Cripple and Casino
Petra Drazic - voice
Marko Knez - drum set
Danijel Zec - bass guitar
Darko Kujundzic - treble guitar
Straight outta Zagreb, Croatia we have here a sound that's best described as "Eighties vs. Nineties vs. Now". Cripple and Casino are the only band on our active roster to proudly list Phil Collins, of Genesis fame, as an influence. As much as we love Phil, you won't find a lick of his influence in these sounds. Instead you'll be enveloped in a late-eighties / early-nineties DC - by way of Chicago - sound.
Matt Lebens, the owner of Radio is Down, heard the band through their MySpace page. Several songs recorded in Cripple and Casino's practice space with one microphone, to a minidisc taken out of a trashcan by a friend of the band, composed and played with minimal technical skill (none of the members had ever played the instrument they play in the band ever before) were promising enough for Lebens, so in the summer of 2008, he offered to put out the band's first album, once they record it.
Near the end of 2008, after a year of work and merely 6 months since the forming of the final lineup, Cripple and Casino entered the Kozmo studio in Zagreb, where they recorded and mixed 10 songs which combine post punk, noise rock and post hardcore, and carry on the sonic legacy of Fugazi, Jesus Lizard, Sonic Youth, Jawbox etc., all this in a unique and authentic manner, without any limitations from their label manager. Mijo Gladovic (Analena, Lunar), Vedran Brlecic (Contract), Sasa Relic (Don't Mess With Texas, Lunar) and Mihael Bele (Peach Pit) provided their priceless assistance in the studio. The material then flew over the ocean once again, and was mastered by Ben Adrian in San Francisco.
Cripple and Casino will be promoting this record of how they formed, lost, searched, found and grew with a series of shows in the region, starting with their hometown Zagreb. Come visit them and fetch your copy of this exciting release!
Reviews of S/T CD:
Says Birkir Fjalar of Halifax Collect...
Croatia's Cripple and Casino project an aura of knowledge which results in a sincere homage to what drives them to be in a band - their influences. It's as if they are answering a call of duty to make what they deem awesome, tangibly and vicariously available in their home country through them. This is a band thoughtful enough to mix the various elements and quirks of their heroes (without sounding like five different band at ones) from the late 80's and 90's DC hardcore/punk, the "real" stripped down and explosive emo of the 90s, Sonic Youth, early Built To Spill, Wipers, Girls. Vs. Boys and Jesus Lizard (just check out the trade off between drum and bass). Only, their stomping ground happens to be in Zagreb. Not California, Illinois, New York, or what have you. At this point, it is probably quite apparent that Cripple and Casino is no revelation. But here is a tank full of excitement, passion for the "craft", and damn good song writing. Furthermore, it works. The final product is contagious. I challenge you to not get caught up in what's on display - the sheer thrill of a band that just realized they may have mastered a sound, so to speak. It would be a shame if you'd overlook this record. But lets get clinical for a moment. The sound is vibrant and alive, like only simple and raw production values could achieve. Every instrument shines, due to the simple set-up. I love that. Petra's vocal performance rules as well. She stays clear of the typical mousy yelps so many punk songstresses resort to when fronting a band. Far too often the ladies adopt that sort of harmless too-gentle-for-its-own-good approach. Petra does not. She also has a secret weapon. Her screams. They are intelligible and aggressive. They get me all worked up. There is a perfect balance between those and the more clean singing. So don't go thinking it's a sappy over-load because it's quite the opposite. Both "styles" are energetic and pretty much the most intense component of the band's sound. The only vocal gripe I have is that the pattern and nuances are repetitive and predictable at times. That being said, this is helluva catchy stuff. By all means, check Cripple and Casino out asap.
Says Georg Gartlgruber of Cracked...
There is a driving, rumbling beat that runs through all songs, no matter how many breaks or false starts they build into the song. The guitar is sometimes edgy, sometimes affluent with high pitched notes or weird chords, sometimes also goes straight into power chords (“Particles” or “Intro”) while the bass and drums lay a fundament of beats that range from straight forward racing to an almost reggae stance. These dynamics between straight energetic punk and weird jangling postcore make for the main fascination of all the songs. You may wiggle your head during the softer spots knowing that an energetic release will come sooner or later to help you go bezerk on the dancefloor, if you want to. After all it is still about punkrock. Never forget, the whole album starts with the sound of a motor revving up, so you know what you are in for. Petra, the singer, screams and shouts and moans and sings, whatever style seems fit, about the troubles of our modern day existence in between the impetus of media content, the overall coldness of the capitalist system and about the will and guts and power it takes to keep up being an individual in these circumstances. About how hard it is sometimes to just get up in the morning and face live as it has turned out. And that after all it is the personal relationships with people, who you get to know on a very intimate basis, are the things that count in life. And that those hurt the most, if they fail, break up or turn out to be false. Don’t worry, musically this is (still) nowhere close to what used to be great about Gossip but has turned so bland and uninteresting once fame hit them and they turned to lifestyle and glamour instead of substance. I prefer Cripple and Casino a lot because with them I feel an honesty and realness in the music that is unfortunately amiss in 99.9 % of all other music around. (and which is, it seems, one of my basic criteria for music these days…) Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of potential in Cripple and Casino and their self-titled debut is great in many ways, as described above...
