The Wild Geese

If you want to complain that young rock bands have no sense of the past; no melodies; no hooks; no hope then what do you call a young band with the sense and taste to take a freaky masterpiece like Zep III as a model for their debut? Weak? Lazy? Unworthy of a listen?

The clangy, folk rock debut of Portland trio Greylag caught my ear in a record store the other day. At the time my eyes were fixed upon a female employee with a bad attitude, tight clothes, cool sneakers and such determined gum chewing that I was sure she was packing heat. Working in record stores was always about admiring/desiring the dangerous girls you worked with. This one made me nostalgic and gave me hope that the breed had not died out completely.

Everything is derivative, but condemning young bands like Greylag for being what the Beatles were in the beginning is a symptom of old age. They aren’t as good as… Derivative is being right, imitating old masters, in the beginning, is how great songs eventually get written. Sometimes. Sometimes not. But any band named after a goose, who works this hard and is smart enough to bring in Phil Ek (The Shins, Fleet Foxes) to produce, deserves at least a minute and this short, self-titled set whose mix focuses entirely too much on vocalist Andrew Stonestreet, and his Robert Plant-like moments (also Jon Anderson), shows promise. Ever since the similar sounding Dawes burned bright and faded, bands like Greylag have had it harder. Now all indie rock upstarts are dismissed one album wonders. Yes, the focus here fades. Lyrics are often simplistic in the extreme (a lot “babys”) and repetition is the band’s go-to way out of semantic corners. But musical idea beginnings like those in the sprightly, almost jig-like “Arms Unknown” or in the Zepish “Mama,” are promising signs for the future. I’m not saying this isn’t a bit lightweight, but everyone has to start somewhere.


stodgers's picture

"Now all indie rock upstarts are dismissed one album wonders."

That is because there is no loyalty in the ranks of indie rock listeners. They want the next big thing, which by definition means the last big thing must be cast aside. Hipster musicians live and die by their own fickle tastes.

romath's picture

One doesn't have to complain about or condemn anyone or anything to recognize that there's nothing special about Greylag. I don't hear anything new and no, they aren't starting where the Beatles did, absolutely or relatively speaking. While I wish Greylag the best, making them your rant's hobby horse is not good form.