News updates for Crayon

Crayon at Luna

20th anniversary reissue with download including 21 bonus songs. Crayon took the burgeoning sound of twee pop and added punk elements, sounding something like a cross between UK indiepop bands like the Pastels and more abrasive American bands like Unwound.


Crayon at This is Book’s Music

If there’s one thing that Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam did for the Pacific Northwest, it showed that it was a great place to find lots of great. The band thing is that the hype of grunge made countless fans assume that all bands sounded the same and had the exact influences. Not every band was super-polished or had the publicity teams to make them a powerful force. Take for example, a group from Bellingham, Washington named Crayon. They released a small handful of 7″ singles and EP’s before they came up with their debut album in 1994. The spirit of Brick Factory (HHBTM) sounded like a group that were willing to show how new they were, even though they existed for four years. They weren’t too polished or sharp, nor did they want to be. They wanted to twist their style of pop music with a lot of garage rock and noise, as if they wanted to join Sonic Youth, King Missile (Dog Fly Religion), Coffin Break, or Hazel and have a huge party. It was loose punk rock with a poppy edge, and their album sounded like something you’d pop into your cassette deck and just get drunk.

That album is now 20 years old and the spirit lives on with its reissue, which has come out on vinyl for the first time. You might assume that having fourteen songs on an album is too much and would lower the sound quality, but the original album was under 40 minutes, which means the sound quality is excellent. Some may feel indie music from the early 90’s have been lost in time but as far as the fans are still out there and show how much this music moved them, a reissue like the one for Brick Factory will continue being reissued. If you get the digital version of this album, you’ll get seven more songs that are from their earlier singles. Brick Factory may not make you feel as long as you were 20 years ago, but it is sure to remember why these songs trilled you in the first place.


Crayon at Dublab

Sometime around 1992/93, after the rise of alternative rock and before the death of Kurt Cobain, there was a sweet spot in the pop-culture landscape for DIY punk, noise rock and the many permutations of lo-fi pop. There was Shimmy Disc, the documentary “The Year Punk Broke”, and the movie slackers. Zines and indie labels celebrated and embraced all that. Crayonwalked that fine line of the not quite aggressive, yet hard enough to not be pure pop. Lo fi to its purest, the re-issue of “Brick Factory” by HHBTM Records is on limited edition vinyl (the album was originally only released on CD and cassette). In addition, the digital download includes 21 bonus songs comprising tracks from 7 inch singles, compilations, 4-track demos and never before heard unreleased songs.


Crayon at Clicky Clicky Music

 A dusty blue, early ’90s Toyota Corolla: we can picture it in our head, we can smell it, we can see the cassette tapes it contained. And when we think of riding in the great Pete Torgo’s car during our later college years, we think of Crayon‘s “The Snap-Tight Wars,” a tremendous, hook-laden indie-pop classic we likely listened to often traveling north and south through New England lo those many years ago. In hindsight, the trio’s song presents as a relic of its time: indeed, our (basically) middle-aged self is not as comfortable with the nakedly heartfelt lyric “I wore you as an emblem of, as a badge of my worth” — delivered in bassist and fronter Sean Tollefson’s distinctive, adenoidal vocal — as our romantic and stupid 20-year-old self was, but such sentimentality at the time scanned as powerfully real. Now it seems representative of a sweet naïveté that perhaps hits a little too close to home when we honestly appraise our 20-year-old self. But of course, that is only one part of “The Snap-Tight Wars,” whose cracking drumming, pulsing bass lines and squalling guitar in the chorus reveals a punk heart and renders the song a most-serviceable rocker. The production is lo-fi but clear and electric, and the song was perhaps the first major calling card for the little band from Bellingham, Washington. Or at least it was for us. “The Snap-Tight Wars” appeared on Crayon‘s terrific, sole full-length release Brick Factory, which is being reissued Tuesday by Athens, Georgia’s Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records. HHBTM‘s reissue — which at least roughly coincides, mathletes, with the record’s 20th anniversary — is actually Brick Factory‘s first release on vinyl; the 2014 issue has been pressed to yellow media in a limited edition of 500 pieces, and is also being released as a cassette. Purchase of the LP includes a digital download of 21 bonus tracks — tracks from 7″ singles, comps, 4-track demos and never-before-heard, unreleased songs — and deluxe pre-orders include yellow vinyl, a cassette and button and apparently even more songs. The very fine people of Crashing Through Publicity have secured permission for us to offer a stream of “The Snap-Tight Wars,” which is embedded below, and we highly recommend that if you have not yet gotten with the now sounds of 1994, get with them now and pre-order Brick Factory from HHBTM right here. Crayon did not survive 1994; Mr. Tollefson and drummer Jeff Fell not long after formed the consistently excellent indie-pop juggernaut Tulleycraft, which we wrote about here in these electronic pages as recently as April 2013, when the act released its wonderful sixth LP Lost In Light Rotation.


