Local rock band The Crags’ latest effort “Bent” finds the quartet continuing to flirt with the ideas and sounds that define a surf-rock band while blasting into the hard-to-define indie-rock territory. There’s heavy and rich textures found in the guitar playing of Tim Lillyquist, pieces of a musical puzzle that are The Crags. They’re a rock band that is as capable at playing original, hook-laden indie rock as they are covering The Sex Pistols or, with this release, writing and performing psychedelic-rock-influenced tunes that dabble ever so delicate in the sounds of surf-noir and spaghetti westerns.
“Bent” is out now, and the Crags, who, in addition to Lillyquist, are Tracy Ford on guitar/vocals, husband John Ford on drums/vocals, and Dan Leak on bass, will celebrate the album release with a show Saturday night at The Balcony Backstage, performing between solo opener Taylor Green and local ska band Busters Ghost.
“We tried to go for a little bit of a psych rock thing. There are a couple ‘surfish’ songs – a lot of surf guitar – but we also tried to do some psychedelic-rock,” said Tracy Ford. “I got into (listening to) that genre and it really kind of took me away, and then when playing, it takes me away on any other form of music I’ve played. I can get into it a little bit more. I’m really enjoying it.”
“Bent” is a slower album that finds the band stretching out and taking their time, reveling in a comfort and confidence in songwriting and performance. Not a lot of bands will drop a seven-minute song as the opening cut on an album, but “This One’s for You” works for a band that’s oblivious to any ridiculous conventions. It’s an album of mature songwriting and mature playing, as all the songs could stand on their own as three-minute blasts, but each open to reveal musical depth. It’s Tracy Ford’s favorite of the band’s three releases.
“I think we are a much more cohesive unit now,” said Ford. “Dan had just joined the band on the first album. Tim had just joined the band on the second album. This is sort of a result of several years of playing together and creating together.”
Durango is a perfect place for a band like The Crags. It’s a community chock-full of old Deadheads and aging punk rockers, loaded with people who haven’t let age define what they listen to. People here – musicians and music fans alike – still approach finding, buying and listening to music with the enthusiasm of teenagers. Music for a lot of people, player or collector, is by honest admission a hobby whether you’re collecting or writing, recording and playing local shows. In eight years and three albums, with probably another album’s worth of songs that have dropped by the wayside, The Crags are loved locally and operating in the black for what remains a hobby. That’s really quite alright; they’re on their own pace to make albums when they want, which may be the secret to consistently putting out quality music.
“We don’t use our own money, we let this thing fund itself,” said Ford. “That’s one reason we go so long between records: we play a few shows, put the money in the band fund, and when we have enough money, we make a record. So it takes a little longer. The bummer is some songs will fall away during that period, but that’s OK. We call it a hobby that pays for itself.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. firstname.lastname@example.org.