Crush 40: Rise Again
Crush 40: Rise Again
July 4, 2012 (Digital Edition); August 1, 2012 (CD Edition)
Buy at Amazon | Download at iTunes
It’s been about 15 years since the collaboration between Jun Senoue, one of the head sound designers at Sega, and Johnny Gioeli, singer of the American hard rock band Hardline, began. Since then these two talents have collided and made Crush 40, a band responsible for most of the iconic vocal songs from the Sonic series. Starting in 2009, the band has been breaking into a more mainstream rock area, branching off from solely producing music for Sonic games, and into regular songs that Jun composes and Johnny pens.
Last year, most of their discography was actually made available on iTunes. The band has now done two live shows in Tokyo, and participated in both the Summer of Sonic event in the UK and Sonic Boom in the US. Now in 2012, Crush 40 has come back to release a small 4 track EP entitled “Rise Again”, once again straying away from Sonic the Hedgehog for the time being. The fact is, Crush 40 has a very specific, rock style, and thankfully it works with or without it being related to Sonic.
That being said, the first track on the EP, “Sonic Youth” is partially about Sonic, but more than anything, it’s a fantastic nod to all the fans who have supported Crush 40 throughout the years, and can actually be seen as an anthem for the fans as well. The lyrics for the main verses, while a bit cheesy, are actually composed of the names of the main Sonic themes and different songs that Crush 40 has made throughout the years, cleverly intertwining some of the best that the band has done in one single package. Jun Senoue’s guitar work is just as strong here as it’s ever been, and Johnny Gioeli’s vocals are also just as strong, leading to a very enjoyable song that’s sure to please any Crush 40 fan (colloquially nicknamed “Crushers” by Johnny himself).
Moving on, next we have “One of Those Days,” which features a slower pace, and overall a dirtier, edgier sounding guitar work. However, it’s Johnny’s vocals that are the true standout from this song, being much more focused here, and yet shifting up and down his range single handedly. Although the song is catchy, Jun’s guitar work isn’t quite as strong here, and works more in the background compared to Johnny’s vocals, although he gives us a pretty great guitar solo, which is pretty much to be expected in Crush 40 songs. The lyrics have a bit of a romantic feel, though speaking somewhat negatively, the song powers through with a positive attitude, despite its admittedly still cheesy lyrics.
Despite this, there is an absolutely sincere quality to Crush 40’s songs, as they hit highs and lows in their hard rock style, speaking often about never giving up or pushing straight on through with life. Which is why the next song, “Song of Hope” turns out to be so powerful, and somewhat of the main highlight of the EP. Released on iTunes as a charity single, the song was meant to collect donations to help out people who were effected during the tsunami that devastated Japan earlier last year, and thus its particularly moving to have this band perform specifically for a cause. With a particularly strong drum beat, Jun belting out on a strongly focused guitar, and Johnny singing such motivating lyrics (“Sing for hope/Sing for dreams/Stand together that’s what it means/Sing for love/It’s all I can do/This is a Song of Hope for You”), it’s easy to see why Crush 40 has gathered such a relatively large number of fans, for a relatively small band. It’s their sincere passion that makes them such a great band, and makes “Song of Hope” such a fantastic ballad to add to their musical history. However, that being said, “Song of Hope” is in no way exclusive to this EP, as it’s already been released as a single on iTunes, and on the US iTunes version of the Best of Crush 40 -Super Sonic Songs-.
In the last and titular song of this EP, “Rise Again,” Crush 40 once again returns to their faster paced, positive-infused lyrics that makes them, well, Crush 40. The song is completely appropriate as the closer, though not as fast paced as “Sonic Youth”, or as moving as “Song of Hope,” the song finds its place somewhere in the middle, and it ultimately works for it. With a stronger guitar performance and solo from Jun, and Johnny’s fantastic vocals, the EP closes up, leading me and other “Crushers” heavily excited to see and hear where Crush 40 will go on from here.
Now, before I finish up this review I really need to address one serious issue with the release of this EP: there’s been multiple releases of all these songs. All four songs were released separately on iTunes, leading to about a $4 price tag if people wish to purchase it. However, the songs weren’t released together cohesively, at least not on iTunes. There were two physical releases of the EP, with major differences in both. First, at the special Sonic events in London and San Diego (Summer of Sonic and Sonic Boom respectively) Crush 40 performed live and sold their EPs. This version was a simple cardboard slip that contained a picture of Jun and Johnny posing on the front with the lyrics on the back (interestingly the label was only entitled as Crush 40). This version of the EP, which was sold for about $10, did not contain “Song of Hope,” and instead came with a small poster that many used to get signatures from the band. These copies may still be floating around on auction sites, however if you’re looking for a full version of the EP, which contains a jewel case with a slip containing the lyrics, along with acknowledgements from the band, you’re going to have to search up the Wavemaster edition of the EP, which was released on August 1st. As of writing, I haven’t been able to locate any copies still, so for people wanting to check out the EP, iTunes is the cheapest place you’ll find these great songs.
Aside from this presentational issue, Crush 40 definitely delivers on the goods. It’s great to hear such sincerity coming from this band, and for them to be actively acknowledging their fans. The songs are great, and the iTunes release definitely warrants a purchase. Also, a special thank you goes to the drummer and bassist of Crush 40, Toru Kawamura and Takeshi Taneda respectively, who do a great job, despite not getting enough attention due to the way Crush 40 markets themselves. Either way, I can’t wait to hear more out of them. Thankfully, Crush 40 will be releasing an album based off their Live Tokyo performance, so be sure to check that out as well.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Julius Acero. Last modified on August 1, 2012.