Crest Skeptik

Madison, Wisconsin’s the Crest have chosen to give their non-regional debut disc a loose conceptual theme that encourages the listener to question the Big Three: big business, government propaganda and mass media. Skeptik is built around the title track, a mid-tempo combination of droning cello with violin, flute and guitar that finishes off as drum & bass. Mistrust of the government also figures in the smoother anti-War on Iraq track "Kill 'Em," and "Independent" is rough, banging, and an occasional freak-out declaring the Crest’s mistrust of major labels. "Skeptik" also starts with a conspiracy sample and follows up with another about halfway through the song. Similar samples and interviews occur throughout the album as intro, outro and interludes. They help hold the album together thematically but they also break up the flow of the music and slow down an otherwise great album; "Beatmaking 101" also contributes to this problem. Battle-hardened rapper-brothers Jack Cracker and AD also rap about relationships — both serious ("No More Lady") and funny ("Cruzin' Chubby's") — their love of the elements ("Back to the Basics") and just basic mic rippin' ("L'Ascorbic Acid" featuring Eyedea and Carnage). The Crest are rounded out by DJ Skrabble, with cuts all over the album, and producer Jason Blair, who supplies a mix of familiar sample and live instrumentation for the politics and party rockin'. The result is a versatile introductory CD that shouldn't be ignored. (Uprising)