At nineteen songs and 52 minutes long, this self-produced CD is a great introduction and overview of Crustaceans music. The first eight songs are brand new, being recorded in 1997 at Mike Rotolante’s studio, while the last ten songs represents their 1995 cassette recorded by Rob McGregor. Fortunately, there is not a jarring difference between the production values on these two portions of the CD, although on the latter (chronologically earlier) portion of the CD, the parts where Crustaceans momentarily break into “punk” mode (i.e., turn on the guitar distortion) are a little louder than on the front 8. But since these punk breaks only come around every fourth or fifth song, the CD flows quite nicely overall.

Describing Crustaceans’ music is a lot more difficult than enjoying it. The three members, Sam, Karl, and Brian, all play guitar, bass, and drums, so the credits just list their names. Sam is the principal lead vocalist, although the boys do backing vocals and sometimes take lead also. Sam’s voice reminds me a little of Billie Holiday, with maybe a bit of Rickie Lee Jones thrown in — bluesy and laid back, oftentimes kittenish, but not in a contrived sort of way, and always fully capable of going to a wail or growling purr at a moment’s notice. The music is mostly “acoustic”-sounding indie rock with some jazz flavor, the occasional country waltz tempo thrown in, and the aforementioned punk breaks. It’s both cerebral and sexy at the same time, and despite the depth of the instrumental arrangements, accessible to all but the most cloistered pop listeners. Very very good. $8 ppd. P.O. Box 14655, Gainesville, FL 32604.,

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