Though word of the current “emo-revival” has slowly clawed its way from the indie underground almost all the way to the top of the mainstream grapevine, it could be said that the real, honest comeback is being synthesized in the form of experimental and noise rock.
Records like Grass Is Green’s Vacation Vinny are solid testaments to this sentiment. Appropriately aggressive, distorted, and dissonant, the Boston four-piece presents a lo-fi and hook-encrusted package that keeps up the pace and guarantees interest for its full 30-minute duration.
Moments of Vacation Vinny document the band swinging fearlessly into dodgy spots rife with off-kilter, loose discordance.
In “I’m From Dot Too,” Grass Is Green clocks out for a brief respite about a quarter of the way through the record, indulging in a rhythm-driven pace frosted with disagreeing call and response guitars that implore you to bob along and cringe simultaneously.
The group succeeds in building sounds that encourage this type of counter-intuitive reaction at more than one interval on Vinny.
But, while this is a guitar-driven venture, the dark horse of the 10-track release may in fact be the bass (credited to both Devin McKnight and Michael Thomas), which accents the right corners of each progression and keeps the ball in play.
Somewhat ambiguous in tone, there is a willful feeling of catharsis in the band’s sound.
The way the fuzzy strings resolve themselves on “Big Dog Tee Shirt Birthday Weekend” is rewarding closure for a lyric like “you know you don’t have to lie to me/but I’ll miss your alibis,” with grit and a little bit of tenderness wrapped up in a you-can’t-hurt-me ribbon. Chord choices in tunes like “Disjoint” and “Tambo” employ an unhinged, punk element that feels channeled from early-’90s, sometimes-far-out-there, post-rock acts like Unwound.
Vocalist Andy Chervenak coaxes his throaty whisper-squawk to heights that are downright anthemic in “Sammy So-Sick,” the record’s opening and possibility most memorable track.
Certain stretches of sound are structurally reminiscent of Polvo’s Exploded Drawing in their rushing and accelerated tonality.
The band proves it can bare its teeth to reveal an almost The Jesus Lizard-level of pearly white intensity in the twangy clamor of some of its more cacophonous riffs. But at the same time, it juggles a capacity to filter the tumult somewhat, yielding a breezy and even pretty-sounding slackness in the songwriting. “B-Kind” exemplifies this with a relaxed vibe that rivals Pavement at its most lucid.
Grass Is Green manages to whet the appetite and achieve an admirable degree of infectiousness, all while knowing when to beg off a bit and not overstay its welcome.
The result is Vacation Vinny being accessible and enjoyable enough to likely garner some less weird-inclined, but open minded, ears and to shine a little light on Exploding In Sound Records, the DIY label responsible for the release. Those familiar with Ronson, the band’s 2012 full-length, will be pleased to explore this more focused and balanced effort that excels in remaining angular through and through.
Grass Is Green – Vacation Vinny tracklisting:
- “Sammy So-Sick”
- “Big Dog Tee Shirt Birthday Weekend”
- “I’m From Dot Too”
- “Scattering Ram”
- “Another Song Called Supersoaker”
- “Vacation 2.0″