Music these days can be so diverse – not like before when it used to be all chanting all the time. Remember that? Ah, music really does it all – it can get you pumped for a workout, it can get your hips shaking, booty quaking, it can make you laugh, cry, calm you down after a big ol’ freak out, wow you with highly technical proficiency, put you to sleep, and so forth. You never know what you’ll hear these days, especially if you have your ear to the ground for new music.
I am someone who likes to do just that. New music to me is like…a beef sandwich. And usually it isn’t long before I’m ready for my next beef sandwich, with lots of gravy. As such, I just finished aurally chowing down on the fresh-out-of-the-oven solo album by one Jerry Grey, who has been cooking up his first solo effort for some time now. Some time indeed. The sun has risen and set a thousand times since I first heard tell of this album.
Slow N’ Steady
So, yes my good peeps, the Jerry Grey solo album has been coming together slowly, with the help of Fiercemule Productions, which is a studio here in south western Ontario at which the Fiercemule himself is at the helm.
Fiercemule Productions has lately been quite active, working on a number of different projects, including this solo thing by Jerry, which has been, as mentioned, long rumoured. Jerry recently wrapped things up with Fiercemule, and I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek (or covert listen), as it were. Basically, I grabbed the USB with the masters and rolled out of the bus and ran into a cornfield.
I must say, I’ve known Jerry for many moons now, but I really didn’t know what he would come up with for this album. He has played in a number of bands over the years. To name a few, we have Grand River Orchestra, Town Hall Cryers, and even a band with me, Young Coconut, called The ‘Rents. The way I hear it, each band has a distinct sound, and one thing that Jerry is really good at is sort of complimenting the groove of the band he’s in, in a very organic way.
Here’s Grand River Orchestra jammin’ out on a tune…
To my ear, Grand River Orchestra is a psychedelic jam band (even if they’re playing during the day), Town Hall Cryers features Jerry and Jason Maile trading guitar licks and folksy rootsy rocksy rhythms (let’s just call them skiffle), and The ‘Rents is more of a funky punky I-have-no-idea outfit. I guess. You’d have to check them each out yourself, and you might not agree, but that’s why we have the First Amendment. Or the U.S. does, anyway. We have no amendments.
Droppin’ The LP
I also know Fiercemule (as well as anyone can know the mysterious Fiercemule, at least), and so I know that Jerry had a lot of musical toys at his disposal with which to make whatever kind of album he might like. I mean, this album could have been all electronic if he wanted, and I didn’t have enough information to discount that possibility. But, I was fine not really knowing, and waiting for the album to eventually arrive one night in the middle of the night. And, so, the Jerry Grey solo LP has finally has been left on our collective doorstep. Here’s the cover (also stolen)…
What Is It???
So, what is the album like? Now that I hear it, I can’t say I am entirely shocked at the direction he took. It is not a wacky electronic album, nor is it a prog rock album, or an album of stand up comedy (praise God). What it is is a an album consisting mainly of guitars, bass, drums, and various keyboards, with Jerry’s vocals front and center. In his other bands, Jerry has never fully embraced the “front man” role, but here, its his show and so he’s the guy who’s going to be taking the stage on Canadian Idol, for better or worse.
What is cool about this album to me is that it suits my sensibilites of fuzzy and scuzzy guitars, banged out instruments (well played, but limber), and poetic lyrics. “Those that can, they’ll tear you apart” – damn, that heavy. Ahem. There are a fair number of garage-y type songs on the album (like if the Stooges smoked a lot more weed), but not every song is that kind of song. Some songs are sad.
What I mean is, not every song is a rocker. Some are more acoustic, and are played back-porch style with Jerry’s sort of raspy but chill vocals laid overtop. These simpler arrangements sound basically like a stripped down live performances, which helps to break the album up into a few various sorts of jams. The variety, I think, benefits the overall album. If you like variety, this is your album. If you hate variety of any kind, I suppose you should look elsewhere.
But Wait, There’s Keyboards!
So, yeah, this isn’t really a front-to-back psychedelic album in a trying-hard-to-be-far-out-man sense, but it is fairly akin to certain ’60’s and 70’s band who flirt with the loose / trippy / jammy sounds of psychedelia.
A lot of songs jam out the organ sounds, and many of them have full drum kit and pick up the pace quite a bit. Others rock a 3/4 time sig. There’s some pretty good musical bits on here, too, courtesy of his various musical collaborators – several of whom are from the previously mentioned jam band, Grand River Orchestra. We don’t need to mention them – you may already know some of them!
Shots Fired – Need Backup!
So, those guys basically back up Jerry in this endeavour the same way Jerry backs up Ian Light as the front guy in GRO. The collaboration here sounds natural, and, generally speaking, you can’t even really pinpoint who’s playing what.
Even with vocals, which usually is the main character of a song or band IMO, it still sounds like one big organic groove to me in this case. That said, its nice to hear Jerry actually being the main guy singing on an album for once. Mr. Golden Pipes has been exposed at last!
The songs, after you hear them a few times, start to suggest some personal stuff that you might not catch at first – deeply personal, disturbing, like a dream you can’t remember…I can’t say any more, I must go! Suffice it to say, there’s a fair bit of toppings on this magical and musical all-beef burger. (or if you’re vegan, ok, vegan burger or whatever)
Basically, my suggestion to anyone reading this is to first get blazed, and then check this album out!!!