Another Vivid Scene (craven hill/madeline, 2003)

Pop Culture Press | Amplifier | Memphis Flyer | The Commercial Appeal | Not Lame Recordings | |

Pop Culture Press – Fall & Winter 2003 (Issue No. 57)

With photo art reminiscent of William Eggleston and a few Big Star personnel in evidence, crash into june are not shy about reminding you they’re from Memphis. Nor should they be. This sophomore release has been in the can for over a year awaiting release, and it’s well worth the wait, one of the finest Memphis pop records of the last 10 years.

This time out, Neilson Hubbard produced the record (as well as adding harmonies to most songs and some instrumentation, too). It’s tempting to credit Hubbard with crash into june’s elevation from ‘good’ to ‘great,’ while noting that this album sounds more nearly like the great Hubbard record I’ve been awaiting than the new one under his own name. Ardent regular Richard Rosebrough adds percussion, as he did to Big Star records, while one of the best tracks (an unreleased two-year-old Hubbard composition), “Just A Guy,” features short-time Big Star bassist John Lightman (who never actually appeared on a studio Big Star track). Hubbard pal Garrison Starr adds lovely harmonies to “Halfway There.”

But it’s the Norris brothers, Dave and Johnny, along with guitarist Dylan Cranmer and fine Memphis drummer John Boswell who ultimately make this a great record. While fellow Memphians The Reigning Sound get more great press, they;ve yet to make a record this accomplished. Check out the opener “Adorable,” “Smitten,” or “Never On Your Side” for examples of power pop at its finest. Highly recommended.

Kent H. Benjamin

Amplifier Magazine – November-December 2003 (Issue No. 39)

crash into june’s second release is reminiscent at times of 1980s guitar-driven bands like the Church or Red Rockers, but offers lighter moments as well. Both approaches succeed, thanks to guitarist/back-up vocalist Dylan Cranmer’s ability to cut loose on energetic tracks like “Breakthrough” and “My Beautiful Trainwreck,” or strum an acoustic solo in the middle of “Smitten.”

Vocalist/guitarist Dave Norris also plays an essential role, sneering on the mean-spirited “Adorable” and directing a series of put-downs toward a James Dean wannabe on “Fairmountebank,” a fun rocker that’s propelled by John Boswell’s drumming. Yet Norris sounds sincere when he offers advice on the optimistic “Halfway There,” on which singer/songwriter Garrison Starr guests.

Former Big Star member John Lightman lends a hand by playing bass on the pure power pop of “Just a Guy,” and Ross Rice’s keyboards adds multiple layers on several tracks. crash into june are also indebted to producer Neilson Hubbard for pitching in as a musician and songwriter on this consistently melodic effort.

Terrence Flamm

Memphis Flyer – August 2003

Local pop-rockers Crash Into June have hit a new peak with Another Vivid Scene (Craven Hill/Madeline; Grade: A-), their excellent follow-up to the band’s 1999 debut, From Blind to Blue. Recorded at Easley-McCain Studio and produced by Mississippi singer-songwriter Neilson Hubbard (the band turns Hubbard’s “Just a Guy” into a sunny, radio-ready anthem), Another Vivid Scene makes good on a sound often compared to such power-pop luminaries as Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, and Matthew Sweet; it’s a batch of smart, bracing guitar-rock with hooks galore and considerable staying power.

The quartet — brothers Dave (vocals and guitar) and Johnny Norris (bass), John Boswell (drums), and Dylan Cranmer (guitar) — shows a lot of range within their core sound, leaping from the hard-charging “Breakthrough” to the downbeat romantic lament “Read Me Wrong,” from the straight-up romantic pop of “Smitten” to the vaguely alt-countryish “Looking for an Out.”

The band also flashes a sharp, teasing lyrical wit on “Adorable” (rhymes, sort of, with “horrible”) and especially the playful “Fairmountebank” (“Thinks he looks just like James Dean/So rugged, yet so pristine/Don’t believe a word he says/He’s living out a lie/Just look at him and sigh”)

Though the band itself certainly deserves most of the credit for the record’s consistently sharp songcraft, they get some help from a few notable friends. Area expatriate Garrison Starr’s backing vocals and Hubbard’s acoustic guitar add grace notes to the gentle, bittersweet “Halfway There,” where the soaring harmonies on the chorus are one of the album’s highlights. Ross Rice and Big Star alums John Lightman and Richard Rosebrough contribute to several tracks, and Dora’s Jared Rawlinson adds sleigh bells to “Never on Your Side.”

Ultimately, Another Vivid Scene is the rare local record that sounds ready for commercial radio play without ever seeming like it’s compromised or striving too hard for acceptance. It’s likely to be one of the year’s best local releases.

Crash Into June will perform at the Atlantis Music Conference in Atlanta Thursday, July 31st, and then return for a local performance Saturday, August 2nd, at the Hi-Tone Café, with 40 Watt Moon.

