The Bands of Summer – Common Grackle

15 Jul

GroopEase has a creative approach to selling albums. They feature several new artists a week and allow viewers to purchase the artist’s material for special prices for one or two days. It is the Groupon of music. I found out about this site a few days ago. So, naturally, I went prowling for cool new bands. And, even though I missed the special, I found Common Grackle, a hip/hop, indie blend. A what? I said the same thing. I pressed play. Out of my laptop speakers came the dopest Indie music I have ever heard. Why did I just write dopest? Because, I’m bemused, I have no clue what to call it. The music is a hugger-mugger of mashed-up rhythms and depressed lyrics. There is a slowed-down keyboard beautifully juxtaposed with lyrics about not wanting to die at a grindcore show (I’ll explain later). There are imprecations and rapping over spacey synthesizers. Then there is Gregory Pepper’s remarkably passionate voice that mixes witty sarcasm with true pain. It is an amalgamation of so many musical elements that my ears explode when I listen. But it’s a good thing. Let me make one statement before I move on.

Common Grackle is one of the most exciting indie acts to come out of the wide world of music in a while. And I think lead-singer Gregory Pepper has a response for my observation and it comes straight out of the lyric of “Down With The Ship,” track six of Common Grackle’s debut album The Great Depression (I bought it on Amazon for $5. Yeah, I’m cheap and poor). The line? “Told them all to take care but I don’t care a bit.”

The band formed at the suggestion of record label Fake Four Inc founder Ceschi Ramos (who raps in two of the songs including “The Great Depression” which is featured below). Singer/songwriter Gregory Pepper and hip/hop producer Factor were label mates and they began making music together in 2009. What formed was a magical combination of creative beats, hearty lyrics, intelligent instrumentation and one powerful vocal that sounds like it was chained up for years prior to this album. That is how effective Pepper’s voice is. Pepper and Factor churned out tracks with the help of Pepper’s band and a memorable 12-track album was created.

So where do I start with the music? There is bluegrass rap, a short dubbed ballad about a violent brawl at a laundromat. I think I am going to profile two of my favorite songs on the album, “The Great Depression” and “At The Grindcore Show.”

Oh, so I see where they were going with the title. How do you like that psychologically unstable video? How about the music and the lyrics? The music can best be described as indie/psych/pop/hip-hop fusion. Factor dreams up this swooning rhythm that hugs the rapped lyrics like a blanket. There is just so much sound and then, at the end, harmony. Harmony. Really good harmony, at that. The lyric is dark. “Dumb sh*t spilling out of his stupid f*cking mouth, I’m sorry mom and dad but I had a bad year, keyboard cut out hanging on the walls of heads of ex girlfriends.” It is downtrodden, melancholic and defeated. But, even with the rhythm, it works well.

This little ditty is hilarious, but scary. The melody itself is like a kid who just got ice cream, small and gleeful, but the lyrics are about how our protagonist is drugged and scared at a grindcore show where everyone is fake and he is lost. Sad but happy. Barret-esque. A lot of the music takes on this psychedelic quality and I am loving it. Keep rocking Common Grackle, it’s working well.

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