Negative World

In the spirit of our Rated Rookie features, I thought it fitting to find a Primitive Future-esque band (whatever criteria that involves) that will no doubt turn a few heads in the coming year. The trio Cruddy is likely one of the coveted house bands at legendary Austin dive Beerland, even amongst a very crowded and incestuous punk and hardcore scene in that city. Formed by members of Total Abuse and Best Fwends, the band appeared in brief spurts in 2010, with an incendiary first single and an appearance on the revered Casual Victim Pile compilation. Their debut full-length surfaced late last year as the first record in a long time from 12XU. For those who don’t know, 12XU is the hobby label of Matador Records guru Gerard Cosloy. Getting the man, who has long been a huge proponent for Austin’s gnarly unwashed, to vouch for Negative World is enough of an endorsement, but having him bring 12XU out of hibernation to actively press the record suggests this is something special.

Even in an age when hardcore has become a norm, able to be twisted into conceptual epics (see Fucked Up) or performed as an ironic farce (see Trash Talk), Cruddy manage to keep it as trad as possible without stepping on any toes. All the usual suspects inform Negative World: Crass, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, and the Urinals. There’s even a tried and true cover of “Burn it Down” by the Suicide Commandos. Yet, among the 23-minute, 14-song blitzkrieg of Negative World, Cruddy tends to sound as if they are living on the outside looking in. These aren’t true-life experiences. These are not hard-luck tales. This is not as nihilistic as one might think entering a hardcore record, despite the crude rush of the textures and the constant velocity of the trio crashing into each other. Where the classics tend to mirror the time, battling Reagan and the establishment or suburban boredom, Negative World trap a vision of what could be. Imagine Winston Smith (the protagonist of 1984) as Darby Crash, warning of a future state where one must “Hide Inside,” rely on “Robotic Service,” and hire “Deconstruction Workers” to remove the rubble. If you play along with this dystopian hypothesis, than Negative World is the perfect soundtrack, ending with the album’s fiercest and most biting commentary in the Wipers-esque buzz of “History’s Remains.”

So how does this differ from our past and how does it measure against bands in our present that blatantly co-opt the hardcore aesthetes without remorse or respect? Cruddy, while playing through a damaged thrash and burn worthy of their namesake, are actually quite polished. The riffs rarely become unstuck, the rhythms rarely implode, and the messages barked out are clear as day. They even manage to sneak in a few detuned notes and spastic blasts that give evidence that the band survived ’90s noise-punk like Polvo, Truman’s Water and Melt Banana. This is high pro glow hardcore, thriving with the same attitude that defined the genre, but giving it a dedicated and endearing sheen that simply rises above their peers. Of course, Negative World can’t be made a second time, but it’s obvious throughout the album that Cruddy knows this, and they obviously don’t plan on rewriting history.
Kevin J. Elliott