24 May 2018

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Grawlixes - Album Review: Set Free

03 Aug 2017 // A review by Petros

I put things in boxes. We all do, deny it though you will; it is an artifact of the humanís quest for knowledge. As much as people hate labels, or at least being labelled, boxes help us understand the world around us.

That orange on the table is a fruit.

This cat on my lap is a domestic short haired.

My body is male and made of matter.

Obganiate is a verb.

That band released an album because they enjoy working together and some of their jams really worked.

This rapper uploaded their track because they think theyíre Tupac.

This bedroom musician has just discovered music, is pleased with themselves, and is sharing it with the world because everyone should be pleased with them too Ė and a bit of positive-reinforcement shouldnít be too much to ask, should it?

Iím usually quite adept and picking what the marketing team, or the band, are trying to say, where theyíre coming from and why. Usually. Sometimes it is not until after a review is long since completed. Going into reviews blind helps, so Iím not tainted by what the others hear, or what the band wants me to think Iím hearing.

Why then, if Iím such the closet serial organiser as I above lay claim, can I not place Grawlixes debut Set Free?

The songs are too well constructed to be the product of a jam session, the guitar lines too intricate, and it doesnít come across as the typical bedroom musician fair. The recording is too crisp, too professional, not the kind of quality you are going to hear coming from $20 microphones and an illegal download of Sonic Foundry Acid 4.0 on a fifth-hand Cash Converters guitar.

In a way their album, Set Free feels like releases from a handful of other bands Iíve heard, albeit without the production values. Two people with a one voice, a guitar they know how to play, and some spare time to feed off of each otherís energy. Sexual tension, broken hearts, feelings, words, and lies. But there is more to it here. Some kind of sarcasm or cynicism between the lines. Maybe itís that sense called realism, so often confused with being pessimistic.

Remember that low-key release from the Smashing Pumpkins American Gothic? The one that came out after they made their comeback with Zeitgeist before fading once again into obscurity. There are tinges of the older incarnation of Billy Corgan that appear on that album in the voice of the boy part of Grawlixes boy-girl duet. I hear it more in the boy-centric tracks than the girl, which the album rotates between. It served as a little piece of the familiar alternative-rock my life use to rotate around, in Set Freeís sea of obscure influences I will never know the names of. An anchor to keep me in the album. It may seem trivial to you, but this music is so far outside my world.

I mean, there are choruses with mouth music, hums and la la las, not words. Thatís something you donít see much of anymore and something missing from the music of these modern times. Nor do you see the soul and humanity present in Set Free. Not when youíre consumed by the soulless inhumanity of 80ís Gothic Rock.

Maybe itís the Millennial voice (if what we have here are Millennials), a thought based on the generalisation that Millennials are the group in this county I relate to the least. Songs with words I can quantify, but sentiments Iím too old to understand. Feelings I will never feel because I have never been a duo that play guitar and sing better than I do or because I havenít been young for years and my generation works in polar opposites.

Black and White, with no time for grey. Night and Day, with no time for Ughten. When we think about happy music, itís Techno, melancholy, I put on Funeral Death Metal. I donít always sing, but when I do, itís never in a Kiwi Accent.

What Grawlixes have captured here are the spaces between the feelings. Acoustic Indie-folk, I guess youíd call it.

After Iíve picked the why the band want me to listen, and the review is complete, the albums are put in to boxes and folders too. Some are for repeat listening, some that are just not for me, and thatís ok. Iím just not their target audience.

I set out thinking this album would be the latter, without even giving it a chance. A smart named band with music too smart for me. Meant for a different human in this different life and a different occupation. Itís nothing personal. Most of the time I choose living in my own misery over the chance of happiness.

But your music won, and now I want the world to hear you, Grawlixes. Because behind your melancholy, there is a sense or happiness. Or relief. Or closure. Or some unnamed feeling I live to push down deep.

Get out there. Keep going. Tour more, or sell-out (I know, a dirty word). Get your songs on TV ads. Become the new voice of butter, like Kingston became the new voice of KFC. Those melodious falderals show off your voices, and will get into our heads and our hearts. Bring back that feeling we had humming the tune to My Girl, slipped into our heads by the Anchor Family adverts of the 90s.  

Iíd say get your cinematic, emotion laden songs into movies, because your songs are too good to be hoarded in the minds of the Indie Kids alone. But by the same token, your music shouldn't be relegated to background noise. Part of my trouble was, I thought I could put your album on my iPod and cruise through a review on my daily walk from Brooklyn. But the full enjoyment of your music, not just of your vocal licks, needs attention, a dedicated listening session in a bean bag by a window, in a world where I have time to indulge is such pleasures. You don't get that jay-walking or avoiding bicycles. If it wasnít for this social anxiety Iíve often misinterpreted as misanthropy, Iíd love to come and see you live.

Keep away from music videos, unless itís a vanity project, where you take a camera to a beach yourself then spin around in circles until you canít focus the lens properly or hold it straight, and then, most importantly, only do it for yourselves Ė you came into the life of a musician knowing there is no money in it, and I donít know if youíve seen the mainstream music videos or heard the music behind them recently, but theyíre all *%#$. Flashy, showy, boasty, *%#$.

And Grawlixes arenít *%#$.

Other Reviews By Petros

Emily Fairlight - Album Review: Mother of Gloom
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Autumn at dusk. Sitting in a bay window, knees to chin, wrapped in sweatered arms.
Tempist Fujit - Single Review: Daynes Song
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'Tis a two-headed beast, Daynes Song, the new single from Northlandís Tempist Fujit. On one side itís jazzy funky 90's Rock riffs, bass licks, and song structure (with complimentary Santana-like solo), the other side modern Rap riffing.
Robby Thorne - Album Review: The White Thorn Track
13 Mar 2018 // by Petros
There is a time and place for genre pedantry. I get that categorising artists by genre is a way of qualifying if you will like music before trying it.
David Edwards - Album Review: Gleefully Unknown 1997 - 2005
25 Feb 2018 // by Petros
There is the weird and wonderful. And then there is the weird.
Will Saunders - Album Review: Covers Four
27 Jan 2018 // by Petros
Covers Four, formally and sub titled I Know That We Are Not New (a line taken from the contained cover of Cohenís Hey, Thatís No Way To Say Goodbye) is Will Saunders from The Lowest Fidelityís take on a collection of obscure tracks, which ironically were new to me. Itís the mode now to take on, often poorly, the latest hits of the Billboard charts, posting them to YouTube in the vain hope of riding off the coattails of the songís fame.
Album Review: The Lincoln Greene Project
16 Jan 2018 // by Petros
Jimmy Hazelwood, actor and purveyor of acoustic folk, has recently released a new record, but not as himself. This time Jimmy is stepped into the role of Lincoln Greene, bringing you the debut album from this pseudonym, the aptly title The Lincoln Greene Project.
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Where the hell did this come from? Or perhaps the more appropriate question is when?
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01 Dec 2017 // by Petros
While I admit I am usually somewhat resistant to exploring outside my chosen genre, though often reluctantly do so, I was surprised to find I had no issue getting into this album - once I finally convinced myself to start it. The Three Islands album Sunshine for the Soul are to Funk and Soul, what Jakob are to Rock.
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