On the Radar: Grel

Their sound is an tonic of classic rocking stomp, presented with the inimitable arrogance of punker youth, so when it came to my first listen of Grel‘s self-released debut EP, Red Sun God, my only real question was, “What’s the reptilian conspiracy?”

I ask because when Grel, who went by the moniker Deadweight at the time, sent along their first outing in the mail, it came with a note scribbled in permanent marker about said conspiracy, written on — what else? — a page torn out of a porno mag. Well, the most cursory of interwebular investigations has turned up the “information” about how many major world leaders are reptiles bent on enslaving humanity. This explains a lot. Not necessarily about the EP, but you know, in general. Wars and such. Low corporate taxes. The list goes on.

More importantly, the songs. Ah, the songs. Grel hail from Lawton, Oklahoma, and bask in Stooges brashness filtered through heavy looseness. One hears neo-psych commonality with Baltimore’s The Flying Eyes on “Silver Buckle,” but with the razor riffing of “Astro Cannibalism” — presumably that’s a different conspiracy — the sound is fuller, more barroom metal that’s already several beverages ahead of the evening. I dig the dichotomy, even if it means the recording (a self-done job) sounds inconsistent, a far cry by the end of “Astro Cannibalism” from the organ-inclusive ’70s vibing of opener “Lady,” on which the five-piece sound a completely different kind of unhinged.

Closer “Gannymead” follows suit sonically with “Astro Cannibalism,” with a return of the organ as well perhaps to tie the final moments together with the earlier material. Still obviously getting their style hammered out (emphasis on “hammered”), Grel carry the Hendrix fuzz of “Cosmic Lunch” across with fitting whatever-itude, and since I don’t think they’re ever as completely out of control of what they’re doing as they sound — for evidence, I’d cite the underlying build of the moody “Silver Buckle,” which reminds a bit of Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor before its payoff hits — their approach is all the more impressive.

But it’s the dirt that makes it that way. Clean up “Stone Frog” or pull out the feedback and I don’t think it would land with the same insistence in its march, so when it comes to Grel‘s debut full-length, which is reportedly in process, my only hope is that the reptiles don’t steal the cone-shaking soul out of these tones. If nothing else, the fivesome were right to change the name. Deadweight sounds like a nu-metal act on a pay-to-play opening slot. Grel is crazy enough that I don’t know what to expect, and going by Red Sun God, that’s just where they want their listeners to be.

Grel on Thee Facebooks

Grel on Bandcamp

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