage. Like Sage's band, the Wipers, CVC generally keeps everything urgent and cathartic, such as on the furious caterwauls "Brutal Path of Destruction" and "Under the Rock Rock." Yet the Crew isn't shy about introducing a few melodic tidbits. The expansive curves on songs such as "Downtime" deliver needed diversion from all the mouth-foaming rage. "Warn the Duke" sounds like a catchy Grant Hart song from Hüsker Dü's productive years. CVC is a band capable of maintaining a full head of scream while peppering the listener with a few timely asides, as if to say: "Remember your blood pressure, kids. Find your happy place." We can definitely use more examples of intelligent aggression. An amalgam of aging personalities, Captain Vs. Crew unleashes a chaotic volley of rock songs, all with pop leanings and traces of past favorites, attempting to pique the ears of those in the back, enjoying pleasant conversation. Guitarist/singer, Rob Jones awaits the birth of his first baby. Bass player, Brunson Moody, is a programmer and student. Tim and Shawna Ervin-Gore, guitar/singer and drummer, respectively, both edit comic books. Dealing with the inevitable approach of conceptual adulthood, the foursome choose to stuff the stress and absurdity of everyday living into songs described as 'twitchy punk rock,' 'Replacements-like ...and Sonic Youth-ish,' and 'punk rock quelque part entre Sebadoh' by the press, prompting one reviewer to posit the question 'what if Gang of Four did nothing but cover the Dead Kennedys?' As one might assume, Captain Vs. Crew drives down a rollicking road of punk rock and noise, but with a decidedly undecided direction. In a scant four years of fooling around, playing up and down the West Coast, taping songs in basements and friends' studios, Captain Vs. Crew piled up plenty of fantastic experiences. In 2000, they produced their first EP, My Body is a Radio, on Jealous Butcher Records, a five-song EP of early ruminations. That recording made the rounds at CMJ in the same year, and found it's way down to Northern California for some fun rock shows in. In 2002, the five song EP My Flesh Has Been Torn From Me and I'm Running For My Life, supported another West Coast tour, and as we've entered 2003, a fantastic seven-inch, Anatomy of a..., a four band release by four Portland indie labels raised the flag for the ship to come to port. And so it will, as the first full-length album, Sometimes Up is the Only Direction. Reaches fruition. This album fuses some of the past brash silliness that sparked the beginning of Captain Vs. Crew, and witnesses the path into an inevitable maturation that comes from a life spent frolicking in a town full of hard-driving rock friendships.