Album Review: Greylag Glides on High!

greylag polaroid. Photo by Chloe Aftel greylag polaroid. Photo by Chloe Aftel

As the season changing climate, the summer leaves changing colour and falling, so is the temperament of the American music industry it seems, as folk rock band Greylag released their self-titled debut LP album on Tuesday, October 14th, released by Dead Oceans.

With this album being Greylag’s first professionally recorded debut since their first ever debut EP, “The Only Way To Kill You”, released in 2012 by Berkley based Indie label Ninth Street Opus, Greylag echoes from the steep mountain landscape of Portland Oregon, where the band is based.

Voicing the de-sensitized ages of man versus world, the musical arc of the album incorporates the classic folk rock elements which once dominated the Western mainstream over a decade ago. If there’s one thing that this debut has demonstrated, it is hope for artistic resilience by simply standing tall in one’s deep-rooted and honest message. The message could allude to any man’s struggle, ranging from the caffeinated computer hipster to the self-educated, salt-of-the-earth cowboy, looking beyond. Looking within.

Andrew Stonestreet of West Virginia on lead vocal and acoustic guitar, Daniel Dixon of North California on lead guitar, other stringed instruments, and keyboards, and Brady Swan of Texas on drums make the folk rock trio. The crust of the ensemble comes across strongly in their inherent ability to collaborate in creating fresh American folk rock songwriting material, and evoke nostalgia in their finely aged electronic and acoustic blend.

No doubt, guided by producer Phil Ek, credited for shaping the sounds of bands such as Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, Modest Mouse, and The Shins, Greylag’s guidance is heard lyrically in its tough struggle and modesty in “Yours To Shake” and “Burn On”, in its fear in male youth in “Black Sky” and ‘Walk The Night”, and in adventure and escape in “Another”, adding to it, the soul dynamic achieved in “Mama, “Kicking”, “Arms Unknown” and “One Foot”.

For a band with a brand new LP of nine tracks and 37 minutes, having finished their tour on Saturday, October 11 at Barboza in Seattle, Washington, and having performed on Friday, October 10, at Mississippi Studios in the band’s hometown of Portland, not to mention a band with 65 demos recorded to date, can Greylag face or spark the brutal and demanding world that is the current entertainment business and tough internet market with an album that shouts the lonely, yet eager generations of subjective obstacles?

The album, recorded in Seattle’s Avast! Studio, presents a clean production and varied instrumentation, which resembles that of 70s folk rock, with the use of mandolin, 70s and 50s guitars, appealing auxiliary percussion, and one Led Zep III/Buckley Axis heard on the tracks “Black Sky” and “Walk The Night” elucidate a darker shade of grey.

The album artwork, like the final goose to migrate, hence the name Greylag, is still. It sits. It’s a dusty faded maroon, hard cover book with its name pressed hard on the surface with a vague symbol just above its edges.

Now the question is, will Greylag keep flying? Will Greylag withstand the harsh cold wilderness in their backcountry shelter as they journey on?

So far, it seems the trio have succeeded in climbing Mount St. Helens, which rightly deserves a twitter share, or two with a café latte, or a cup a’ hot joe, to accompany.

The geese have earned their feed. That said, like we locals say near Mount Royal, lâche pas la patate!