Crayon at Too Much Rock


Crayon at Expressway To Yr Skull

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Crayon at Collapse Board

I regret not knowing about so much music when I was growing up. For instance – where was Kraftwerk when I was younger, when I could wander down the Autobahn and invent some elaborate fantasy plot on the spot? Why did I never tap into the teenage rebellion of Nirvana (In Utero, to be exact) until I was 21 and a foreigner in Wales? And why, oh why, did I never take the 35-minute trip to Athens, not once in the seven years that I could legally drive, until I was 24 and a foreigner in my own damn country?

I’ll always be behind on the music front, methinks – but hey, maybe YOU’VE never heard of Crayon, either. Good. That levels the playground, then.

We could use relative terms and track down the cubbyhole that Brick Factory huddled in 21 years ago – pre-Tullycraft, parallel with Nirvana, post-Pastels, y’know how it goes. Or we can think in terms of how badly I wish I had met Crayon a decade ago, when I was even more awkward than I am now.

I knew nothing about grunge, nothing about punk, not even a smidgeon about new wave because the RAWK world of machismo war lords and prog gods frowns upon those Euro-peein’ sissies. Oy. How different the world would have been if I knew that some kids couldn’t sing to save their lives, and may have thrown up right there on stage. OR that some bands formed in defense against the meanies of the world, against the handsome schmucks that had no trouble with girls or talking in general.

Crayon owned that turf that many of us struggled in as kids. And it’s OK – they’re on our team. Brick Factory is our home base. Brad Roberts is our team captain – but only because he pouted and whined for the spot, and only Joe Jack Talcum could throw a more endearing tantrum.

Oh, this LP. So wonderfully weird and bratty, so loud and crude. How, how, indeed can the silly verses of “Chutes and Ladders” collide with such spiky thrashness and sound so lovely? (I’ve said this before haven’t I? Yes, for Fly Ashtray – huzzah!) How could anyone trump the Pixies for grin-inducing catchiness, for simple dubious bass and hummable melody (“Snap-Tight Wars”)?

And yet, Crayon could match the Pale Saints in melancholic beauty without burying themselves in reverb (“Western Flyer”) – then, at the drop of a dime, unleash beefy Cramps riffs while admitting how completely inept they are at the romance game (“Pedal”).

I’m not the boy to be a safety net
I’m not the boy to fall in love with a
dreamy, dreamy, dreamy girl

Now, Crayon are the bunch that can cheer ya up with their goofy jokes, not to woo you over but because that’s just who they are, and hell, who wants to be sad and lonely? If the one-minute “Honey Bunny” doesn’t have you giggling all over your desk, then GO AWAY SQUARE. Ditto for the Beat Happening-like romp of “Knee-High Susans” (”oops, I forgot – your name is Kim”), which is the dictionary definition of adorable.

And then there’s “Schrim Loop” – which, had Crayon reached international acclaim, would have been on a gazillion indie pop mixtapes by now, to a gazillion girls and guys, alongside Ride and House of Love and Sonic Youth – and, while we’re at it, this song by Josef K (presented in its vastly inferior mono version, for maximum nostalgic impact), which has been in my head for a week now and still devastates me.

Crayon, I love you. I love all of you. You embody the rockier rock of the 90s, the underdogs, introverts and unloved nerds who are the only ones that GET me. Please, let’s be friends.

(I kid you not, HHBTM HQ has been bombarded with pre-orders for this sucker on vinyl, so ya better act now. If, by chance, you’re reading this in the UK, you have the once-in-a-lifetime [I exaggerate] chance to snap up a copy yrself while Eureka California’s on tour. [And yes, that was a REALLY SHAMELESS PLUG. But they’re worth plugging.])


Crayon at Too Much Rock