Everything Crash

by X-tal

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The third X-tal album, released on the Alias label in 1992. Includes the classic songs "Black Russian", "Census", and "Long Dark Night".

CMJ REVIEW: When S.F. rock-crit-cum-musician J Neo name-drops both Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky in the first couplet of the album, we are reassured that this is the same old X-tal, embroidering a pan-folkie instrumental melting pot with lyrical intentions that are sometimes too smart and aware for their own good. Neo’s fearless examinations can lambaste the sort of desperate cries for attention in the name of art and nonconformity which abound in cities like San Francisco (“Easily Impressed,” “Que Lastima”), while edging perilously close to self-pitying superiority himself. Neo, however, seems to realize that writing about the bourgeoisie and El Salvador doesn’t make him a saint among men, and his constant looks over his shoulder, trying to catch himself in the web of hypocrisy as well, are part of what makes this record fascinating. X-tal’s musical melange—dolloping lap steel guitars, melodica, violins and other strummy elements atop the usual righteously electric instruments—finds a harmony and common attitude that it lacked on their first record, making melodious good sense (“Black Russian,” “Passing”) besides showing good intentions. When faced with a band that follows a cover of Crucifix’s “Stop The Torture” with one from Richard Thompson, deciding whether the band’s heartfelt, riled-up ambitions are quixotic or just pretentious is almost beside the point-the sheer chutzpah of Everything Crash keeps X-tal afloat. – Deborah Orr: CMJ New Music Report Issue: 282 – May 01, 1992


released March 1, 1992

Produced by Norm Kerner and X-tal
Recorded at Brilliant Studios, 1991
© 1992 Undulant Rhetoric (BMI) except where noted

J NEO MARVIN: Vocals, guitars, keyboards, melodica, tin whistle, khaen
MICK FREEMAN: Vocals, drums
JIMMY BROUSTIS: Vocals, guitars, lap steel

Carrie Bradley: Violin and toy xylophone
Jonathan Levy: Trumpet (Pacemaker)
Leslie Sullenger: Vocals (Pacemaker)

Cover photo: Rebecca Gleason



all rights reserved


X-tal San Francisco, California

Here, for the first time, the entire recorded output of X-tal in one place.

X-tal (1983-1996) were a San Francisco post-punk band fronted by J Neo Marvin. Greil Marcus of the Village Voice described them as a “small-time San Francisco combo that wears their defeated leftist politics on their sleeves and can open for the Mekons without letting you forget them when the headliners come on.” ... more

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Track Name: Black Russian
You and we, we go together like Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky.*
We can talk about our endless pain and the failure of our ideology.
Spill your guts all over a canvas and from my exile I’ll fire off another tract.
We walk a thin line between faith and fate, but right now I’d rather not talk about that, so…

Pour me another black Russian and put off the serious part of the discussion.
It’s my downfall. It’s my poison. It’s my platform, my position.
Think twice before you follow; your chemistry may not be the same.
Pour me another black Russian till I’m blurred and sharpened all the same.

I don’t think I’m fundamentally evil, but I can be blinded by frustration.
I blame no one but myself for the times I’ve fallen into stupid situations.
In some anonymous east coast bar, some anonymous band is playing.
I knock back more toxic waste, trying to blot out the question in my mind:
Is it really over this time?

We had it out on River Road. How ugly can two lovers get?
The Sonoma County deputy sheriffs were this close to locking us both away.
Well, I’ve got a lot to regret and I’ve got a lot to live down
But one day I want to go back and make love to you in that same town.

Pour me another black Russian and put off the serious part of the discussion.
It’s my downfall. It’s my poison. It’s my platform, my position.
Think twice before you follow
Down the rabbit hole things get strange.
Pour me another Black Russian and let’s get real, real gone for a change.

*or “Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir” when performed in France.
Track Name: Easily Impressed
You don’t know just how old hat you are
Rattling on about handguns and ritual scars
Center of attention, the in crowd’s special guest
So many people are so easily impressed.

Shock the bourgeoisie and sell them back their dread
Got a name in ’77, you’ll milk it till you’re dead
A few half-baked ideas sold as the perfect pose
We’d all look cooler in the emperor’s new clothes.

Once your words had such a subversive ring
Now it’s the same old decadent shit and it doesn’t mean a thing
Bored of all the things with which you are obsessed
I’m not so easily impressed.
Track Name: Utah
You won, you had me metal tied
I've had nightmares all my life
Local Utah scam, Bill Of Rights is dead
Pig laughed, clicked me metal tied

An ex post facto felony charge
Who in the hell do you think you are?
We're talking about pot pipes
Not rape or swinging knives
Pig laughed, clicked Leslie metal tied

And I see through your lies
Swastikas behind your eyes
As American kids in freedom we went
But now, freedom's redefined...
Track Name: Qué Lástima
No one understands the depth within your heart and mind
No one understands the pain that you go through
No one else’s problems exist for you
Or at least they can’t compare with yours
No one else could know what’s true

No one else could open up the box that you confine yourself in
Or unravel the web of reasons for your sad predicament
No one stands up to examination
Only what you see is real
No one else could ever comprehend the loneliness you feel

Oh you suffer, you suffer, you suffer
Yeah that’s all you ever say
Rant about it, moan about it
Till you drive your friends away
You’re so alone and other people are
So cruel and so insensitive
They try so hard, but they fail
To live up to the standards imposed by you.
Track Name: Fatal Distractions
I ran into Miguel
At the laundromat one day
He was saying it’s a funny thing
How other people perceive your problems
You can be on a collision course
And everyone will think you’re doing just great
Turn around and try to heal yourself
They’re all so shocked to see the poison come out

I’ve seen that one before
I wanted more and more
I fell into the well
I laughed and said what the hell

I’ve tried honesty
And I’ve tried dishonesty
Weighing out the alternatives
All in all I like honesty better
It’s a horrifying thing
Retracing each rationalization
Little by little, day by day
Watching all my ethics slip away

I’ve done that one before
I wanted more and more
I shrugged and said what the hell
Fell deeper into the well

A sweet haze going straight to the heart
A warm blanket of blessed relief
“Hey I work my ass off for a living
When I come home I deserve a good time”
But it’s funny how things progress
And the good times just get boring
Pretty soon you’re just avoiding the pain
Everybody else takes for granted.

