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Eppinette: “We like to think of ourselves as a rock group, so it gives us a chance to change up our sound for the next album.” Photo by Keaton Cushion

Mixing psych-rock with post-punk, the Cosmic Creeps are just looking to play some shows and grow as a band –– while also growing a label.

Into the somewhat vacant streets of Fort Worth comes Crawl, the Creeps’ second recording. Their first, the autumn 2019 EP Green Dragon/Red Dragon, was also released by Magic Maze Records, the label run by the Creeps and some fellow local musicians and featuring them and some friends. With Crawl, the Creeps establish a newly polished and more technical style, reminding listeners how great psych-rock mixed with post-punk can be.

Recorded in August 2019 by producer Jeff Mount at his Session Works Studios (Twisted Black, Jefferson Colby, Mother Freud) in Hurst, Crawl is eight solid tracks of reverberating guitar, complex instrumentals, and dooming vocals. The album opens with a moment of silence before exploding into “Sleestack,” a fury of riffs and altered breakdowns. The voiceless and rhythmically barraged completion of “Crimson Desert” caps the album’s 37 minutes. Singer/guitarist Michael Eppinette said Crawl is meant to be categorized simply as “rock,” though he agrees there are some psych-rock elements throughout.

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“We like to think of ourselves as a rock group, so it gives us a chance to change up our sound for the next album,” Eppinette said. “In every song, we like to tell a story.”

Several tracks, especially “Beyond the Pond,” express existential ideas of escape and release, keeping the listener somewhat pondering. “I am just a frog / Sitting on a log / Staring at the pond / Pondering beyond / Beyond the pond.”

Eppinette’s vocals and lyrics give imaginative life to several characters in a far-off world. “As I hop along / The wizards meet at dawn / One flash of the wand / Pondering beyond.”

The title track is the longest on the album at more than eight minutes. It compares controversial themes to night-crawling creatures and a universe in despair.

Eppinette said placing different musical parts and pieces together while agreeing on certain ideas for songs is basically what happens in the group’s jam space. After taking their time to piece together the right parts just so, the album came together nicely.

The Cosmic Creeps

Though a few tracks are purely instrumental, the stated themes are certainly strange and out of the ordinary. Whether in a cosmic universe beyond our time or in a peaceful environment, a serenade of fuzzed-out guitar, trippy bass, and heavy kick drums, the Cosmic Creeps will take you out there. With ideas of escaping on a red dragon, taking flight into an unknown, instrumentally influenced cosmic and chaotic realm, Eppinette perfectly manifests the far-out lyrics through his monotone voice.

The Cosmic Creeps are a young band, and while they’ve played some respectable venues (Lola’s Saloon, MASS, J&J’s Pizza on the Square, The Grackle Art Gallery), they haven’t really been packing them in. But that’s OK.

The label has held steady momentum, Eppinette said, with a list of friends and artists taking part in the work involved. While the label seems to fit more of a rock-band element, Eppinette said bands in other genres, including jazz, have made their way onto Magic Maze Records, which has more than increased in size since it originated two years ago. While also working as a booking agency for local and touring groups, Eppinette said, “The label was primarily started as a collective for a few local musicians and songwriters to work together and play local venues.”

The Cosmic Creeps’ discography can be found on their Bandcamp page along with their merchandise.

Until further notice, the Creeps’ next show is May 15 at MASS.

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