Tease alert! New Album in the can. Will be out sometime in the next few months. More and more shows popping up every day.
Thanks to David Garrick over at Houston’s Free Press for the “Local Love” album review. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out then listen up on itunes (link) or over at Spotify (link). Article below.
“There was a time when the city of Houston was filled with the notes of hot country nights, and cold beers at the honky tonk. That era when Mickey Gilley had his own beer joint and even his own brand of cold brew. It made sense for our hometown to capitalize on the imagery that others once had, and some who still do; of life in the Bayou City. However, those times have changed as country music has become more lacklustre and formulaic. Gone are the bands who you felt lived the life they’re singing about only to be replaced by a slicker format of the genre. But, if you’ve been paying attention; Houston has a new crop of country artists who are paving the path for those who live their tunes, and who you believe actually have. One of those artists, is Houston’s Grand Old Grizzly. This four piece has that certain something that reminds you immediately of Rhett Miller and Dale Watson…guys who wouldn’t honk the honk if they didn’t tonk the tonk. On their anticipated new album, “Cosmonada,” Grand Old Grizzly bring those hot country nights back in full swing by stretching their songwriting legs, complete with a mix of rock and traditional folk, making it a sound that’s all their own.
I should preface this by saying that part of the allure to this band, is that they’ve always had a hint of more rock than country to their sound. That being said, I’ve always found that sometimes, no matter how rock you are; you can’t hide what’s inside. That’s what this album feels like…like a band trying to keep it real which means they’re making the songs they make, no matter what you’d call it. The album opens with the very uptempo, and almost Billy Gibbons twang of “Red Hideaway.” The song immediately has a likeable quality where the band pops the tune along with a mix of Southern charm and accurately placed hooks. The song makes you feel like you’re getting away for the weekend to hopefully pass out on the sand of a nearby beach. The band follows this up with the “Being There” era Wilco sounding “The Numbered Streets.” The way that singer Will Thomas’ vocals mesh with the group vocals in the background is almost as magical as the way that the band mixes shades of seventies rock with these country elements like pedal steel and the hook heavy twang of the rhythm guitar. The band slows it down a bit with the third track, “Travelin’,” where they almost emulate Bob Dylan when he started to go electric. There’s a subtle drum beat from drummer Chris Lewis as a piano helps segue the track into an almost Jackson Browne meets Fleetwood Mac styled chorus.
By the time you make it to the barn burning vibe of the quick paced fourth song, “Did She Really?” I would think that you are heavily invested in the album. The band does some of that “leg stretching” by taking the listener on these “little runs” that feel like individual songs on their own. Those little jams bring the band into a whole new light as there’s a multitude of instrumentation that feels like they’re at a modern day hoedown. The fifth track, “Piltdown Hoax” has the feeling of a song penned by Jay Farrar with a hint of nineties alt pop. That’s not a bad thing, as it just adds to the depth of the band as a whole. “Adrenalina” rolls it’s way into a more rockabilly meets fifties sound, that’s more like Link Wray than anything else on the album. This is followed by the singer songwriter opening to “Eyes,” before it goes into a larger scaled song, where the backing vocals from bassist Mark Riddell and guitarist Paul Beebe make the song that much more deep and lush. The band takes a more Western Swing route with the track “The Rundowners,” where there’s such a big band feeling to the song that it almost made me look for a dance partner. A couple of tracks later, the rambling nature of “Yellow Fading Sun” just adds to the strength of these guys as a cohesive unit. The instrumental tune sounds like something that would either open or close a spaghetti western. It almost echoes the Reverend Horton Heat song, “Big Sky,” but in a more soft and subtle way. They follow it with the swingy and old school country vibe of “Grizzly’s Tune.” Though the song is sung in first person, it definitely feels like the track is as group effort based as it gets. There are no less than three to four hooks throughout the song, that could easily become a great way for these guys to open or close out a set.
The band finishes the album with the middle ground stride of the sing-a-long styled “Bitterest of Ends.” There’s a real feeling of finalization to the album with this track, though the straightforward personality of “Cosmonada” demands a second listen. I was definitely pleased as well as surprised with how complex this album was. Though I’ve always been a fan of this band, I can say that there’s definite growth from a band who was already doing things ahead of others in their genre. The way they mix up four or five styles per song is something that makes you revel in their song craft, while you enjoy the album more and more with every listen. You can hear “Cosmonada” live as well as grab your own copy when they perform at Fitzgerald’s on Friday February 20th.”
