Chrome Cranks

  • Chrome Cranks
  • Chrome Cranks (PCP) 1994 
  • Dead Cool (Crypt) 1995 
  • Love in Exile (PCP) 1996 
  • Chrome Cranks/Foetus
  • Vice Squad Dick EP (PCP) 1994 

Put a couple of sanitation engineers together in a room and, before long, you’ll be inundated with yarns about the unearthing of everything from diamond rings to human heads (and, more than likely, an argument or two about which of those makes a better find). The same is true of junk hoarders like Chrome Cranks Peter Aaron and Jerry Teel (the former conductor of New York sleaze supremos the Honeymoon Killers), whose collective obsession with primitive garage-rock, backwoods rockabilly — indeed, no-budget recreation of all stripes — provides plenty of common ground for the erection of this trash-culture landfill.

The quartet’s self-titled debut could easily pass for a reincarnation of Teel’s old band, with sonic debris piled just as high as the lyrics’ softcore debauchery — not that there’s anything wrong with that. “Doll in a Dress” and “Lo-End Buzz” don’t offer much in the way of, uh, subtext, but the claret-splattered guitar of William Weber (late of GG Allin’s Murder Junkies) provides plenty of sinister B-movie edge. The collaboration with Foetus never really gets on track, since the co-conspirators seem to have very different ideas about what constitutes a pulp-fiction vibe, with the Cranks favoring a hard-drinking Raymond Chandler portrayal, while Thirlwell shifts into deep James Ellroy-fueled psychodrama.

The ominous bass/maracas duel that opens the stuttering sludgabilly title track sets the tone for Dead Cool, a gristly swamp-trawl that threatens to tunnel out of the Lower East Side and not stop until it reaches the Big Easy. With ex-Sonic Youth/Pussy Galore/Bewitched drummer Bob Bert aboard, the Cranks are free to slip one level further into the primordial ooze, which clearly sparks Aaron. His interjections — he’s content to groan, yelp and whisper curt phrases into the squall — charge the air with a Pentecostal fervor. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

[Deborah Sprague]