steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

review
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info opinion

Benny Crespo's Gang

Self-titled CD

Cod Music

Genre: rock, alternative rock, indie rock

Iceland

June 10, 2009

I won't be the first to say it, but this doesn't sound anything like what you'd expect from an Icelandic band. Benny Crespo's Gang plays extravagant, heavy rock music more Mars Volta than Sigur Ros. Vibrant and impassioned, they possess energy in droves, smartly producing chugging guitar chords and frantic vocal melodies. The approach may be a tad alt-rock for indieheads, but it's still damn melodic and impressively explosive, and that's certainly worth something.

The gang has an overt penchant for sprawling, progressive epics, as evidenced on the nearly eight minute climax-then-stroll of "Shine" and the chaotic intensity of extensive "Numb Face." The approach can be a bit overwhelming at first listen, although the band's spirit turns out to be remarkably infectious; this, of course, is partly due to the immediacy of the pop hooks on offer.

Although the lengthy epics comprise some of the better moments, additional strong moments include potential single "Next Weekend" and impressively aggressive "Johnny's Got a Baby." As well, ten minute "Conditional Love" is a startling, varied journey that even dabbles in more typically Icelandic, delicate trip-hop. Overall, Benny Crespo's Gang's new album may not have the hip appeal of some of Iceland's signature acts, but it is nonetheless an impressively intense listen, as well as an astounding technical journey to boot.

NXNE INFO: Benny Crespo's Gang will be playing on June 19 at the Neutral Lounge as part of Toronto's North by Northeast festival.

benny crespo's gang's myspace

80%

 

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 9 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2009]