Austin, Texas is history with a long and storied musical history. From a rich music festival scene that includes SXSW, Austin City Limits and Fun Fun Fest, to being the spawning grounds for punk rock greats like MDC (and all the variously initialed names), Big Boys and Butthole Surfers, it's a city that knows its music scene in every fashion and from every angle. And for over a decade now, the Krum Bums have been a part of that scene.
First formed in 2000 and pounding the pavement ever since, the Krum Bums are a testament to the hardworking ethic of those hardcore punk bands that just keep at it, year after year, through ups and downs. Through lineup changes, tours and recording sessions, they roll on. In a band like this, with no pretty faces or poppy gimmicks, it's obvious that they're in it for their music, and because of this, their latest release Cut The Noose is a record full of punk rock aggression, passion and pure credibility. They're forging forward, hacking away at barriers and trying to gain a foothold. All this hard work seems to be finally paying off, as Cut The Noose looks like it will be the record where they break out and gain the notice previously granted to bands like the Casualties.
Formed by frontman Dave Tejas and guitarist Trae Martinez, Krum Bums have seen their share of lineup changes over the years, and they've been through just about every trial a punk band can go through. Through it all, the core has become more solid and the music more intense. I've personally caught them a few times over the years, and I can say that the latest material is their strongest, forged from years of throwing themselves into it, getting better, getting stronger and getting ready to explode.
Much of the sound of Cut the Noose is the sound of the streets. It's pure, classic street punk in the style that the band has spent many of its years perfecting, with inspired vitriol, abusive guitars and metal-influenced riffs forming a bed of nails for Tejas to rest his gruff vocals upon. When the album opens with "Population Control," it's very clearly done with an aggressive stance that takes no prisoners, punching away with a relentless drive and a fist-pumping anthemic chorus.
This sound and energy are repeated throughout the album, on tracks like the dark, reeling "Last to Go," the thrash-inspired drive of "Starving Wolves" and the aggressive roll of the album's title track. It's a sound that can really only be done admirably by a band with the rigors of years of the road beneath their belts, which the Krum Bums have, and this style of music is a perfect vehicle for their inspired energy and the growling beats that is Tejas.
But the album produces other gems from a surprising direction. On "Gasoline," the Krum Bums display some serious pop sensibilities, but in an entirely sincere way. It's a sound that has just as much polish as spit, and it's honest and uplifting without losing their grit. These addictive sounds exhibit themselves more than a few times throughout the course of the album, from "Get Away," a tune almost scripted to be a crowd chant to the tightly produced and infectious sound of "Gasoline," and on to the pure staccato and metallic twang of "High Highs, Low Lows" with its driving choruses, it’s an honest yet slickly produced sound, full of credibility and heavy on experience without any loss of passion. The Krum Bums have struggled their way for over a decade to produce this album, and it sounds like they're coming out on top.
Recently, when I spoke with Tejas, he summed up the album with these words:
I really wanted to write an album about succeeding throughout any difficulties. We all go through serious problems in life, but i really wanted to express that there's always light at the end of the tunnel.
That seems to sum up the feeling of the album, and energy that has propelled this band for over 10 years. Perhaps this will be when they break out, and grab the notice of the folks who grew up on GBH and the kids who are in to the Casualties. Maybe 2011 and Cut the Noose will show to be the time when the Krum Bums make it big. If it is, it won't be a happy accident. It will be because they've earned it.
Released August 23, 2011