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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CD Review: CKY - Carver City

CKY - Carver City
2009 Roadrunner Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



At one point, CKY was considered the college rock band (not to mention heroes of the skating underground) in these United States. Had you not seen that Ozzy-esque CKY logo plastered across the chests of late teens and early twenty-somethings with the same repetition as Greek society emblems, CKY might've remained a best-kept secret.

Then again, when one of your members has a brother breaking his and his family's bones on national television, more than you're likely you're going to rise to prominence by attrition. At this point, however, we can honestly say the Camp Kill Yourself guys are hardly to be remembered strictly as recipients of Bam Margera's fortunes reaped from his proponence of anti-authority shenanigans.

The fact is CKY is a damned fine band (as co-founder Deron Miller has publicly touted over the internet) and because of (or depsite, if you will) having their cut "Genesis 12a" appear as part of the Bam Margera-featured Jumping Off a Building video, CKY has at least become a name blabbed amongst a post-grunge sect bearing the same wherewithal to grow up as the generation before them.

Both generations are what fuels CKY's nearly-unclassifiable music. Hardly the snotty skate rats many figure them to be for obvious connotations, CKY bears a brainy creative flux that is metallic at times, new wave with heavier sensibilites at others. Like Bigelf, CKY are in love with syrupy Moogs and channeling synths as much as they are pumping riffs and bare-pop tunefulness.

Not wholly a metal band, CKY is perhaps best thought of as prog-alt-psych-rock for the antiestablishment brigade despite their frequently massive chords and Jess Margera's rawk-minded beat patterns which serve more to beef up the group's cumbersome density as opposed to delivering snare-happy rolls for boarding along the circumferences of empty pools.

A band which once dropped off the Warped Tour to protest escalating ticket prices alongside their disenfranchised fans, CKY is a band spitefully doing things their own way. On their latest album Carver City, they take on a quasi-conceptualization of a boardwalk town caught on the edge of apocalypse and while certain parts feel like the telling of this story, at others, Carver City goes about its exploratory way, using the Moog-drenched and eighties-savvy "A#1 Roller Rager" as an example.

Miller, along with Chad I. Ginsburg and former All That Remains bassist Matt Deis yield a bonding glue between their strings and keys which keeps Carver City pulsing and flowering for most of the journey. Deis and Jess Margera have really gelled together since Deis hooked up with the group on 2005's An Answer Can Be Found. As Deis has brought some writing input to CKY, he has become more than just a tight-knit second knob of a polished rhythm section.

As a collective, CKY are triumphantly cosmic on "Old Carver's Bones," one of the album's weightiest cuts from both the guitar and synth angles. Sounding like Jeff Lynne made a pact with the devil to stay hip, "Old Carver's Bones" is delicately tailored yet heavily detailed with erupting soundbursts. As good as CKY has reliably been, this is perhaps their maturest song ever penned if not simply benefiting from an in-house mentality of scene rebellion.

Even "The Era of an End" turns a sweet trick by closing Carver City with a romantic swoon complete with lofty vocals and guitar weaves which are letter-perfect in tandem with the airy keys breezing beneath it. In the late seventies/early eighties CKY would've gone straight to the big stage in the company of Thin Lizzy if not The Cars, not that mass appeal has ever been a part of their agenda.

Carver City is Deep Purple as much as it is ELO, Gary Numan and pre-disco Bee Gees, but it is also punk and metal reinvention for the thinking class. "Hellions On Parade," "Imaginary Threats" and "Rats in the Infirmary" could be monster crossover cuts for CKY if Roadrunner sinks enough promotional effort into them, yet CKY will either have their cake on the silver plate or they'll at least eat a carry-out from the store bakery while watching scenesters dogpile over one another trying to outsmart each other. CKY has already been there and have the stones to call their own shots.

Adamantly refusing to ply into the Underoath or Between the Buried and Me crowds (who should both have enough sense to seek these guys out), CKY is fiercely intelligent and they know it. At least they have more tools than Home Depot to back themselves up.

Rating: ****

20 comments:

metalman777 said...

Great review!

Carver City is my first exposure to cKy and I was like "what the crap IS this?" Metal? Industrial? Punk? Melodic rock? Why do those keyboards sound so good when I normally hate keyboardy music?

Martell said...

The keyboards were good, but not Dio good. The thought the album just tried to hard with to many different styles.

The RIpple Effect said...

You know, I hate to admit it, but I've never heard CKY. Always seen em, never heard em. I mean to, soon.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

metalman, glad you dug the review and the album...I used to think keys were unforgiveable in metal until I realized later Deep Purple, Dio and Rainbow were hardly lesser metal because of the keys, sooooo...

Martell, welcome, I would say I don't think CKY has interest in replicating Dio style of key projection...they're more like Bigelf, trying to keep it in a seventies Moog feel

Ripple, it took me years before I realized what the anagram stood for, lol, so don't feel bad...check 'em out, definitely a grower

Anonymous said...

I've been a cky fan for over 5 years and im not sure i like the stylistic direction. too many solos and not enough wierdly awesome riffs. i guess im jst old fassioned

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