Chris Herrington

The Commercial Appeal – June 2003

Fans of Memphis-distilled pop-rock – the apotheosis being Big Star – will not want to miss the crash into june CD release party for a new album, “Another Vivid Scene,” 10 p.m. Saturday at the Gibson Beale Street Showcase Lounge, 145 Lt. George W. Lee. The Bluff City band takes a big leap here compared to 1999’s “from blind to blue,” where the singing, playing and (most of all) songwriting have come into their delightful own – highlights include the catchy Adorable and Fairmountebank.

With the help of such melodious guests such as Neilson Hubbard, who produced the record, the quartet have a gorgeously crafted affair that stands up to many a Big Star acolyte from Teenage Fanclub to Matthew Sweet. Cover is $5; call 544-7998.

Bill Ellis

Not Lame Recordings – July 2003

2003 release and follow up to their spectacular(and out of print) “From Blind To Blue” release from 4 years ago. From Memphis, Crash Into June are capable of dredging up old local archetypes from Big Star to the Scruffs, but modernizing them through the glasses of influence of Matthew Sweet at his most sweetest and classicisms of “Bandwagonesque”-era Teenage Fanclub, Dwight Twilley(I hear homages to Bill Pitcock IV here) or The Connells. The accents all have rootsy, solidly pop character and Matthew Sweet vocals give it an earthy, honest feel beginning to end, suitably crunchy, razor-edge harmonies and sparkling guitars and vocals strewn out over 11 songs. They have pulled out all the stops on this release……..The album is produced by Neilson Hubbard (Parasol Records), engineered by Stuart Sikes (The White Stripes, Jets to Brazil, The Promise Ring) and mixed by Clay Jones (Counting Crows, Neilson Hubbard, Buddy Guy), the record takes crash’s hook-laden, guitar-driven songwriting to a new level and features guest performances by Hubbard, Garrison Starr, John Lightman (Big Star) and Richard Rosebrough (Chris Bell’s I Am the Cosmos). Now, that’s a cast of talent! And the results are all here. Extremely Highly Recommended.

Bruce Brodeen – September 2003

Crash Into June — Another Vivid Scene (Craven Hill): This Memphis band plays a variety of guitar pop styles, and they are stunningly effective when they combine influences from some of the big British guitar rock bands (think Catherine Wheel and Adorable, the latter whom is covered on a nice version of “Homeboy”) with a melodic sense that, at times, is quite winsome. This creates an interesting sound, since it is not as heavy as some of their UK influences, yet it still has a similar sense of scale. This really comes through on the second cut, “Breakthrough”, which is brimming with great ideas and has a superb arrangement that allows each one to pay off.

Not everything is so dramatic. In fact, the next tune, “Read Me Wrong” is sweet and insinuating, augmented by guest Doug Easley’s pedal steel, creating a feel akin to The Velvet Crush during their Gene Clark-inspired phase. Meanwhile, ‘Fairmountebank” is pithy and impressive, with Dylan Cramer making like Johnny Marr on the chiming guitar, and the song folding in a nice Southern pop melody, with a very cool bridge coming out of the chorus. Dave Norris gets a showcase for his slightly reedy and affecting vocals on “Looking for an Out”. The song could be an emo ballad from The Get Up Kids, but Crash Into June adds some distinctive touches, aided by producer Neilson Hubbard, who adds a haunting spare piano part and simmering Hammond organ. The song is chillbump inducing.

This disc is immediately attractive, but needs a few plays to grasp, since the band’s ability to integrate a wealth of influences and their well-thought out arrangements don’t necessarily reveal themselves immediately. Ultimately, this leads to a much more rewarding collection. Hubbard and Crash Into June have collaborated on an album that is as hard to pigeonhole as it is easy to enjoy repeatedly.

Mike Bennett – January 2004

As long as bands like Crash Into June are able to assimilate the weight of classic pop-rock’s influences into everything that passes for modern rock music, fans of melodic rock ‘n’ roll will always be well served. Consisting of the Norris brothers – Dave and Johnny (on guitar and bass respectively) together with John Boswell (drums) and Dylan Cranmer (guitar), Crash Into June parlay a energetic blend of hook-savvy guitar rock with a rustic songwriting sensibility that translates into a distinctive burst of verve and craft that leaves an impression that lasts.

The Norris brothers may name-check the likes of Teenage Fanclub, The Posies, Matthew Sweet et al, in the band’s bio but certainly the inspiration of powerpop & alt-country figures greatly in their raison d’être. The latter informs wonderfully fragile tracks like the gorgeous “Read Me Wrong,” the poignant “Halfway There,” the radiant “Smitten” and the forlorn “Looking For An Out.” But if it’s vigor you want, then look no further than the gloriously upbeat “Adorable,” the new wave Kinksy “Breakthrough,” the scratchy dynamic “Just A Guy” and the phase-drenched “My Beautiful Trainwreck.”

Crisply produced by Neilson Hubbard, Another Vivid Scene, is one you may have missed in 2003 but there’s still time to redress a serious error. A-

Kevin Mathews