I found an interview with Gross Ghost singer/guitarist Mike Dillon on resoundmagazine.com, from back in September—my hopes must’ve shot up the moment when, asked what makes his band’s music unique, Mr. Dillon replied, “We make rock and roll. Nothing is unique about it, except for the lyrics, which are from my heart, and the attitude, (…) an extension of the personalities of the guys in the band.” So, full disclosure: I was high on this band before I heard a second of music, most likely for the way this guy sized up his band’s hopelessly-saturated context and declared, “What wheel? We aren’t reinventing s**t.” So ambivalently everyman.
The lesson here is that rock sells, and I’m clearly buying. Graciously, this did turn out to be a good one. Brer Rabbit seemed, at first glance, to be heavily reliant on ever-popular vintage production. It’s got its usual veneer of cool—guitars stay a few cents out of tune, the lead vocal remains muffled and doused in ‘verb, crunchy bass, trashcan-lid cymbals—but the songs themselves are a mixed bag and some just sounded sort of vanilla. A few repeat listens revealed certain tracks to be serious growers. I also came to appreciate Dillon’s delivery, not always the slightly-flat, dazed avatar of Lou Reed I’d come to expect—“Meltdown” reminds of a sped-up Wrens, stamping out romantic anxiety behind rolling toms and an ambiguous swirl of distorted guitars; he’s even more energetic on “Devious” amidst its acidic beach-punk. Standing out among the rest might be “Leslie,” which sounds like a riff on the Band Of Horses approach that adds some noise and nuts (thank you).
What I like most about Brer Rabbit, and Gross Ghost, is that their songs capture something really true about 20-something vertigo. Yeah, it’s close to home, but so is “Friday” by Rebecca Black… it’s not about the listener’s vulnerability. It’s just the little bit of soul that powers their music. Looking back, that interview might have easily caused me to be disappointed in this disc, but I just keep listening to it.
In A Word: Hazy