mp3 premiere: "LIN" - Strange Relations

photo: Tamara Alswager

photo: Tamara Alswager

It's no secret that we here at The Grey Estates think Strange Relations are among the most creative and brilliant musicians we've come across in recent memory. On September 8, they're following up the lovely Weeknites EP with a full length on Tiny Engines called Editorial You and we're excited to bring you the premiere of the album's newest single "LIN". Slinking instrumentals remain a persistent backing in a track full of personality and edge — vocalist Casey Sowa holds a commanding presence, altering between husky whispers and rapidly swirling thoughts, while bandmate and girlfriend, Maro Helgeson provides a lush instrumental backdrop for it to fall upon. Strange Relations always has a habit of creating an atmosphere with their music — a place where all feels magic and anything is possible, and "LIN" is no exception.

As the band explains,

"LIN is about the yearning to make a real impact, and feeling distanced over time from the original drive that sparked the pursuit through the act of repetition in performance/performativity. It's about losing yourself to your ambitions, and feeling perpetually swept up in the competition of life. It's about the pressure to be or become desirable in order to fulfill your personal desires. This track was particularly inspired by Metric; there's even a lyrical reference that is a bit of an homage to Emily Haines, one of my main inspirations as a songwriter (see if you can spot it)."

rewind: You Might Be Right - Happy Accidents

words: Matt Latham

rewind takes you back to a previously released album that we don't want you to miss. 

During my lunch break at work one day, I opened my phone and randomly thumb-typed a bunch of words on what I’d do if I could time travel. The first thought I had was to go back in time to go to a bunch of early gigs from my favorite bands. Wouldn’t that be great? Though if everyone could time travel would they do the same? I pondered on the image of several front-people of several bands confused when they sell out a 100-capacity venue and everyone sings that unfinished song they wrote last night. The other idea was to make a younger version of myself listen to a lot of songs that past-me would find very relatable. It’s very annoying when I hear songs and immediately they describe me at other times in my life. Happy Accidents’ You Might Be Right is full of songs like this.

I’m not naive enough to believe that listening to this album whilst I was younger would’ve sent my life spiraling in the direction that would’ve led me to a happier early twenties; a couple of songs strike very strong personal chords. Ten years ago, 21-year-old me was exactly what the song Leaving Parties Early describes. A mixture of social anxiety and fully believing that there’s something wrong with you for not wanting to be as social as everyone else. It’s relatable - it makes you realize that you’re not alone — that it happens to other people.  

Relatable is a word that comes across a few times as you listen to this. There’s a lot about self-doubt, second guessing and taking a very pessimistic view by default. The opening track’s called "But You’re Probably Wrong" which is followed by the album’s title: "You Might Be Right". But then there’s a touch of positive affirmation in which you start to look back on darker periods and get surprised about why they had such a strong hold on you.

The album has this great little mini-war with itself celebrating the little victories over apathy and pessimism with realistic optimism. Whilst most of the lyrics feel as if they’re overwhelming dour - the odd turn of phrase and general upbeat indie-pop nature of the music still encourages to keep on going. Even the slower songs, "Feel the Same - Unfavourably" and "Quiet" feel like they’re downbeat commentary on life and social interaction yet there’s the slight upbeat of acceptance throughout. Again there’s the relatable aspects (those people you know but not particularly fond of, public transport) and how the band's lead vocalist Rich Mandell mini arc of acceptance turns out to be sage advice or at least a nod in the right the direction.

The album peaks with excitement at the right times to fit the tone that the band wants to convey. Occasionally, drummer Phoebe Cross provides backing vocals and has her own moments to shine to contrast some of the harsher and honest lyrics that Mandell sings. As if there's a calming influence on the feel of the album that leads to the aforementioned acceptance. It ties into the message of the first song: things might feel bad by default but there's still the fact that there's still good in the world. Which is why this album ends up being more positive than first thought and worth a listen or ten.

