Friday Full-Length: Greenleaf, Greenleaf 10″ EP

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I put up a brag post to this effect the other day, but this record has been a holy grail release for me to own on vinyl; I said as much as recently as last month when I reviewed  Greenleaf‘s new album, Echoes From a Mass (review here). It exists, you can chase it down, but only 500 copies of the original pressing were made through Molten Universe, and especially one in good shape is should-be-in-a-museum-under-glass-surrounded-by-lasers kind of stuff. I was gifted a copy by a good friend who told it was from his collection. I have my doubts, but welled up with tears just the same at the gesture of someone-who-actually-knows-you affection.

Timeline-wise, Greenleaf‘s Greenleaf is contemporary to Dozer‘s 2000 debut, In the Tail of a Comet (featured here; discussed here), which came out through Man’s Ruin Records, and considering the way founding guitarist and lone-remaining original member Tommi Holappa talked about the origins of the group in the video interview that went up earlier this week — I know, lots of Greenleaf around here lately; please address all complaints to my butt — where he said it was a side-project, kind of a toss-off without being a toss-off, a way to pay tribute to the heavy ’70s, that vibe comes across more in the five songs/24 minutes of the 10″ than even in the band’s subsequent 2001 debut album, Revolution Rock (discussed here).

With Holappa on guitar, Bäcke on bass, and LidĂ©n drumming, vocals were handled by Lowrider‘s Peder Bergstrand and Dozer‘s own Fredrik Nordin, the latter joining Bergstrand on second cut “Sold My Lady (Out the greenleaf self titledBack of an Oldsmobile)” and fronting side B opener “Smell the Green” on his own. The influences of Sweden’s November and bands like Leaf Hound are rampant through the swinging “Kvinna Du Ger Mig Ingen Kärlek” (on which Bergstrand also plays guitar and bass) and the more brash opener “Get Your Love Outta Here,” which sounds like they wrote it on the spot even 21 years after the fact. And I wouldn’t doubt it. It’s a righteous jam and a two-minute speedster, and while I’m not about to defend the sexual politics of the record — dudes writin’ about ladies on side A, even in Swedish — side B, with “Smell the Green,” the seven-minute highlight “Land of Lincoln” and the half-psych, more Queens of the Stone Age than Budgie “Status: Hallucinogenic” show that even in their infancy, Greenleaf showed sonic aspirations beyond homage, or at very least a take of their own on what they were putting into their ears.

By their own admission, Greenleaf had no idea what they were setting in motion with this EP, but it says a lot about the nature of their work that even as their lineup would continue to shift for a decade and a half afterward, they maintained a consistent quality of songwriting and managed to push forward, gradually making their way toward prominence as more than a side-project, as the main vehicle for Holappa‘s songwriting, and as one of Swedish heavy’s foremost purveyors. It says something that listening to Greenleaf, one song into the next, produces that kind of vague nostalgia and carefree sense that the photo on the cover art has as well, though that picture could’ve been decades old at the time. Greenleaf, in trying to capture that spirit on their own, now convey that same feeling these decades later. Simpler times.

Greenleaf would operate opposite Dozer for the better part of 10 years after this. Their first LP showed up the same year as Dozer‘s second, and even as Dozer hit the road as a full-on touring band, Greenleaf produced albums on the semi-regular, with 2003’s Secret Alphabets (discussed here) following behind Revolution Rock and beginning an alliance with Small Stone Records that would see Greenleaf through their next three LPs: 2007’s Agents of Ahriman (vinyl reissue review here), 2012’s Nest of Vipers (review here) and 2014’s Trails and Passes (review here), the first two of which were fronted by Oskar Cedermalm of Truckfighters and the latter which introduced Arvid HällagĂĄrd on vocals.

Following in the significant footsteps of Bergstrand, Nordin, and Cedermalm is no easy task, but now with four records under his belt, HällagĂĄrd is the longest-tenured Greenleaf singer and has brought his own melodic stamp to the band. That’s not to take away from the others, of course, but from Trails and Passes on through 2016’s Rise Above the Meadow (review here), 2018’s Hear the Rivers (review here) and last month’s Echoes From a Mass, one can follow a clear progression of his collaboration with Holappa, and the two have as much chemistry together as, say, Holappa and Nordin ever did in Dozer to-date. Understand, that is not a statement I make lightly.

But of course, all of that would be years and adulthoods away from the band Greenleaf were when they made this EP, and I consider myself not only fortunate to have the vinyl and the chance to hear it as it was first pressed, but on a more basic level the excuse to revisit it in the context of who and what Greenleaf have become. These songs are loose, unbridled, charming in their way and crafted feeling almost in spite of themselves. It’s the kind of collection that, were you to hear it now for the first time, might sound like a band that had some potential to make cool things happen. Go figure.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I’m apparently a mess today, which, you know, fair enough. Desertfest London doing their lineup announcement kind of threw me off — knew it was coming but forgot at the same time because I exist in a semi-conscious haze of permanent distraction brought on by lack of sleep, toddler motion and feeling overwhelmed by tasks basic and complex — and then the whole thing yesterday with Will Mecum from Karma to Burn having died and then not, because the internet and social media and someone said he was dead and then I’m still seeing posts that he’s dead but as of me writing this, 9:12AM on Friday, April 30, I have it on good authority he’s still on life support. But yeah, that whole thing took off — no thanks to me, I shared a RIP post from Instagram as well, soon enough took it down — and I feel like I’ve been thrown ever since.

My email is brutal. I have so much shit I need to get back to people on. I’m sorry if that’s you. I’ve been pretty burnt the last couple weeks. I guess I got thrown off this week too earlier on, because the Cool Thing that I said was gonna happen this past Monday did, but I was forbidden from discussing same. And the band’s rationale makes sense. I’ll post about it probably later in June, and that’s a while to sit on a Cool Thing, but in context it’s reasonable. I’m not about to be a dick and undercut someone’s promo plan because I’m excited about a thing. Professionalism is a joke, but that’s just being an asshole.

See? I just put up the Wax Mekanix questionnaire and got pulled away from sharing it by a new At the Gates single. This is my life.

Sounds pretty good.

I wonder if I can go shower and get back in time to put up the Severant premiere that needs posting at 10AM. Gives me about half an hour. I bet I can do it.

Made it, plenty of time. Not sure if that’s gonna make the ultimate difference one way or the other on my day, but it never hurts to get cleaned up. I’ve got a pretty decent nearly-every-day streak going, which is much better than where I was a year ago at this time when it was “if I get in the shower this kid is gonna stab me I better just sit on the couch and be afraid to leave the house.”

Whatever. I could go on. I won’t. New Gimme show at 5PM. Please listen. Please like the tracks. Tell them I’m good. Thanks.

Great and safe weekend. Hydrate. Watch your head. Stay safe. Get some time outside if you can. Back Monday.


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One Response to “Friday Full-Length: Greenleaf, Greenleaf 10″ EP”

  1. Ea Gregory says:

    Thanks for this, it made me realize I’m missing an album. I eyeballed their discography after listening to the initial release you posted and, lord, I’m missing Trails & Passes! Now on to remedy that. I got in to the band around when I heard Tommi had a “side” project from Dozer. Time to get vaccinated and get live music kicking again!

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