I’ve seen that one before
I needed more and more
I rang the pleasure bell
Endlessly climbing out of Hell

Don’t talk to me about the 12 steps
I can walk by myself, thank you very much
And I know just where I’m walking
I’m walking right out of here
I don’t want to have to think about scoring
And have to think about it again the next day
I’m still paying off the last joyride
I don’t care to jump on again.

I’ve seen that one before
I wanted more and more
I rang the pleasure bell
Endlessly climbing out of Hell
I’ve done that one before
I needed more and more
I fell into the well…
Track Name: Census
I’ve seen the best minds of my generation
Scrap their hopes and lower their expectations
Split up into petty warring factions
Embrace depression and line up for their rations

A plundered world and a mortgaged future
A hard boiled dystopian adventure
Flotsam and jetsam sold down the river
Human wreckage in the great western sewer

I want to see the mighty fall
Fall so far and fall so hard
And when they finally land
I want it to hurt real bad

I’ve seen the best minds of my generation
Write off years of their lives and their late inspirations
Throw it all in the trash, both the real and the fake
And make like the whole thing was a silly mistake.

I’ve seen the best minds of my generation
Lounging on the laurels of their glorious youth
No one could ever be as cool as they were then
They did it all, they did it better, there’s nothing left for you.

I’ve seen the best minds of my generation
Lose their dreams and forget the things that matter
Get sidetracked by the usual temptations
Sell their souls and watch their own wills shatter

I’ve seen the best minds of my generation
Slip and fall and get crushed by despair
Bounce back and forth between denial and panic
Don’t know where to go, so they go nowhere.

I want to see the mighty fall
Fall so far and fall so hard
And when they finally land
I want it to hurt real bad.

And our small lives come and our small lives go
We’re little more than insects to the important people
The overfed apes cavorting on the big stage
Spewing sanctimonious lines about good and evil
And they make their big mess and gallop off into the sunset
While middle management hands out the brooms and mops
And the prisoners work off their long probation
The show goes on and the show must stop.
Track Name: Help Wanted, Part 2
It's a matter of confused irrelevance
In your relationship with yourself
Do you find the door to the garden open and waiting
Or are your books deeply buried on your shelf?
With the grace of a foreign diplomat
You succumb to the decisions at hand
And you mind ticks away most ungraciously
Sometimes your greatest enemy's your friend

Mary and Martin always had a cure
For your average daily blues
Up at five before the sun
In bed at ten before the news
"Mondays through Saturdays ain't much," they say
"There's still one day left to booze
Besides what the hell would we do with ourselves?
There's no time left to lose."
Track Name: Pacemaker
Oh, to pace back and forth
Find a comfortable place
But the cells ain't crackin' at their seams
No sea of tranquility
Sprouting from the desert, locking us up
Prisons for private profit goals
Nightmares relieve the hell
Of life in this 8 x 10 foot hole

Seen a hundred thousand morning smiles
Traveled more and more of those morning miles
Seen my eyes run their rainy course
Heard my ears tell me it just gets worse
Be careful of their eyes
As you look under their skin

Fell asleep to the sound of gulls
Making a nest where their young, their young could grow
Saw a thousand ways to spend the night
Thousands of little wounds to slow them in their might
Be careful of that might
As you tear off their skin

Oh to glide back and forth
Up where mountains pierce the sky
On a curvy swervy road through capitalism
Lies a place where justice gathers
And screams out free.
Track Name: Passing
I know enough about the Sun Dance
To appreciate what it means
But I’m sorry to say you couldn’t pay me enough
To get me up on one of those things
I’m divorced by force from a heritage
I know virtually nothing about
By choice from another in mutual disdain
Can’t fit in, can’t do without

New Mexico, late 19th century
A woman counts her options to herself
Cling to a culture conquered and crushed
Or pretend to be somebody else
Live the life of a midwestern wife
Matriarch to a Methodist flock
Pushing out children, some die at birth
Hides her history under a rock

Driving through the desert in a red and white Dodge
Past barren farms and boarded up towns
Wondering where all my cousins are.

It seems I wound up with all the recessive genes
A race waits inside of me alive
Any random stranger can spot it right off
But I can’t even tell them my tribe
Alienation, tradition means nothing
America, this is your life
My family history shrouded in mystery
A century passing for white.
Track Name: Long Dark Night
Watch out where you park your Beemer
Going to the victory parade.
The chickens are coming home to roost on your hood now.
You’ve got a long dark night to face.

The big man’s getting all excited.
He thinks he’s found the cure for our malaise.
10,000 points of impending darkness
(Stumbling down the middle of the road to nowhere)
He’s got a long dark night to face.

People are desperate and uncertain.
Blind loyalty keeps them entertained.
They can’t fool themselves for too long.
They’ve got a long dark night to face.

Why we gotta always talk like that?
Don’t we ever run out of things to hate?
Self-absorbed and bitter, how much longer?
We’ve got a long dark night to face.
We’re running out of time to waste.
It’s going to blow up in our face.
We’ve got a long dark night to face.
Things get worse before they get better.
We’d better face this night together.