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Forget the name and find the
first great album of the year

Tonight the City (Declassified)


They say never to judge a book by its cover, and the same
should probably apply to buying a band for its name. It’s a
sad fact, though, that certain band names lend themselves
to genres of music. For example, when guarding myself
against that vile sub-class known as nü-metal, I watch for
drugged out, attention grabbing, “hardcore” titles. Default.
Adema. Korn. Cracktorch.
So when I first grabbed a copy of Tonight The City off the listening rack at Newbury Comics, I expected another
knock-off affair – something more akin to Nickleback than, say, Misfits. But after hearing the first track I couldn’t
take the head phones off. As shocked as I am to say it, this is probably the best rock album I’ve heard this year –
and it’s just their sophomore work. What’s even more shocking is that these guys haven’t been scooped up by a
bigger label than Declassified, considering they clearly have international appeal.

Throughout the entire album, the closest thing to a ballad is “Lil Baby” which clocks in at just over three minutes
and opens with a classic rock drum solo and a blues inspired guitar rift. My personal standout is track four, “The
Bronx,” the required tribute to messed-up mating rituals that every band has to play, but few handle the right way.
As singer Marc Schleicher announces “You missed out honey on the one good thing that you’ll never have/Bet
you’d like me if I didn’t care because that’s the kind of girl you are,” you have to suspend your disbelief and
realize that this is a rock band with good lyrics.

Instead of even toying with sappiness on this piece, the band just gets angry and takes it out in noise –
incredibly well-orchestrated, perfectly trained noise. This is a band with the speed and energy of punk rock but
too much training to be labeled as such. Other than the occasional need to shout out “holy shit, these guys are
fucking awesome,” it’s hard to find any words to say over the music. Truthfully, if you’re playing it right, it should
be too loud for conversation.

Luckily, Cracktorch hasn’t been slipping under everyone’s radar, having already played with the likes of The
Spaceshots, The Charms, Scissorfight, Queens of the Stoneage, Murder City Devils and Mission of Burma. So
despite their unfortunate name, I can only hope that Cracktorch means what they say in “Monkey” – “I followed
your moves and I’ve stolen your action/Last word I’ll say, I’m finishing this business and I’m gonna stay.”

Despite their obvious musical merit, I also have to make a note that the packaging of this album is cool enough
to buy it no matter what. The clear CD and artfully designed booklet will entertain you for hours – at least if you’re
as easily amused as I am.

You can find out more about Cracktorch at