The Crack Babies: Smoking at Gas Stations (Lostmusic, 2004)

by Jason

Crack Babies Gas StationsThe Crack Babies hail from Sweden and create noisy, lo-fi pop that will either grate on you or welcome you in. This is a “bedroom” recording in the most obvious sense. There is little to no production on this disc and the mix is, well, nowhere to be found. Their first release on Lostmusic Recordings is a cd-r called Smoking at Gas Stations. Lostmusic started out as an online webzine that set out to find great music and to re-discover lost music from the past. After some growth, Lostmusic took their low budget and decided to release a lo-fi, cd-r release and Crack Babies is their first.

Searching under the veil of lo-fi walls, I think I have found some killer sounds and some very good song structures. Smoking starts off with “Shine.” It’s got that early 80’s, post-punk feel to it. The Crack Babies have a mix of very early Psychedelic Furs, early Cure, The Smiths, and some violently noisy feedback to boot. The song has a great pop melody. This being said, I think the vocals need help. Not that they are bad, but the mix really is poor in that area for sure. They echo far too much and are back way to far in the mix for my taste on this type of song. “America” is the second track and it begins like the first: tons of feedback. This element has a sort of shoegaze feel to it, but the percussion and melody scream early 80’s brit-pop (and I mean that in the best sense). This is a slow-tempo track that is moody and broody. Babies create a great feel on this track.

“Honey Believer” is a more subdued track at the beginning with the feedback. It is a bit back in the mix and is a nice break, although it continues throughout the whole track. “Come on Baby Cramp My Style” is noisy and there are even tambourine in it. This song has minimal drums and really, raucous guitar work. The vocals really carry the melody. “Pretty” is a slow, almost ballad like song. The guitars have their best tone on this track, but the vocals are really hard to hear. It is a nice break from the really loud fuzz.

“Turn Up the Radio” is a fast paced sound with tones of fuzzed out walls and pumping percussion. This is old-time punk the way it was meant to be mixed in with some shoegaze elements. This is indie-pop at its lowest production level, but the song is killer and the potential is certainly there. “She’s a Star” is definitely my fave track on the disc. The melody shines on this track and has that great early indie pop/rock feel to it. The guitar lines are catchy and the feedback fits in the song better than on any other track.

All in all, there is great song writing on this disc. It may take some listeners some time to get past the absence of any sort of production, but this disc is super strong in the structure of the tunes. I would love to hear what Crack Babies would do in a proper studio or, at least, with a proper computer set up.

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