Monday, 22 May 2017

Album Review: Crustfall by Days N Daze (by Emma Prew)

Days N Daze are a DIY folk punk band – or thrashgrass band as they’ve sometimes labelled themselves – that originally formed as a duo in Houston, Texas, by Whitney Flynn and Jesse Sendejas, almost ten years ago. They’ve swapped and changed additional musicians over the years and put out more than 10 albums and splits, with the latest album, Crustfall, having been released in March this year.

When I was initially confronted with reviewing Crustfall I was a little apprehensive about reviewing an album with so many songs on it. What if they all sound the same? What if I start to repeat myself? I’m used to albums that have maybe 10–12 tracks, nevermind that I often review EPs as well, and this one has 16. However, upon listening to Crustfall for the first time I realised that this was a 16-track album with lots of variety. There’s something for everyone on this album, well every punk fan anyway. 

The first song of Crustfall is called I Wanna See It Burn and has one of the many guest lyricist/vocalists of the album, Juicy Karkass. The song is very raw, angry and fast. As you’d probably expect from a song about all the negatives in the world. It’s like getting punched in the face… in a good way. To Risk To Live (ft. Freddie Boatright) is a favourite of mine. It’s upbeat and features plenty of mandolin. The song is about avoiding the mentality that you have to life your life a certain way, ie. going to college and working hard to get a job like you dad and wasting your life away. Inspirational. Aspirational. ‘Don’t waste your best years, Just livin’ for somebody else, Don’t waste your best years, Just hidden behind a desk, Don’t waste your best years, They’re the only ones you’ll ever get, So why not play life closer to the chest.’

Note Idol is the third track of Crustfall and it starts with a decent amount of trumpet. It feels perhaps more Spanish flamenco than ska and gives the album a bit of a party vibe. ‘A house is not always a home.’ Saturday Night Palsy sticks with the trumpet, alongside guitar. This song has a super catchy chorus and is fairly melodic for two relatively raw vocalists. Where the past is the past, And what's done is done, And the only concern we have is having fun, Where the cops all turn their heads the other way’. The next track, Self Loathing, has a fairly lengthy musical intro showing some great musicianship. When the vocals do begin, the lines of the song are alternated between Whitney and Jesse. This is pretty self-deprecating song but it remains suitably upbeat. ‘And now I know myself a bit too well, And I’m not sure I like what I’ve become, Self loathing is overwhelming, Every mirror is a loaded gun’

Exhausted Insomniac is a cover of an RCI song – who Google informs me are a indie punk band from Ohio. I wasn’t familiar with the original until I looked it up but upon first listen to the Days N Daze version it did seem a bit different to the previous tracks so it wasn’t not overly surprising that it is a cover. The track somehow doesn’t have the same rawness as other Days N Daze songs but it was great nonetheless. They certainly put their own folk punk spin on it. Insta Mental Breakdown serves as an interlude of sorts. It’s a full length song (2 and a half minutes) but performed in a different style altogether. The lyrics feel like a spoken word recital rather than a typical song and the instruments seem like they’re more for theatrical effect than melody… until the end at least. Interesting.

The eighth track brings a great swinging motion to Crustfall. Devil’s Hour is quite Baltic-sounding song where Whitney takes the lead – previously it had mostly been the duo together so this was quite refreshing. The lyrics are venomous and passionate as ever with macabre images of graveyards and all other kinds of spooky shit being painted in my head. Jesse returns to join Whitney on Wholesale Failure, a furious anthem with more than its fair share of ‘fuck’s. ‘Everything’s so fucked it’s comical, Waking up’s a drag, And the worst parts that I know this isn’t even close, To how devastatingly bad everything is gonna get.’ The song has a really great ska-style breakdown – and I don’t just mean with horns – that I really wasn’t expecting. The tenth track, featuring a pun of the band’s own name in its title, is called Days N Daze Of Our Lives. The song is about someone who you thought was your friend but turns out to not be who you thought they were. It is angry and slightly offensive yet strangely feel-good. ‘You drive me crazy, You drive me to drink, I hope you drive your car off a cliff, You self obsessed asshole.’

Save A Life (ft. Joey Steel) is an anti-cop song – a protest song against all the police officers who have shot innocent people. ‘They don't serve and protect you, they'll kill and neglect you, to them their the boot you're the bug.’ The song has a great trumpet melody and also features a bit of that ska-influenced guitar that I loved in Wholesale Failure. Days N Daze pack so many words into the lyrics of their songs, especially considering most songs are less than 3 minutes long. I think this next song possibly has the highest word count of the album. Little Blue Pills Pt. 4 is a love song of sorts. ‘Love is just a breeze, In the middle of a hurricane, Restitch the timeline and I swear that we’d both go insane, Engaged to death got nothin’ left, But everything will be alright.’  The features yet another new instrument/sound, whistling, as well as a verse where Jess and Whitney sing slightly different lines at the same time. Is there anything they can’t do? World War 3 is the thirteenth track of Crustfall. Well, you can imagine the sort of subject matter of this song – riots around the world, cops killing innocent people, guns in schools. It’s scary but they’re not wrong. ‘The next world war is just around the corner, Blinded by the glitz and glam disease, Sirens wail the anthem of a generation frozen in apathy, You can’t just change the channel with the war at your doorstep.’

Anchor is a quieter track than many of its album mates (yes, I did just refer to a song as a ‘mate’). This is a harmonica and acoustic guitar driven sad song. Yet another different sound – not bad for the fourteenth track on the album. This song starts and ends with the same lines – ‘I got blacked out nights and tragic letters, Empty pockets distorted pleasures, This winters lasted years.’ There a lot of references to the fragility of life and death on Crustfall and that is very much the case for The Abliss. The song is about staying strong and above those negative mental feelings that you might have because there are people that care about you. ‘Life’s a minefield a treacherous road, Call me selfish but I don’t want to travel it alone, So burn the crutches and mend the bones, Cause we’ve still got so many miles to go.’ Finally we come to the album’s title track and album closer. It feels like Days N Daze give every last thing they’ve got with Crustfall – all of the instruments are there and both Whitney and Jesse are screaming their lungs out. Just when you think the song has ended, there is a surprisingly lovely musical breakdown before the final verse is sung more gently than before: ‘Well I know times running out, So before ya lay my body down, Before ya dress me up, Commit me to the ground, I wanna make sure that you know, I love you and thanks for putting up, With all my shit.’

Crustfall is available now from Sweater Weather Records and All We've Got Records and you can stream and download it from the band's Bandcamp, here. Also be sure to like Days N Daze on Facebook, here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

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