Music Reviews
Crystal Stilts

Crystal Stilts

Alight of Night


Coming off like a supercharged, busted-transistor hybrid of Beat Happening and Joy Division, Crystal Stilts, like all the best garage rock, makes the formula for essential music so fucking easy. Why aren’t more people doing this? Why are they fannying around for months in overpriced studios with expensive equipment when all you need is a practice amp, darkling inspiration and over-sized sunglasses? The surly youth of Crystal Stilts have the fucking chops to back up their impenetrable disaffected pose. Garage rock of this ilk is inspirational and energizing just because its base elements are so simple and so perennial that a subliminal connection with the listener’s ears automatically forms. Crystal Stilts must have an impeccable record collection; there are traces of the aforementioned bands plus Bo Diddly, the Ventures, Gun Club, the Count Five, Christian Death, the Crystals, the Cramps and the Hawks backing Bob Dylan. Crystal Stilts’ music is all cavernous and overloaded menace. The guitar licks are swampy and chime and clang like dungeon chains, the bass is a cudgel, crystalline Martin Rev organ and harmonica wheeze occasionally pierces the mire, the stand up drumming adds liquid propulsion, and the vocals are a wonderful echoey moan that is all icy Reid brothers cool.

Alight of Night sounds as much like my dad pulling out his box of scratchy old 45s as it does Ian Curtis howling over the red-hot ending of “Transmission.” One-Two. Three-Four. But don’t get the wrong idea, Alight of Night doesn’t at all sound like a tribute act, this is music that sounds gorgeously alien and modern. Dark purple waves of sharp, jangly, cold, despairing primitive cool come rushing at you. Most of the riffs and vamps and drumbeats you’ll be able to pick out from a mile away, but have they ever been combined in this particular form and fashion yet? Where were you, smart guy?

A revelatory noise just as apt for the Cavern Club as CBGBs as the Batcave as the Crocodile Cafe as All Tomorrow’s Parties.


Recently on Ink 19...