Says Ivan Mucnjak JR of Hombrezone...
CAC have their vision of noise rock, which is not in fact filtered noise, nor is it classic rock. In the 10 offered songs, what is heard is a firm and flexible noise background of the Bellini/Uzeda crowd, the loud and modern college indie of Future of the Left, and less nervous fragments of forgotten Silverfish. The band is "limitedly energic", does not rush and all instruments have an equal ponder and treatment. CAC are not conceptually agressive or unpleasant, but their songs are edgy and rough, dotted with signs of sharpness. All in all, a certain "negative" atmosphere created properly and without banal/transparent solutions. The instrumental performance itself is simple and determined, and although I had some restraints towards the vocal while listening to their demo, it stands that Petra's voice is functional and suits the musical background completely. She sings and holds the melody when necessary, goes into the phrasing of one Leslie Rankine or early PJ Harvey when the song requires it and it all has a very convincing effect.
Says Vladimir Horvat of Terapija...
Musically, Cripple and Casino is a very simple band, playing "pure" indie-rock in which we can hear a rich legacy of melodic rock from the era of punk/post-punk (Ramones, Joy Division, Gang Of Four, Scratch Acid), alternative rock from the late 80s (Pixies, Husker Du), noise-rock (Sonic Youth, The Jesus Lizard, Shellac), post-hardcore (Fugazi), as well as an influence of pleny of contemporary retro bands. The bass is finely tuned with its distorted effects, the rhythm is quite simple and groovy, and the two most important parts - the guitar and female vocal - are the most impressive part of the band. This album definitely deserves to be found in the collection of every picky audiophile who has a thing for tight and contemporary rock of the 21st century. Indeed, it is not at all strange that this album was published in the USA, because the band is quite a classic underground rock band from across the ocean, the only things linking them to Croatia being their blood and their homes.
Says Aversion Online...
The oddly named Cripple and Casino is an excellent band from Croatia, and their self-titled debut full-length was released by Olympia, Washington-based label Radio is Down sometime last year. I was familiar with neither the band nor the label prior to receiving this album for review, but I love situations like this where I'm randomly taken by surprise and really dig a random album I had never heard of before – especially when it's from somewhere like Croatia, since you just don't get exposed to Croatian acts every day, you know? The band describes their sound as a combination of "post-punk, noise rock, and post-hardcore" that continues "the sonic legacy of Fugazi, The Jesus Lizard, Sonic Youth, Jawbox, etc." Admittedly I don't listen to a ton of bands of this nature, but I'm always interested to hear more quality music from this general realm, and I certainly agree with their assessment of their sound (which has a definite 90's vibe, in my opinion). Most of the vocals are kind of half-spoken, half-shouted, or half-sung, and the music is loaded with a strong blend of caustic, angular riffing around roving basslines; driving "alt. rock" power chords; little bits and pieces of melody; and plenty of spacious breaks that let the rhythm section do most of the legwork. They do a great job of creating memorable (and almost catchy, at times) arrangements from all of these assorted sounds, and I really am a huge fan of this stuff, so I'm glad the band contacted me about checking out their work!
Says Jonathan Harnish, Built On A Weak Spot...
I like how Cripple and Casino has a bio that begins with “Straight Outta Croatia”, probably shouldn’t make me chuckle a bit, but it worked. Anyway, this foursome calls Zagreb, Croatia home and haven’t necessarily been together very long, however long enough to put out this relatively solid piece of work last year on Radio is Down. While they tend to cite a number of late 80’s/early 90’s DC bands as influences, I don’t necessarily hear that as much on their self-titled debut as much as I hear more of a pulsating bass driven sound akin to early 80’s post-punk. I don’t think I really need to name names here. However, the end result kind of comes off sounding similar to that of McLusky but with some pretty nice female vocals of the spoken/shouted variety. There is plenty to like about what they are doing, and really there is more of an amalgamation of styles at play here that I am probably giving them credit for. Enjoy this however, wherever it may be coming from.