If I had done a best reissues of 2014 this long overdue reissue of Crayon‘s Brick Factory would have been near the top of it. Formed in the early 90’s in the sleepy college town of Bellingham, Washington, Crayon were equally influenced by the punk inspired grunge of Seattle and the punk inspired indiepop of Olympia. Bellingham is about 80 miles north of Seattle and 150 mile north of Olympia, but Crayon sounded like they were about right in the middle of both of those city’s well known aesthetics at the time.
The two styles juxtaposed with each other in the form of Crayon’s two singers. Guitarist Brad Roberts’ songs were the raw punk ones that sounded like a wounded Husker Du or Sebadoh (Brick Factory was one of Lou Barlow’s favorites records of 1994 as told to Spin). The other half of the songs were written and sung by bassist Sean Tollefson had a more twee feel that nodded to Beat Happening.
Most people lean to either Robert’s punk scrawl or Tollefson’s embryonic twee, but the accidental genius of Crayon was that they had the guts to combine them into one band and one album. Tollefson went on to form Tullycraft along with Crayon drummer Jeff Fell. Robertson seemed to disappear from the music universe along with the CD only release of Brick Factory that went out of print shortly after its release. Now for the first time ever Happy Happy Birthday To Me have reissued the album on vinyl. It comes with a bonus download of the band’s other 7-inch singles, compilations tracks, demos and live cuts. Twenty years later it still sounds unique and great.
Get ready for another lesson in indie pop. Who begat whom and what is the real origin of Tullycraft? It all starts with Crayon, who were the loudest, most raucous, and lowest-of-fi on …One Last Kiss. They came from Bellingham, Washington which is about a three hour drive north from Seattle. They may have been heavily influenced by the Pastels, but they sounded like the angry little brother of the Pastels. The vocals were kind of winey and shouted at the same time. It was kind of rudimentary and juvenile sounding, but catchy in a primal, punk rock way. Jeff Fell and Sean Tollefson would go on to form Tullycraft with Wimp Factor 14 guitarist Gary Miklusek (another …One Last Kiss band, but we’ll get to that in a future post). Crayon’s MySpace is threatening a release that compiles all of their output onto two handy discs. In the meantime, here’s their song that was on …One Last Kiss. It was culled from their Harriet Records ep Moominland
I’ve written about the Box Elders before when they came through town. Their ramshackle sound seems to come from the same place that Crayon were coming from back in 1992. The Box Elders are a trio (another similarity with Crayon) and are fronted by brothers Clayton and Jeremiah McIntyre and more than ably backed up Dave Goldberg on drums, who by the way is a madman with sticks behind his kit. They have only one single out, with the promise of another one sometime this year. These guys have sound that nobody else even comes close to right now, it’s a little Jonathan Richman and a little of the Clean. Excellent stuff from this Omaha, Nebraska band. Let’s hope that they don’t get lost into obscurity like so many of the bands that appeared on …One Last Kiss!