Since forming late in 2012, Chicago’s Crown Larks have busied themselves honing a combination of punkish psychedelic grit, non-grandiose prog/art-rock flourishes, and significant borrowings from the fount of jazz. It’s a heavy, jamming, ambitious stew, and they are currently on the road with a full-length debut under their collective belt. Blood Dancer features seven selections that should attract the interest of folks providing shelf space to electric-period Miles, Soft Machine, and post-punk’s experimental wing; it’s out now on LP/CD/digital through Spacelung / Landbreathing, and for those fancying a cassette, one can be obtained through Already Dead Tapes.
Upon first encountering the name Crown Larks, my mind instantly conjured up an image of a garage band, specifically the kind wearing matching, tight-fitting suits as their frontman very likely brandishes a wooden painted maraca. Once heard however, I was just as rapidly confronted by my initial vision being completely off-target.
Unsurprisingly, the blend of psych, prog, punk, and jazz Crown Larks offer doesn’t easily fall into one sonic camp, which makes describing their sound a little complicated. But the difficulty in categorization doesn’t carry-over to the listening; accurately, Crown Larks dish out raucous, expansionist rock drawing from a wide range of precedent while connecting to the nonce; headbands and patchouli can be envisioned, but there is a tangible correlation to indie happenings, notably in the vocals of Jack Bouboushian and the electric piano of Lorraine Bailey.
For Blood Dancer, Bouboushian is additionally credited with guitar, bass, pedals, and sleep machine. Bailey adds vocals, organ, clarinet, and synths, and Bill Miller is anchored to the drum chair. They comprise the core of Crown Larks, at least for this LP, though it also includes trumpet and flugelhorn from Peter Gillette, the saxophone and flute of Kevin Ohlau, and on two cuts sax and piano courtesy Chris Boonenberg.