from blind to blue (craven hill, 1999)
MOJO (UK) – March 2000
Debut album from Memphis quartet. Nine years in the oven, carefully sauteed with The Posies and Candyskins among others.
Crash Into June (they take their name from a Game Theory song) aren’t shy about their influences. In fact, they lay their cards on the table from the first track.
Pete Ham is, quite simply, a homage to the man who made Badfinger click. From there they check a host of Beatles-inspired luminaries, including Teenage Fanclub (on the chunky Aurora Borealis), Matthew Sweet and The Connells, to name but a few. Along the way they throw out an impressive selection of hooklines, while singer Dave Norris lets himself run a little hoarse in the best John Lennon tradition when he needs to.
With every song carefully honed for instant recall, From Blind To Blue makes for a highly impressive debut – let’s hope it’s not another virtual decade before the follow-up.
Pop Culture Press (US) – March 2000
The story makes some kind of cosmic sense: a guitar-pop foursome from Memphis who combine the direction of their geographic/stylistic forerunners (i.e. Big Star) with a heavier, shoegazer-type sound. And wouldn’t you know, when you actually hear the album, it still makes sense.
Crash Into June clearly revels in both sides of its personality without being beholden to either, and the result can be wondrous. You can hear it in the bridge that gives “I Forgot” its sinister quality; the cranked guitars and mercenary hi-hat that spark the anthemic “Top of the World” (most assuredly not the Carpenters’ tune); the groove these guys put into “Here Comes A Vision” that lands exactly halfway between Matthew Sweet and Ride.
Consistent throughout are guitarist Dave Norris’ earnest singing and the work he and the band (which includes bassist/brother John) invest in the songwriting. By conservative estimate six of these eleven songs would fit nicely onto alternative radio, the amorphous beast that it is. Extra points for giving props to a Chilton contemporary (“Pete Ham”).
Bucketfull of Brains (UK) – August 1999
As Teenage Fanclub had done with “Gene Clark,” Memphis’s crash Into june come up with a song named after a seminal songwriter – “Pete Ham.” The song itself makes no particular reference to Badfinger’s main man, but is instead a joyous and catchy ode to the evocative power of pop. The rough & ready guitars jangle with bite, while the vocals deliver all the sweetness required. In fact, the comparisons with TFC don’t end there, as they often remind you of Scotland’s finest with perhaps a bit of Gigolo Aunts thrown in for good measure. “Aurora Borealis” is a good example of this, as it would have fitted perfectly on Grand Prix. Most of the album lives up to a very high calibre, though most often than not, I find myself returning to that first stellar number over and over again…It’s got that British 60s feeling…Smells like Memphis spirit though!
Shake it Up (Canada) – July 1999
Lovely, ethereal guitar pop is the standard here, alternating between hypnotic melodies and sharp biting guitar sounds. crash into june have delivered a real gem here in From Blind To Blue.
Stating their intention early with the opening homage “Pete Ham,” crash into june are disciples of “the hook” – From Blind To Blue is loaded with them. When adopting a toned down and cooler sound, crash into june succeed greatly with tracks like the swaying “I Forgot” and the opening “Pete Ham.” Preferring to add a little more bite to their guitars – there’s some stellar rhythmic playing here from Dave Norris and Chris Gafford – gives more of an edge to tracks like the crashing “Everything You Do.” Most successful here is the triumphant sound of “Top Of The World,” where some simple and hard power chords drive the song into anthem-like territory.
The accent on melody here is quite strong, and you clearly get the impression that this is one hard working band – there’s nothing done “halfway” here. Arrangements such as those on the folk-flavoured “Susan” and the irresistible “Here Comes A Vision” (the vocals really shine here) reveal an impressive sense of melody and rhythm. There are many such impressive moments here on From Blind To Blue.
Taking their cues from the likes of Badfinger, perhaps with a little bit of Big Star thrown in for good measure, crash into june have updated that guitar pop sound for the new millennium. The future looks bright indeed. (***1/2 out of 5)
Not Lame Recordings (US) – March 1999
Tennessee is brimming with pop talent folks and it’s not just Nashville. From Memphis, come a band 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. Top of the line recommendation!
