July 19-25, 2001

 --Donny Kutzbach

Maybe Cropduster got lucky last time. A few months back they got a sweet opening at the old Mohawk Place and enjoyed a warm, receptive crowd thanks to the throngs that showed up for gothic Americana faves the Willard Grant Conspiracy as well as the Mohawk regulars and local music geeks and freaks who appeared for the inaugural appearance of the mesmerizing Barrel Harbor.  Had Cropduster played any other bar on any other night, they might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

It also doesn’t hurt that Cropduster are a pretty darn good band.  The New Jersey quartet makes top-notch rock and roll built on punk spirit and with a tasty chicken-fried coating. It’s Old 97’s when they still made good records or Jay Farrar if he lost all the dourness. Farrar has said the goal of his first band, the alt. Country touchstone Uncle Tupelo, was to try to be Dinosaur Jr.

Cropduster may have figured out the formula he was after. Their sound has just enough twang evenly balanced with the hazy, fuzzy indie rock that Mascis and company did so well.

Cropduster’s last record, Drunk Uncle (We Put Out Records), kicks off with a raucous Replacements-style workout called “In Yr Ear,” then moves into the head-bobbing “Milkman.” “People Person” is a backbeat delight and “Nothin’s Gonna Change” pulls up the board to see what lies under the surface of its down-and-out protagonist.  “And Then There Was You” is one of those heartbreak songs you’re gonna want to play over and over, complete with a freakout solo at the end.

The band can deliver live, too.  It’s fun to watch guitarist/singers Tom Gerke and Marc Maurizi trade vocals as well as acoustics and electrics.  They are one of those great loose, rockin’ live acts that you just know plays better with a little bit of a beer buzz.  Cropduster are a bar band in the best kind of way.