By: David Garrick
Well, we’ve been silent over here for a while. But, we’ve been super busy recording our newest full length album, CosmoNada (2015). 12 new original, and often strange, songs. Join us for the album release fiesta this Friday (Feb 20th) at Fitzgerald’s! THUNDERADO kicks things off at 9pm-ish. Hear the new album beforehand on Spotify, itunes, or your other favorite online music streaming service. Be sure to get your tickets in advance. See you there!
Free Press threw us some love. Even used the word “magic”… Looking forward to Sunday.
The Houston Press had some nice things to say about us in anticipation of Houston’s Free Press Summer Festival this weekend. Give it a look see!
Here’s an album review by Tom Haugen over at the Daily vault. It’s really an amazing review from our perspective. It’s always cool when someone is able to look through the same lenses as us:
“What’s this, a standout Americana outfit who aren’t punk guys trying to extend a stalled out career by abandoning their electric guitars for a pedal steel and Wranglers? Not a chance. What we have here are some fine musicians from Houston who never fronted straightedge bands, had a video on MTV during the punk explosion of the mid ’90s, and who probably cite The Jayhawks as a more relevant band than Social Distortion. bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250
If one had to make a checklist of the imperative hallmarks of a classic Americana album, Grand Old Grizzly’s self-titled effort would surely meet all the requirements. Clever band name: check. Interesting cover art: check. And the music? Well, let me tell you something about how these Texans display their talents.
The first half of the album is chocked full of impressive sounds from the alt-country of “Morning” to the quick country shuffle and vocal harmonies of “The Sundowners.” “Tallahassee” brings in a louder country rock tune that leads into the quiet and dreamy “I Was Thinkin’,” and “Indecision” sounds like the song that Rhett Miller (Old 97′s) forgot to write.
The second half doesn’t disappoint either. “Lament” illustrates how great they are at warm ballads, “Marvelistic Coward Band” unfolds in almost psyche-country vein, and the swift “Approaching Cars” has brushed percussion with a playful Western feel.
Frontman Will Thomas has a knack for vivid storytelling that’s as consistently solid as the musicianship, as the band employ just the right amount of lap steel and banjos among the standard rock band noisemakers. An instantly embraceable meshing of folk, indie, country, rock and roots flavored sounds, Grand Old Grizzly has just as much in common with Tom Petty and Uncle Tupelo as they do newer stars like Drive By Truckers and Lucero. I dare you not to love this album.
The story of Lamenting “Lament”.
Lament is the only song on the album that is co-written, although it is an odd sort of co-write. Mark had some chords and some changes he liked, no words to go with them. Will had four-ish, unfinished/nevergoingtobefinished set of song lyrics. Mark mentioned the need for lyrics to Will, Will mentioned the need for music for the lyrics. So, mark went through the lyrics, took what he liked, reworked it, added/subtracted/trashed/repeated, did what it took, to come out with a cohesive song and a cohesive story. So “Lament of a something something something” was born (I forget the original title). Will then made some more changes, mostly minor changes. The recording of this song was especially arduous, as it was constantly evolving. Paul subsequently used his producer powers and shortened the name to “Lament” in an expression of his personal feelings for the awkwardly long recording session the song was receiving. Thusly, “Lament” was born.
We’ve received a good amount of album reviews lately, and for the most part, they are very positive. I really liked this one. So, I posted it here.
Give it a look see. Feel free to tell us what you think over on Facebook or twitter.
Well, it appears we have a blank schedule ahead of us. Never fear, this Grizz doesnt hibernate. No, it’s new album time. We have been recording this album for close to a year, even before the other album was released. Were close, damn close! So, we have decided to go ahead and wrap this thing up before the new year. That doesn’t mean it will be available before then, but it will at least be completely recorded. Yep, we’ll be up in Beebe Gunn studios for the near future, and of course, we’ll be putting some new shows on the books soon. We’ll get some shows on the books once we see a light at the end of this tunnel.