The fame of a sibling can work for or against you. Robert Crenshaw, brother of pop cult hero Marshal Crenshaw, intends to make it work for him. As a longtime drummer live and in the studio for his brother, Robert has recently begun to release his own material. Victory Songs is his second release, the much anticipated follow-up to last year's critically-acclaimed Full Length Stereo Recordings. This time around, Crenshaw steps out from behind the drums, playing almost all the instruments and vocals. As with the previous album, Victory Songs is stocked full of catchy songs that take up residence in your skull. I often find myself with "Eatin' Crow and Drinkin' The Blues" rambling in my head with it's very un-blues guitar hooks and melancholy melody and can only have it removed by thinking of 70s TV theme songs. The title song begins with a pretty violin and piano intro before starting this relationship tale of overcoming time and staying together. "Flying Kites in the Lightening" mixes a calypso-type guitar with vocals that came straight out of George Harrison. Well, straight out through Robert Crenshaw, but they sound like George. Most of the songs have a very sixties meets late seventies power-pop feel, such as "It's Okay To Be Sad" with it's sweeping chorus harmonies. While most of the album is soft rock, "When I Get the Bomb" is straight rock with an arena-rousing chorus of unrequited love and a pop-enhanced verse melody. The album ends with another rocker, this time a cover of MC5's "Shakin' Street." His voice and penchant for sixties jangle can't help but make you think of his brothers work, but Robert has more than enough musical muscle of his own to appease the hunger of fans of well crafted pop.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, October 2000.