Kill Creek

The Will to Strike

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This double-disc collection is a very solid body of work from a jagged and haggard pop/rock four-four time lineage that groups like Mission of Burma and the Replacements (circa Tim) would seek solace in, especially on tracks like "Biggest Rift," the brilliant "Todd Newman," and "Punishment." The tandem of singer Scott Born and guitarist Ron Hayes gets the ball rolling on the catchy "Unsteady," a mid-tempo roots rocker which opens up wonderfully and sets the tone for the next hour-and-20-minutes of music. The hint of twang on "All Ears" keeps the momentum going as the band are intent on taking the song where it needs to go: towards a collage of sweet melody and solid guitar work that is almost too easy to immerse oneself in. At times, they toe the line between aggressive punk and rock, as on "Binky" and "Louisiana Man," but they are amply capable of reining the tune back in. Will to Strike is basically one three-minute rock gem after another, especially on the lovable "Dirty Hands," which brings to mind the Gin Blossoms or the BoDeans if they had more of an edge. The country waltz running through "The Role Model" eerily resembles Jeff Tweedy -- almost to a fault. One nugget is the country-tinged "Lullaby," which definitely lives up to its moniker. The middle portion of the first disc is less brawn and has more of a '60s aura during the slow building of "Falsified." Kill Creek offer up somber, reflective ditties, as well as the hushed "Promise to Fail." This is the polar opposite of the ensuing "The Flood V.1," that has huge yet intricate arena rock riffs à la Oasis or My Morning Jacket. Disc two offers more of the same, although there is more urgency on "Cosmetic Surgery," which resembles early Jimmy Eat World. What is more remarkable, though, is the band's ability to sound ragged and garage-like on every tune, while remaining quite polished-sounding at the same time, particularly on the ideal "Busted," the winding "Stretch," and the rambunctious "Hang 'I'm High." Kill Creek really spread themselves out on "Seven-Eleven," which sounds like a cross between the Cure and Green Day. With help from Ed Rose, the band nails "Fruit Pie" with joyful yet reckless abandon. Later tracks, like the bland "Wuss Kliph," seem a rare exception to an otherwise very satisfying rule. The format and blueprint are similar, but the tune just doesn't fit , especially when one notes the precision the group brings to the majority of the other tunes. This precision is especially refreshing on the lengthy "Beginning." Will to Strike is possibly the band's landmark album, despite being culled from the years 1989 to 1999

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