Categories
Music Reviews

Sweet Crude

Sweet Crude

Créatures

Rhyme and Reason

“This parade’s coming to you. We really could use you,” sings Sam Craft on the opening number of Sweet Crude’s new CD. It’s a reference to the traditional second line parades in New Orleans, where musicians and residents commune in the streets to dance, sing, have a good time and share a manifestation of their shared culture. Sweet Crude’s particular parade is a party celebrating Francophone Louisiana that messes with expectations in the best possible way.

When I mention French language music from Louisiana, most people are going to think of Cajun bands like Feufollet or the Savoy Family band. Maybe, some Zydeco bands will come to mind too. The young musicians in Sweet Crude definitely grew up with these sounds, but they’re also part of a larger world that includes TV on the Radio, Animal Collective, and the Talking Heads, which are of course, the folk bands of the modern era.

Créatures is a celebration. It’s a celebration of Francophone culture in Louisiana that embraces the 21st Century. Craft and fellow vocalist Alexis Marceaux, effortlessly switch between French and English as they sing about daydreams, parades and stuff hanging on power lines. There is enough English to keep a monolingual like myself feeling included (and also giving me awkward Carpool Karaoke moments when I want to sing along to the French parts but just can’t form the words).

I am way beyond thinking that music can save the world. I do think Sweet Crude may have the power to save the day with their infectious joy. They may also play a role in helping kids from multi-lingual households see that there is a place in the world for them too. Their tongues may be split in two, but Sweet Crude spread the good times in both of their native languages. I, for one, am happy to jump in line with this parade. I hope you’ll have a change to join this second line too.

www.sweetcrudeband.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Sweet Crude

Sweet Crude

Critters

There is no denying that the news has been pretty horrid lately. I’ve found myself retreating to Critters and Sweet Crude videos on YouTube as an escape from the negativity that threatens to drown me. My social media feeds are peppered with Sweet Crude posts. It surprised me that I’ve been falling back on this band that I didn’t even know existed a month ago. When I saw Sweet Crude at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, I thought they were good. Since then, my appreciation has only grown.

Critters is something of a tease for a full-length album, Créatures, that’s slated for later this year. The EP features four songs showcasing Sweet Crude’s idiosyncratic Cajun indie rock sound. The seven-piece band features two drummers, two keyboardists, two vocalists (who also play percussion instruments) and a bass player. No guitars. Their sound couldn’t be further from traditional Cajun bands like Beausoleil or the Savoy Family Band, yet the joyfulness you associate with Cajun tunes is here is spades.

Lead off track, “Isle Dans La Mer”, kicks off with a plucked violin lead from main vocalist Sam Craft and heavy percussion before leading into the first of several sing along choruses. Alexis Marceaux’s vocals play counter point to Craft and soar on the Na, Na, Na chorus.

Marceaux takes the lead on “Mon Esprit” with her angelic voice soaring over keyboard washes and clicking rhythms of wood on wood. I’d tell you what the lyrics are about if I spoke French, but I don’t. It doesn’t really matter though. I don’t need to understand the words to be transported by them.

If I were still doing a radio show, “Laissez les Lazy” is the song I’d be playing to death. The English lyric appeals to my sense of absurd, Craft opens with the classic lines, “Daydream fever, think I’m getting heavy, Heavy like confetti.” Marceaux takes over the chorus cajoling us, “here’s your chance, the door is wide open, the chance for staring over.” It’s just such an uplifting song; I can’t help but play it over and over.

Critters closes with a song that dares you not to smile. “La Cheminee” is a goofy love song with a so catchy it could be irritating doot doot doot vocal hook. The French verses lead to an English chorus of “What I need is what you’ve got, unless you’ve got it bad, (in which case I’ve got enough for both of us).”

In case there is an ambiguity left in this review, I really like this band. They are playing scattered dates around the US and Canada this summer. Take a chance if they’re in your area and go see them or just listen to Critters on your headphones and try not to smile.

sweetcrudeband.bandcamp.com/album/critters-ep