Written by: Dave Cantrell
If you go rummaging far enough toward the back of the cluttered attic that is most music freaks’ record- and CD-buying history, you’ll find evidence of a wide curiosity pretty much gone off the rails. People talk about being vinyl junkies or whatever but the truth lies deeper in the marrow. Yes, the fetishism of the object is definitely a ‘thing’ that would adapt nicely to any variation of a Jungian or Freudian matrix you’d care to mention but the true core of all that obsession lies at the heart of one drive: the joy of discovery. Most of us have ‘that’ one origin moment that broke the best of all hells loose. I’ll not divulge mine to avoid at least a curl of embarrassment but suffice to say it was the mid-70s and the first time hearing a certain, umm, ‘God-like’ guitarist that turned my head in such a way I never turned it back. That one mote of exposure took me back to that musician’s beginnings, took me to other sessions he’d been on, basically was the primary door-opening I needed and within what seemed like a few quick months the lengths of the hallways containing those many, increasingly divergent doors grew longer by the day – very quickly blues was being explored which led to jazz but mostly it was the almost limitless whorl of so-called rock that pulled me in so many hithers and yons – until, well, here we are, you the reader being subjected to this random writer, now approaching his seventies, heralding his own edenic birth moment, that one simple (in retrospect pedestrian but necessary) epiphanal 30 seconds or so of theretofore unheard bliss that broke the dam and took him to the headwaters. Or some such frothing nonsense the point being that from my perspective the only way to a fervent appreciation of all that’s possible in this unique corner of the arts that so possesses just about our every waking – and, for that matter, dreaming – moment is to be omni-curious. Which, as it so inevitably would, brings us to (who else) Kramer.
It wasn’t my intention to introduce the newest video from the guy’s exquisite 45 RPM wood-encased boxset – on Shimmy-Disc and first extolled here at SEM back when it was released in April – with some offhand, personal, Joyce-by-way-of-suburban-America discursion but as I thought about Kramer’s collaborator on this particular side such thoughts poured through me and what was I to do. Rob Crow, if you don’t know, has been all over that vast terrain of often-eccentric, always-engaging, rather oddly-tilted rock music since at least the mid-90s when he formed Heavy Vegetable in Encinitas in 1992, a band that would not escape this writer’s attention simply due to the name. Balancing the pastoral with the grunge-tinged anarchic and coming away with a sound that was at once charming and challenging in equal measure, fate immediately made it impossible that Kramer would not inevitably, unavoidably, be drawn into Crow’s orbit or the other way around it doesn’t matter. This was a meant-to-be proposition, an assertion borne out with a kind of sweet, brash sincerity on the “Kerosene” single we’re premiering today. What’s great and somehow unsurprising is that the track seems to carry, light on its shoulders, both Heavy Vegetable’s shambolic youthful appeal and the more intricate restraint of Crow’s best-known project Pinback, a band, by the way, that I never got fully pulled toward and now find myself eager to not just hear more of them but to go deep. Y’see, whereas it’s the third word in that phrase ‘joy of discovery’ that would appear to be the most vital, listening to this single – and in fact the whole damned boxset – has made it clear to me that it’s that first word that lays claim to having the most gravity. The song – and its video – is intimate, it’s unguarded and complex, reflective yet wholly universal, which, thinking about it, is not a little like joy itself. [grab it and the whole box of Shimmy-Disc joy for yourself here]