Indexing a bunch of influences when describing a band kind of misses the point. Nothing’s original. Not even the blogosphere-favorited who layer reverb-y tape loops while accompanying themselves on washboard and yowling into six echo mics in Icelandic. Fine. But isn’t the whole point to pretend like we’ve heard this before? So let’s get the referential, namedrop-y, “Recommended if you like...” stuff out of the way ASAP.
Toronto’s Greys play loud, feedback-fueled, angular riffs that sound a bit like if John Reis was fucking Duane Denison in an overly-lit, dead-end of America motel room, and then Dave Grohl barrelled in wearing a lampshade on his head and sprayed beer on everyone and spilled bong water all over the burnt-out broadloom carpet and there was, like, aFugazi poster on the wall, and then someone put on a Greys tape. It’s like if a band you liked sounded like another band you liked and then you liked it. That’s enough, right?
What Greys has that shitty bands don’t have is a sense of history, of being connected to the broad, unruly narrative of “rock and roll.” On their debut release, 2011’s Ultra Sorta EP, the quartet indulged their taste for sludgy, guitar-driven rock that you could maybe call “post-hardcore,” but only if you mean that it was so post-hardcore that it doubled back on itself and just became straight-ahead rock music again. Their latest EP,Easy Listening, was recorded at Toronto's prestigious Chemical Sound studio and it sees the band expanding, getting heavier, softer, faster, slower, melodic and atonal at the same time, without being all ostentatious and arty about it. The fact that they recorded the entirety of the new release live to tape is just another way of giving lesser bands the finger with one hand while grabbing their gigantic cajones with the other.
Even more impressive is that the band got together just over a year ago, in late 2010. In that time, they've toured across all of Canada and the United States, recorded two EPs, received coverage from Alternative Press, Exclaim!, PopMatters and several more, and have been asked to perform at festivals including North By Northeast, Halifax Pop Explosion, Pouzza Fest, and 2011's invite-only incarnation of The Festin Gainesville, FL. Their odometer read something like 45 000 kilometers in just six months, but who's counting?
The four kids, only barely in their 20s for Christ's sake, have already gigged with Mike Watt, Young Widows, Marnie Stern, Tera Melos, Braids, NoMeansNo, Algernon Cadwallader, Living With Lions andBy Surprise, all the while playing hometown gigs with their buddies inBurning Love, DD/MM/YYYY, Indian Handcrafts, Teenage Kicks, Spitfist, Rituals, The Junction, TV Freaks and plenty more, holding their own at each show.
That they’re a) good; and b) have earned it would be fine, but add to this a welcome sense of humor both on stage and off (see: song titles nodding at The Simpsons and Twin Peaks and all the other shit you like), and you’ve got a band that’s not only good but instantly likeable. And cool. And without really acting like they’re trying to be. And without really acting like they’re trying to not try to be.