The Great Crusades: Fiction to Shame

The Great Crusades
Fiction to Shame
(Glitterhouse)

This album will take you places … from a dark, dank basement bar in war torn Europe to the Jersey Shore to a porch swing somewhere in the bayou. And, what’s odd is it all makes sense. Fiction to Shame is the seventh full length album from The Great Crusades, a prolific band originally based in Champaign, Ill., who long ago relocated to Chicago. This is easily the most cohesive work the group has ever released and they’ve put out some great albums over the years.  Even to a new listener, it’s apparent that a lot of tlc went into the making of this record, which features expanded arrangements, unconventional instruments and instrumentations.

Fiction to Shame kicks off slow with “Sons and Daughters” and “Never Far Away From Home,” both of which (along with “Queen of the Second Line Dancers” which comes later in the album) offer a haunting take on what I can only describe as nouveau cabaret. You can almost see the smoke hanging low in the air as the air raid sirens sound outside. From there, you’re treated to rockers, Tarantino-esque lounge cuts and familiarities. “Magic Shoes” teases you with a little CCR-inspired bayou boogie before escorting you to a 1960s dance party. “Awkward” evokes both Bowie and The River-era Springsteen, to the delight of this listener. The most surprising track on the album is an even darker take on Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon.” It fits so well in the flow of this album and, as the midpoint track, is a nice, familiar landing place for the listener whose head is spinning from what they’ve already heard. It’s also a great launching point into what is a very strong second half.

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