Blank Pages (US) – June 1999
Other than their first-rate music, there are two reasons to think crash into june are really cool: the band took their name from the title of a Game Theory song, yet sound nothing like Game Theory, and the opening cut on from blind to blue, “Pete Ham,” is nothing like Badfinger! What this Memphis based four piece does do is warm guitar pop that takes the best of the thick jangle of Teenage Fanclub and the harmony filled roots of early Grapes of Wrath, and creates a nice hybrid. Whether it’s jangly ballads like “Pete Ham,” “I Forgot” or uptempo, catchy numbers like “Wave,” “Nothing New,” and “Butterfly,” from blind to blue will put a smile on your face and some sun in your heart.
(Bash included from blind to blue in his top 25 pop CDs for the first quarter of 1999.)
Luke Magazine (UK) – December 1999
Memphis popsters crash into june seem to have it all going their way at the moment. From Blind To Blue is picking up great press wherever it’s heard, David Bash put them in his quarterly top 25, they made a big impact at the 2nd International Pop Overthrow, their track Pete Ham is everyone’s favourite pop song of the moment and just to round off a spectacular year, they’re now going to get a glorious review in Luke. Could things get any better? I think not. The album kicks off with Pete Ham, a soaring power pop classic that pays tribute to the great man without either mentioning him directly or sounding in the slightest like Badfinger. Instead, if comparisons are to be made, it’s Scotland’s own Teenage Fanclub that would come top of the list (as they do on the band’s website). It’s a charming combination of sparkling guitars, big goofy melodies and harmonies that spin and flow like Stevie Nicks on magic dust. The other tracks that really hit home include Wave, Aurora Borealis and Here Comes A Vision and in succinct conclusion, crash into june are a band to be watched closely and heard immediately. (8)
The Band Next Door (US) – February 2000
“Power pop” isn’t a complicated musical genre. In fact, it’s a series of little things that separate great power pop from the not-so. These power pop “standards of excellence” include guitars that are suitably crunchy, razor-edge harmonies, obligatory “do-do-do’s” and “la-la-la’s,” and most importantly, killer hooks and melodies.
While the music of Memphis, Tennessee’s Crash Into June drives along the same musical roads as classic power popsters Big Star and Teenage Fanclub, we’re lucky that it’s a drive that never seems to get boring,
and one that’s as scenic as the first time we heard “September Gurls.” Crash, led by brothers Dave Norris (guitar, vocals) and John Norris (bass), remain strictly faithful to the sounds of their musical progenitors on their 1999 release From Blind to Blue.
Paying homage to musical influences seems to be popular in the power pop genre, and just as the Replacements penned Alex Chilton as a nod to the Big Star frontman, Crash opens the album with Pete Ham, named after
the Badfinger songwriter who produced a series of early melodic 1970’s classics before tragically taking his own life in 1975. The song even covers the same thematic ground- songs that you can’t get out of your
head- as Alex Chilton, substituting the Replacement’s ode of “I’m in love/With that song” with their own, “What’s that song/It sounds like heaven?” and then later, “It’s got that British sixties feeling/Hooks that keep me on the ceiling.”
But while the hooks are plentiful, they’re never overbearing, and just subtle enough to be interesting. Like a musical Magic Eye picture, the very best in Crash comes during the second or third listen to the music. From Blind to Blue is filled with songs you didn’t realize how much you liked until you found yourself singing them in your sales meeting the next morning. The album’s fifth track, Here Comes a Vision, is a perfect example, starting off with a standard three chord and drum rock riff, drifting into a dreamy verse, but then soaring into one of the more lovely, uplifting choruses to grace an album in quite some time. It’s one of those moments in a song so classic that you swear you’ve heard it before, but just can’t remember where. Other winners on the album include the bouncy I Forgot (pure guitar pop bliss), and the tight, gorgeous Nothing New, crammed with crystal guitars reminiscent of early-period REM.
The album ends strong with the Chilton-esque Susan, in which Crash Into June skillfully pulls a handful from its power pop bag of tricks (clear acoustic guitars and beautiful harmonies) to turn what could have been a trite, VH1-ready love song into something fragile and worth hearing. After all, with great power pop it’s all about the little things.