I’m probably wrong, but I might be right.

mp3: "Top 8" - Who Is She?

words: Sarah Hojsak

There’s a new band on the scene in Seattle (and they have a really great name). Who Is She? is something of a supergroup – it’s the project of Tacocat’s Bree McKenna, Lisa Prank’s Robin Edwards, and Chastity Belt’s Julia Shapiro. The trio of friends began writing songs together, inspired by the missed connection ads they’d read in the newspaper. Now, the project has grown into a self-described “all-killer no filler” collection of inside-joke-filled songs, with debut album Seattle Gossip due out Oct. 6 on Father/Daughter Records

Who Is She?’s first single, “Top 8,” is the kind of energetic, conversational song that totally sounds like it was made by a group of best friends. It’s warm and upbeat, hopelessly catchy, with a spot-on look into the complexities of friendship. The MySpace Top 8 may be a thing of the past, but as Who Is She? so aptly conveys, social life doesn’t get any easier. “Don’t text me back till Monday, how is that supposed to make me feel? / Even when we are alone you treat me like a total 3rd wheel,” the band sings, asking “How do I get into your top 8?” Even with the confession of these everyday anxieties, Who Is She?’s cheerful honesty and optimism reassures us that it’ll all turn out okay (and makes us want to be best friends with this band). 

mp3: "Division" - Mini Dresses

If possible, it's important to begin listening to this song with your eyes closed. Instead, let the graceful, piercing soprano of Lira Mondal guide you through a track that moves at a peaceful pace, the sounds of guitar and drums just brushing past, their presence understated until the conclusion. It's then they take on warped, echoing effects, and Mondal fades away. There's a playful mysteriousness about this track, bringing to mind the music of Vashti Bunyan. "Division" is the auditory equivalent of squeezing your eyes shut, laying back in the grass and watching clouds pass by. Essentially, it's perfect. Their Joy Void record is out 9/15.

mp3: "Garden Hose" - Strawberry Runners

words: Sarah Hojsak

Something about Strawberry Runners feels so familiar, in the most comforting way. Perhaps it comes from the poignant lyrics that cut straight to the heart or the mountain-brewed country and folk influences songwriter Emi Night cites as inspiration, but if anything, it’s a testament to the strength that peeks through the autobiographical, nomadic songs. “Garden Hose” is the first song Strawberry Runners has shared from their upcoming debut EP In the Garden, In the Night, though many of the five tracks have been well-loved live since Night started the project in 2013. The EP itself is two years in the making, as Night gathered personal details from her years roaming across the country –  from Indiana to Denver to Brooklyn – to form a collection of wistful yet catchy songs of life, love, and grief. “Shallow breathing, little lungs, you’re feeling scared of what you know, terrified of what you don’t know,” Night sings amid lively trumpets on “Garden Hose,” her suppliant vocals building into a plea of “say my name, don’t ever stop.”

In the Garden, In the Night is out October 20 via Salinas Records.

mp3 premiere: "Move the Rug" - Total Yuppies

Let's face it, shaking off the blues that accompany Monday can be challenging, but lucky for us, there's a new tune from Total Yuppies that's just the burst of sunshine and energy you need. "Move the Rug" is the newest single from the band's upcoming Dadstache Records release out on 9/15. As flippant and fuzzy as the track may sound, it holds a much deeper meaning and if you listen beneath the wall to wall energized, gunning noise you'll hear it. Its spirited attitude might just be enough to convince you to tackle whatever you've been putting off or brighten up your day with a powerful dose of garage pop. 

As band member Jacob Walsh explains, "It's a distracted little ripper about inviting two of your closest friends to live in the house that you used to share with your partner and regretting it for the entire summer. Denial manifests itself in a dirty rug that you left on the stairs because it was only kind of in the way. It's hot in the attic of your stupid house, but you live up there now. It feels good when you finally move the rug so you play a guitar solo about it."

mp3 premiere: "Back To The Story" - Scott Yoder

photo: Eleanor Petry

photo: Eleanor Petry

"Back To The Story" is packed full of personality and change, a fluidly moving track that keeps you guessing, surprising you at each passing second with its musical reveals. It's the B-side to Yoder's upcoming 7" on Greenway Records, and serves a mystical, entrancing introduction to the release. There's a subtle transfixing quality to the single that's apparent right from the beginning, opening with a flourish of romantic instrumentals. Then Yoder steps in inviting us into a moment before, and all the while he remains a guiding force, even as the instrumental landscape around him transforms ever so slightly. The track is strong and personable, casting a spell over you that continues to buzz about your head even after it has played out.

You can catch some of the magic for yourself during the band's upcoming tour.

