It has been 20 years since Milwaukee has had anything to shout about as far as offerings anything to the national music landscape. The Promise Ring? Broke up. The Violent Femmes’ reunion tour is but a distant memory now. And the Gufs? Please. As a resident of this town I can say with some authority that good music exists, but nothing that really has the potential to take over the world. Out of these semi-desperate shadows comes Crime and Judy with a big sexy yell and plenty of violins. Their five-song Vendetta Chants EP captures the excitement of their live shows (something that has been thrilling Milwaukee audiences for a couple of years now) and beyond. Imagine Cursive with three girl singers and a violinist rather than a cellist. Imagine the Yeah Yeah Yeahs minus too much beer.
The fact that it was recorded live at the Miramar Theatre both lends to the band’s strengths and detracts from the sonic quality. The vocals could have benefited from a bit of tweaking, and you can occasionally hear distorted murmurings and applause in the background, but overall the fidelity is nearly studio-quality.
The two standout tracks are “Kill Me Goodnight” and “Lose Your Allusion.” The former, a down-tempo meditation on the perils of the morning after, showcases crunchy guitars and the call-and-response vocals that the two singers are (locally) famous for. The latter is more insistent in both tempo and tone, with its repeated insisting both to “go, go, go, run” and “listen, relax, just be polite now.” It also contains the moment—scratch that—the Moment. You know, the one that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you come across it and you yell out loud “That’s IT!” Here, it comes at the end of the song—the vocals are building and playing off one another and then out of the background comes one lovely, tense extended guitar note—and then it all ends abruptly. The listener is left wanting more, which, for a band with so much potential and such poise, is a very, very good thing indeed.
MP3s available on Crime and Judy’s site.