Nana Grizol

By Devon Hannan, Features Editor

I’ve never really been the kind of person to go out and search for music on the internet. The deepest I typically go is my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. I never rake through bands on Bandcamp or lurk between the crevices of technology to find my new muse.

However, luckily for me, there are always plenty of musically superior individuals who constantly invalidate my music taste and play something I’ve never hear of before. I’ve had a lot of, “Oh this is alright, but have you listened to THIS?”

Nine times out of ten I have not, but you know what else is nine times out of ten? The ratio of bands they force me to listen to that I just don’t particularly like. But every once in a while there’s one or two gems that by the end of the song I nonchalantly ask, “Okay, who were they again?”

To which on one occasion they responded, “Nana Grizol.”

I vividly remember when I first listened to this band. I’m not sure if it was the environment or the emotional state of being, but Nana Grizol clung to me harder than anything before. I was driving home in a steady rain when I was stopped at railroad tracks. My phone screen lit up with a link to the song, “Cynicism.” I had never experienced such an immediate love for a band, and I haven’t ever since.

The song started out with a twinkly, hollowed out guitar – something that I am always down for. Quickly thereafter, nasal vocals stretched out over the simple guitar pattern – something that I am almost never down for, however the lyrics in this tune made me ignore it. The song was very short, running just over the two-minute mark and after about two thirds was over, a robust trumpet blares out of my speakers. In just those two minutes, the track hits upon everything that is truly important in your average life: friends and love, doubt and the universe, songwriting and coming to terms with the unknown. I was sold.

Even though this is a band I’ve been crying over for quite some time, I never dove head first into their full discography until very recently. Nana Grizol calls themselves an indie folk band. However, they bleed into other alternative genres such as pop punk and shoegaze. To most people they sound like less funded version of Andrew Jackson Jihad (now simply AJJ). I can’t really argue with that either. Mix AJJ with Foxing, and a dash of Neutral Milk Hotel and there you have it- Nana Grizol. Considering the fact that two members of Neutral Milk Hotel are in this band, this doesn’t come off as a surprise.

Nana Grizol only has two full-length studio albums, and the latest album, Ruth, was released back in 2010. Despite being very inactive in the studio, the band has been on multiple tours since then, even playing a few shows in 2016.

Love It, Love It, Nana Grizol’s first album, is simply a feel-good, spirited masterpiece. It never at any point crosses the line into being sad- maybe at most being a little self-reflective. It’s an album that I can see myself sitting on the porch (that I don’t have) and drinking 17 Arnold Palmers to. Ruth is a bit more mature and a lot more twinkly. The difference between the two albums is colossal, but they are both really dang good.

Nana Grizol, without a doubt is going to be making an appearance on several playlists this summer. They radiate the ideals of living in a world that is so vastly diverse, coexisting among people that are just as confused as yourself. Nana Grizol wants you think that living isn’t such a bad thing. They’re a change of pace and absolutely necessary to anyone who needs a good pick-me-up.

Advertisements

The High Llamas

By Eli Schoop, Copy Editor

Lately, I’ve been listening to the High Llamas. I don’t really know why, besides the fact that I glanced at the band through someone whose taste I highly respect. They’re not winter music, per se.

At least, as seasonal as people who are Beach Boys obsessives can get in the very least. Warmness as an entity in music is oddly not as praised, even if you’re earnest. Kitsch and irony get a pass, depending on the value of the release, but it’s certainly less beloved than say, a manic-depressive odyssey. It’s not fair to the High Llamas, because all music should strive to this much craft.

The usual comparisons are Stereolab, Nelson Riddle, Brian Wilson, yada yada melody makers. You get the picture. Experimental pop has a weird place in culture. Usually, you see it sit as this pristine ideal not to be interacted with, lest disturbing the mad geniuses at work.

Sean O’Hagan’s group is not that version of pop perfection. Rather, he lets the music prove itself not just through ingenuity, but sheer determination as well. The arrangements are loveliness incarnate. As I sit here, I’m disassociating from ingesting this sort of lush, vital songwriting.  Is there such a thing as too many harmonies?

Moreso, most other bands of the ilk, the High Llamas want to take you on illustrious journeys. Snowbug, their 1999 LP, gently feels out the atmosphere of every track, with none running out of steam.

The last place you’d think the songs would be produced from is the United Kingdom, as the breezy arrangements are reminiscent of Moroccan shores or French villages. It comes as no surprise that O’Hagan went on to compose for films, as his style lends itself magically to cinema, feelings and emotions vibrant in his music.

It’s extremely hard to imagine actual people creating this in a studio, rather than in some enchanted forest where Phil Spector never got incarcerated. Pristine pop of this magnitude can’t be contained by force, even if the nature of it is mellow and serene.

 

In the past couple of years, I’ve had a mild infatuation with bands and artists that ooze this innovative verve but just couldn’t quite get the acclaim they deserved. Gospel, cLOUDDEAD, Drexciya, and Lilys all fit this bill as sonic pioneers in their respective genres.

The High Llamas exist in this non-acclaimed sphere, quite unfairly. What they devised was unreasonably pushed as derivative and trite, and without proper understanding of their content. Long live the High Llamas, for if they continue to make music, melodic pop will have a bright future.

 

 

Ducktails

By Jonathan Fuchs, Copy Editor

I’ve never really been good at discovering new bands on Bandcamp. Sometimes I stumble upon hidden gems, but I usually depend on friends, Facebook groups, and whatever Facebook event page for a nearby DIY show that has Bandcamp links. At this moment, those sources aren’t really giving me what I want, so instead I’ll leave the weird comfort that is Bandcamp to talk about a band that’s been on my mind for a while now, and that’s Ducktails.

The band’s name always intrigued me, since it plays off “DuckTales,” the popular ’80s retro cartoon that I’ve been watching a lot of since I started college (other retro cartoons I’ve been binge-watching since I graduated high school include “Darkwing Duck,” “Rocko’s Modern Life” and the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

Because of “DuckTales,” I’ve always chuckled to myself when I saw their name in a Pitchfork article or saw them in a music venue’s calendar, but I was never interested enough to actually check them out.

After stumbling upon their newest track “Don’t Want To Let You Know,” I was immediately sold. I loved their strange synths, funky bass and singer Matt Mondanile’s voice. After some more research, I learned that Matt Mondanile is actually the guitarist for Real Estate, and that Ducktails is a side project of his. Real Estate has always been a band I enjoy quite a bit, even if I found their last album, Atlas, bland, so I began to question why I never checked Ducktails out earlier.

The next track I checked out was “Headbanging in the Mirror,” which I loved since it sounded like a psychedelic Real Estate song. It didn’t really sound at all like the first song that I listened to, since it was calmer and there were no synths this time, but I still loved it.

When I figured out that this was a single off their newest album St. Catherine, which came out earlier this year, I decided just to check the album out.

I pressed play and immediately burst out laughing when I found out the first track is called “The Disney Afternoon,” which is a string of programming on the Disney Channel where “Ducktales” played on television when it aired.

I was fascinated by this album and loved almost everything about it. Slow songs on calming indie albums like these always bore me to tears (and can even give me minor anxiety), but the slower tracks on this album like “Heaven’s Room” never became bland because of its unique violins and layering of the background vocals.

Listening to St. Catherine was like something I’ve never experienced before; almost every single track was flawless in my eyes and it was everything I think of when I think about the perfect summer album.

Ducktails is very similar to Real Estate, except without the pop sound, and instead more of psychedelic influence, which makes the instrumentation a lot more interesting. This is most definitely going to be a band I’ll spend a lot more of my time and money on.