  • 9/21 - Pony tour kickoff (Seattle, WA)
  • 9/23 - Luckey’s (Eugene OR)
  • 9/24 - Holland Project (Reno NV)
  • 9/25 - The Hatch (Oakland CA)
  • 9/26 - The Echo (LA CA)
  • 9/27 - Harold’s Place (San Pedro CA)
  • 9/28 - Cafe Passe (Tucson AZ)
  • 9/29 - El Rancherito (Silver City NM)
  • 9/30 - Monarch (El Paso TX)
  • 10/2 - Hotel Vegas (Austin TX)
  • 10/3 - Poor Boys (New Orleans LA)
  • 10/5 - Sidetracks (Huntsville AL)
  • 10/6 - Hi Tone (Memphis TN)
  • 10/8 - The Cave (Chapel Hill, NC)
  • 10/11 - The Compound (Washington DC)
  • 10/14 - Muchmore’s (Brooklyn NY)
  • 10/17 - Now That’s Class (Cleveland OH)
  • 10/18 - UFO Factory (Detroit MI)
  • 10/19 - Hi Dive (Milwaukee WI)
  • 10/20 - Cole’s (Chicago IL)
  • 10/21 - Mickey’s (Madison WI)
  • 10/23 - Gabe's (Iowa City IW)
  • 10/24 - Blind Tiger (Kansas City MO)
  • 10/25 - TBA (Denver, CO)
  • 10/29 - Liquor Store (Portland OR)

Toon Tunes: Shaggy

words & curated by CHUCK

Shaggy from Scooby Doo has serious cross generational appeal. For adults, he's a reminder, and maybe criticism of, 60s youth culture. A tongue in cheek reference to the harmless, weed toking, van driving dude. I wasn't alive in the 1960s and don't know if this person actually existed. But, if I was a parent watching with my kid, I think Shaggy would give me a fuzzy, nostalgic feeling. For the kids, Shaggy is just a goofy pole thin doofus with a high voice. He's comic relief. It's an equally valid prism to view and enjoy him through. But the question here is, what kinda music is he jamming on in that van? Here's a playlist that I made for Shaggy.

Playlist:

  • Palehound - "Room"
  • Dirty Projectors - "Swing Lo Magellan"
  • Travis Bretzer - "Are You Ever Gonna Change?"
  • Day Wave - "Something Here"
  • NE-HI - "Sisters"
  • Mathew Lee Cothran - "Judas in America"
  • Adult Mom - "Told Ya So"
  • Eric Slick - "The Dirge"
  • Big Thief - "Haley"
  • Kevin Morby - "Beautiful Strangers"
  • Frankie Reyes - "Noche de Ronda"
  • Part Time - "Honey Lips"
  • The Cairo Gang - "Shivers"
  • Orange Juice - "Rip It Up"
  • Robert & Johnny "You're Mine"
  • Land of Talk - "Loving"

mix: Meet Our Labels of the Month

Back in June we started a brand new feature called Label of the Month, where each month we take to the site and social media to spread the word on a label we love. It's been a hit and to help spread the word even further we compiled this playlist of some artists from each label along with links to buy and more information.

Each of the labels chosen represent people that inspire me with their passion, creativity and hard work. I am honored that they allow me to spotlight them and work alongside them. Check them out because they all work so hard and be supportive of all independent small labels. 

Tracklist:

  • "Mother of Violence" - Califone from Insect Courage on Future Oak Record Company
  • "Light Between Us" - The Tender Fruit from The Darkness Comes on Future Oak Record Company
  • "White Lady White Baby" - Gabriel Slavitt from Missouri Love Call on Future Oak Record Company
  • "Wake Up" - Arlo Aldo from House & Home on Future Oak Record Company
  • "South Philadelphia" - Bootsy Spankins, P.I. on Future Oak Record Company
  • "Parking Lots" - Plums from Jen on Forged Artifacts
  • "Vibe Patrol" - Big Air from Don't Care on Forged Artifacts
  • "Brighter Ones" - Ahem from Just Wanna Be on Forged Artifacts
  • "Close My Eyes" - Tomemitsu from Had A Dream on Forged Artifacts
  • "Chain in the Night" - cheap fantasy from Life of Glass on Forged Artifacts
  • "Broken Skin" - Bellows from Split EP on Disposable America
  • "Right Supply" - Lubec from Dividends on Disposable America
  • "Running Hot" - Littler from Bad Hand on Disposable America
  • "Elephant Girl" - Soft Fangs from Fractures on Disposable America
  • "But I'm Slow" - Infinity Girl from Somewhere Nice, Someday on Disposable America