Claw Toe – 12″ EP
Criminal IQ Records
Claw Toe is a band from the Chicago area that is led by Criminal IQ head honcho, Darius Hurley. Darius sings and plays guitar and the rest of the band is comprised of musicians from other Chicago area bands. They’ve been playing shows around the city for a while now and previously released a 7″. This is their second release, a six song 12″ vinyl EP.
Claw Toe blends early 1980’s post-punk with a little more modern indie rock and a hint of industrial music (in their use of effects more than their use of machines). The songs are mostly mid-tempo and plodding and feature a mix of crunchy and angular guitars which blend together for a nice, thick sound. The vocals have a bit of underwater distortion effect added to them which makes for a nice touch and seem to fit the British accent of their delivery well. The bass has a nice thick sound to it as well. Of the six songs (five originals and one Functional Blackouts cover which seems like a waste of space as that space would be better served with another original), each is experimental enough to not pigeon-hole their sound into one mold and that experimentation keeps the EP interesting from start to finish. These guys have found a cool sound and hopefully they take what they’ve done here (sans the need to do covers of modern bands that few people have probably heard of) and run with it. They put together a really good EP with this release.
The record comes on black vinyl with black and white labels. The cover it is housed in is a cheap, DIY affair that is nothing more than a plain white jacket with photocopied paper glued to the front and back. It is like the vinyl equivalent of a demo tape with homemade packaging. While I guess you can admire the DIY, low-budget aspect of the packaging, the record itself deserves better as there are quality tunes inside that cheap packaging and it may go overlooked for the more superficial record buyer flipping through records in a bin looking for something that grabs his/her attention. Cheap packaging aside, this Claw Toe EP is well worth checking out and hopefully the band sticks with it and puts more records in the future.