21 Jun 2024
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Grawlixes - Album Review: Love You To Death

20 Jul 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

I have been reviewing music for more than 30 years and estimate I have written something like 2 million words on the subject, and I have often been asked the question, “Why?”. The simple reason is that if I didn’t do what I do then I would have missed out on so many amazing experiences, and when one is faced with a “new” band then one never knows what to expect. Prior to picking up this album and agreeing to see them play a gig (next month with Albi & The Wolves, it will be amazing), all I knew about them was that they played a form of folk. I put this on, and within 90 seconds of Honey Bees I was enthralled, and immediately felt that this was why I review, as every so often something comes through which is so very special indeed that it has a major impact on me. This is one of those albums, and from the very beginning I knew this was significant, and that feeling kept growing as the album kept playing.

There is a melancholy in their music with co-founders Robin Cederman (Tahu & The Takahes, The Prophet Hens) and Penelope Esplin (French for Rabbits, (Lake South}) taking turns to lead, providing harmonies for the other when the time is right. The result is an album which at times contains duets, and others either male or female lead, which may remind the listener of The Mutton Birds, Sandy Denny, Seventies Fleetwood Mac, Fairport Convention or Mumford & Sons, all in a melting pot. Penelope also provides accordion and Robin guitar, and on this their second album the band has expanded to include Alex Vaastra on violin (Julian Temple Band, Emily Fairlight), Emma Hattaway on bass (BoJack Funkman) and Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa on drums (Dawn Diver, Stellarize, French for Rabbits).

It is timeless, but certainly does not sound as if has been released in these days of auto tune and over production, as vocals shine through, and it is possible to follow the musical thread of each and every instrument. What also makes this album work so well is the contrast, so we go from the vibrant full-on energy of The Wrong Idea into the sleazy, sassy Country feel of Modern Boy with Elizabeth to the gentle picked folk of Get Cold Easily with Robin, which turns into something incredibly powerful. Bill Bruford famously received a writing credit for the King Crimson song Trio, where he decided his contribution was not to play at all, and the same can be said for the members of Grawlixes as each knows what they bring to the arrangements, and at times that really means not being involved and just adding in at the correct moment.

This is an album that needs to be played on headphones when the listener has the time to do just that and be whisked away in the world of Grawlixes. They are soon going to be undertaking a 12-date tour, which on the evidence of this is not to be missed, as this is something which will be enjoyed by lovers of folk, country, acoustic, singer/songwriter material. Simply essential.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Grawlixes

Grawlixes are an existential folk-pop band from Wellington, New Zealand, who will sear themselves in your brain with raw, wry and infectious songs about doomed relationships, not being invited to parties, and wanting to murder each other. Continuing the great lineage of artists who bring sadness to their sprightly melodies, Grawlixes’ music often deals in the melancholy with self-deprecating honesty and beautiful boy-girl harmonies, sung by co-founders Robin Cederman (Tahu & The Takahes, The Prophet Hens) and Penelope Esplin (French for Rabbits, Lake South).

Grawlixes signed to Home Alone records, following an extensive European tour supporting label-mates French for Rabbits. They released their debut album Set Free in July 2017 to critical acclaim, reaching #9 in the NZ Charts. They have since expanded into a 5 piece, featuring Alex Vaastra on violin (Julian Temple Band, Emily Fairlight), Emma Hattaway on bass (BoJack Funkman) and Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa on drums (Dawn Diver, Stellarize, French for Rabbits).

Grawlixes have opened for such bands as Steve Gunn (US), Nadia Reid, Ha the Unclear and Delaney Davidson, and international acts such as Blue Child Collective (Aus) and Ben Salter (Aus), and participated in the Auckland Folk Festival, Wellington Folk Festival, The Performance Arcade & CubaDupa.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Grawlixes

Releases

Love You To Death
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Set Free
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape

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