CRUMB

AMAMA
(Crumb Records)
Add date: 5.17.2024
Release date: 5.21.2024



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New York psych-pop band Crumb return with AMAMA, their most carefree and open-hearted album to date. A soundscape full of playful and patchwork experimentation — glitchy pitch-shifted vocals, cell phone recordings, nautical blips, sax mouthpiece solos, blasted drum samples, and piano strings dampened with Silly Putty — AMAMA continues to deepen the band’s hypnotic sound in a cohesive line back through 2021’s Ice Melt, 2019’s Jinx, and breakout EPs Locket and Crumb. Without a doubt, AMAMA is Crumb — singer and multi-instrumentalist Lila Ramani, keyboardist and saxophonist Bri Aronow, bassist Jesse Brotter, and drummer Jonathan Gilad — at their most animated.

Buoyed by Ramani’s songwriting, at turns poetically abstract and directly confessional, AMAMA culls the strange encounters from Crumb’s touring years, tracing the dizzying path of a group that’s been in movement for nearly a decade. “Crushxd” is an ecstatic requiem for a turtle flattened under the tires of a tour van; “(Alone in) Brussels” finds Ramani in forced isolation in a distant city. On “The Bug,” we’re at a pit stop in a seedy motel, where a critter’s bite leaves a nagging feeling: “It’s always on my mind / it’s just always on my mind,” Ramani repeats over a creeping groove as she wanders the place at night. On “Side by Side,” perhaps the most candid track on AMAMA, frenetic percussion and disorienting, layered synth envelop Ramani as she considers the personal sacrifices she’s made along the way.

Even as it explores transient stops and fraught encounters, AMAMA features some of Crumb’s most vulnerable, tender searches for organic connection. “Home is what I want and what I need,” Ramani sings on the clear-sighted opener, “From Outside a Window Sill”—which samples a police radio scan about a flock of geese crossing a bridge in Gowanus, Brooklyn, where Ramani grew up. The title track, “AMAMA,” is an upbeat and hopeful homage to Ramani’s grandmother, her namesake, who sings in Malayalam in the opening sample. The two voices, Lila’s and Leela’s, separated by language and place, intertwine as if on a spotty long-distance call in what is the most direct love song of Crumb’s repertoire. On the album’s closer, “XXX,” laden with distorted, industrial sounds, we finally find respite—a house shared between two lovers, a safe place. In the last moments, Ramani asks: “Isn’t this as good as it can get?”

AMAMA exists at the crossroads of psychedelia, pop, jazz, and rock, and cements Crumb as a band uniquely their own. Released independently on Crumb Records and produced alongside Johnscott Sanford and Jonathan Rado in Los Angeles, AMAMA is an incandescent statement about searching for solid ground, connection, and clarity in a life of nomadic upheaval.