Something not terrible is happening on Long Island and it’s called Crow Bait.
Their full-length debut, Sliding Through The Halls of Fate, is part classic Long Island punk and part Replacements, all with a little ’90s alt-rock flair.
Since 2011, Chris Arena (Sister Kisser, American Hellfire Club), Mike Bruno (Iron Chic, Wax Phantom), and Sal Fiteni (Sister Kisser, Halfway to Hell Club) have released several 7” LPs, and have toured New York and California, but this studio debut featuring throaty vocals, a familiar drum and guitar sound, and the occasional harmonica solo cements the trio’s point of view and, more importantly, the fact that they’re not Taking Back Sunday.
Single “83” is the most blatant proof of Crow Bait’s affection for the ’90s alt-rock scene, from its throat-straining vocals and steady drum kicks to the ripping guitar line on top of it all. It’s no wonder the band used “83″ as a tease for the rest of the album. It sounds like an old favorite, only a bit more dissonant and experimental, like all of Sliding Through The Halls of Fate.
“Ancient Eyes” distinguishes itself from other tracks with its mellow, toned-down, somber sound. Still, it highlights Crow Bait’s playful experimentation.
The simple, slow-swaying number crashes into drums, turns up the volume, and eventually collapses into a feedback-heavy, dissonant close like an emotionally exhausted man sinking to the floor.
Album opener “The Ocean” is an emotional rollercoaster of its own. Arena sings, “Don’t want the crowded track/And there’s a thief round back/Took one here in your lonesome palm/Oh, I’ve seen the oceans/To the west, sunsets in the horizon/Take me to the exit door/I’m already yours.”
The song’s story seems pretty cut-and-dry until everything falls apart. “I don’t see no ocean/Just a dusty mirror, little potions/This time I’m an angry pawn/I don’t need your anchor anymore/…/This crow is gonna learn to sing/A tune you know.” The sound, especially the boyish, earnest vocals, and the crumbling of this depicted relationship are reminiscent of Weezer’s self-titled album.
That nostalgia runs throughout Halls of Fate. Aspects get a little redundant, like hearing the same opening strummed chord in several tracks—a page Crow Bait took out of the alt-rock book, but shouldn’t have. However, the record contains more bright spots than dark ones: The titular line about “sliding through the halls of fate” appears subtly in “Searching For My Boots On The Highway,” “A Billion Lives” features a crisp harmonica, and the rough “Deliverance Stalls” boasts a soaring, high-pitched guitar tremolo.
Sliding Through The Halls Of Fate exemplifies how a group can master a familiar feeling while also doing something new. The experiments with dissonance, rhythm changes, and more complex lyrics ensure that this debut isn’t merely a compilation of 11 versions of Gin Blossoms’ “Follow You Down.” Crow Bait makes one think twice about the possibilities for the current and future Long Island music scene.
Crow Bait – Sliding Through The Halls Of Fate tracklist:
- “The Ocean”
- “If I Could”
- “Crow Bait”
- “Ancient Eyes”
- “Pretty Good Things”
- “Searching For My Boots On The Highway”
- “Deliverance Stalls”
- “A Billion Lives”