There was once a band named Curbside Service. They put out a record called I Packed My Bags a Year in Advance with a few great songs on it (notably the title track) which I stumbled upon one day whilst poking about the Internet. One day they emailed their mailing list announcing a name change and a move from Alabama to California. I've had my eye on The Snake The Cross The Crown ever since.
The band's first EP, Like a Moth Before a Flame, got them signed to Equal Vision Records with a decidedly emo sound. It was the logical progression from the band's Curbside Service days, and if you're into that kind of thing (as I definitely was and still sometimes am) you'd probably like it. TSTCTC's first full-length was called Mander Salis, and it just felt uneven; it showcased a band with serious chops but an even more serious identity crisis. Did they want to be folk rock, emo, psychedelic? All of the above?
I wasn't surprised when the band announced a hiatus after a shortened tour supporting Mander Salis. The record telegraphed individual differences between the members. I expected it to turn into a permanent breakup, and I prematurely mourned the loss of a potentially great band.
I was wrong. The Snake The Cross The Crown are back (sorta) with the decidedly folky Cotton Teeth, and they've been slowly putting themselves back out there (minus bass player Carl Marshall, probably the emo guy) in recent months. Back in March I went to see a performance at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn that had been billed as a performance by the full band, but which ended up being a short set by singer Kevin Jones, who occasionally summoned keyboardist William Sammons and drummer Mark Fate to the stage to help him with songs (pictured above). William's brother Franklin was nowhere to be seen. It was at the same time extremely cool (it kinda felt like a booze-fueled singalong in a college dorm room) and disappointing.
**Update: One of the other 15 or so people at that show took a bit of grainy video. The sound quality is pretty ok. Check it out:
Truthfully, I'm ambivalent about the band's most recent work. Some of their stuff is Great with a capital G, and some of it is...ok. It's the name thing, really. How many folky sounding names can you squeeze into a song? You'd still sound folky without all the names, guys. Not every song needs to mention a Jack or a Jim or a Sue or a Margaret.
Regardless, the band recently did a session for the legendary Daytrotter that's worth checking out. One note: although the Daytrotter site says all the songs are from Cotton Teeth, "A Brief Intermission" is in fact found on Mander Salis.