June 13 — “To Mess With Dynamite” by Kids On A Crime Spree

Kids On A Crime Spree

If you only listen to one song today, make it “To Mess With Dynamite” by Kids On A Crime Spree (2011, from the EP We Love You So Bad).
Kids On A Crime Spree is an indie rock band from Oakland who have released one sparkling EP. Make no mistake, though. These are not kids. They’re fronted by 45-year old Mario Hernandez, who is an indie-pop veteran. His first band, Ciao Bella, released one album in 1997. He then formed a band called From Bubblegum To Sky, who released one album in the year 2000. All three members of Kids On A Crime Spree were also in From Bubblegum To Sky.

This is not, by the way, the same Mario Hernandez who co-created the Love and Rockets comic. Incidentally, there’s a good chance that at some point this year, I’ll feature the band Love and Rockets, who were named after that comic.

As the story goes, Hernandez was in Sweden visiting a friend who changed his life by playing Back to Mono, a boxed set of Phil Spector-produced songs. This event, a decade ago, spawned an obsession in Hernandez, and the end result is Kids On A Crime Spree. Hernandez actually moved from California to New York City for a while so he could be close to the Brill Building, where Spector did some of his work. He became obsessed with the “wall of sound” sound and wanted to make his own record like that.

10 years later, he had over 100 songs ready to roll. That mass was culled down to eight tidy songs, and Slumberland Records released the 20-minute EP last year. When it was time to record, Hernandez wanted to stick with the 60s-style recording methods. Heavy layers of sound. Analog tapes.

I certainly hope that there’s more to come, because this EP is really special.

While he says that this band only exists because of the Phil Spector wall of sound obsession, I hear a lot of Jesus and Mary Chain influence on this record. Of course, JAMC would say that Psychocandy was heavily influenced by Spector, though. Just listen to “Just Like Honey” and “Sowing Seeds”. They both use the heavy drum bit from Spector’s most famous song — The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” — as the intro. While Psychocandy has a wall of sound that’s whitewashed in feedback instead of one that’s built in an echo chamber, it’s still influenced by Spector. We’re not here for The Jesus and Mary Chain, though. Not today.

I grabbed this We Love You So Bad a while ago, then somehow lost my digital copy. I recently re-acquired it and re-introduced myself to it. It’s so much better than I had remembered.

Without further ado, here’s today’s song:
“To Mess With Dynamite” by Kids On A Crime Spree

Straight from the drop, I love this song. It starts with the feedback squeal. I’m not a real big fan of the drummer counting off the time to start the song, but she does here. What I do like is Becky Barron’s oh-so-90s drummer girl “ooooooh oooooooooh-oooh oooh” backing vocals. Bill Evans’ supper fuzzy guitar added to that makes this sound like the PERFECT Slumberland Records song. I can’t say it enough, but this label was really on fire in the mid 1990s with the noise-pop/shoegaze stuff. After going dark for a few years, their current lineup is every bit as good as, if not better than, it was during that 1990s heyday.

I can’t really discern any of the lyrics, but I’m not sure that I even care about that. I’m just enjoying the reverb-drenched, less-is-more drumming, and all of the noise-pop deliciousness.

Something about

You’re old enough to know better


You really ought to
let friends remind you
When you let things slip away

And does it really say

I’ll always dig you, baby

at the end? Like I say, though… It doesn’t even matter what the song is “about”. It’s a phenomenal noise-pop song. You should listen to it at least three times today.

You should get a physical copy of We Love You So Bad directly from the Slumberland Records web store. Actually, I don’t even own a physical copy. You should, though. Or you can get your digital download from your normal legal downloading place.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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