With over twenty years of touring under their belts, the patina-aged alternative rockers in GRAZE have achieved an innovative sound and aesthetic, concocted from the careful borrowing of shoegaze and 90s inspired desert rock influences.
The inauguratory band members began in Philadelphia, unimpressed by the style of bands surrounding them, instilled with a passion for creating something more fitting toward their taste and under their own terms.
Any amp-head who chooses to dive into the shoegaze genre knows, the surest way to categorize your band as an 'innovative' is by gathering the sonic touchstones of the past and combining them with those of the present. Abstaining from presenting as a cliché or becoming kitsch, the Philadelphia-bred rock assemblage is meticulously constructed from an emulsion of '90s distortion and ambiance—it's saturated riffs, harrowing vocals, long-winded harmonic incantations, and the bombardment of rhythms that begs to be air-drummed along to.
With just one first listen, it can seem like GRAZE is contributing to an epic allowance of nostalgia throughout their record's playback, especially in the ears of the innocent.
Your response for their latest catalog will affirmingly be decided by the type of threshold you have for distorted guitars riffs, invigorating vocal performances, and a multifarious abundance of lofty anthemic eruptions in tandem thanks to a bulky drum and bass. The band's latest album, 'Ante Meridiem,' surpasses all expectations of an alternative rock record from the modern era. It cements impressive vocal orchestrations and weighty riffs garnished with 90s nostalgia-inductive textures that ponder between birt-pop and shoegaze.
Welded songs like "Uninvited" and "Cast," and the alternative rock overdrive pedal-stomping anthems songs like "Chase" and "On the Roadside" into a complete and novel presentation that's so mystifying, so immersive, and so meticulously designed that it stands as possibly their best yet.
GRAZE manifests those nostalgia inductive rockers' spirits with a different angle, where their former founders would reach for prismatic guitar suspensions and glistening crashes. Guitarist Teil Wise gathers and incorporates titillating distortion and scintillating melodies over his guitar amongst Andy Kostrewski and Andrew George Paul Brown's adhesive cadence.
The opening track starts with a guitar riff progression so heavily piercing that it starts deluging amongst the echoing wails of Ryan Philip George's vocal feedbacks; 'Ven a Volar' mirrors that type of potency with sharp tom-tom detonating rhythms from drummer Andrew George Paul Brown and bewildering phasing effects on Wise's guitar for the added flare.
The saturated and driven amplifier gain coming off the guitar radiates an emulsive layer of smudge and grit that festers throughout the record, marked with the spiked slow-simmering stir of 'Spiral Titans' and the purifying meditation between the extra mesmerism and introspection of "Uninvited," and the flashing counter guitar choreographies in 'Waning.'
More than anything, the sounds of ramming-up the reverb, distortion, and filtering effects for an uprising chorus and mystifying soundscapes come naturally throughout this latest record. Cruising over riffing melodies comparable to the well-balanced yin and yang of their previous productions, rendering-up like a sonic testimony to the band's cohesive nature and internal understanding.
Despite the album's more polished moments, like the triumphant guitar squalls that open "The Chase," bewildering eclecticism trickles through 'Ante Meridiem,' even after this single. Opening up like an innocent meandering lullaby that soon finds itself immediately transformed and engulfed in the scintillating riffage of an overruling guitar, the song traverses between the calm watery spaces of a mystifying verse, where melodic vocals texturize the atmospheres, and musical intervals of heavy-head banging cymbals for the chorus—like a hegemonic shoegaze masterpiece. The intoxicating mix hovers around like an intoxicating haze, revolving and diffusing pounding guitar squalls and bewildering vocal crescendos that drone out into the super-charged atmospheres that GRAZE create in unison like a clandestine incantation from the future over "The Chase."
"Waning" is like an infatuating melodic interlude suggesting a sonic promenade between Wise's crunchy and distorted electric guitar and its clean-amped sister, weaving together in jovial unison that creates relief before for the disorienting lift-off in 'Ven a Volar,' which translates to "Come Fly." Over the rise and churn of gritty and robust strings that oscillate incessantly and overlap festooned with soaking distortion, Ryan George erupts over an anthemic roar that tails into a hymn-like mantra, mystifying and enchanting you at the same time. It's a track that lands cohesive with the shoegaze and alternative rock 90s aesthetics of previous titles. A novel sense of psychedelia ventures into a space that can feel discombobulating sometimes in the verses as filtering and phasing effects over the guitars overlay your mind like a THC induced head-band, while never giving much room to breathe from the commotion of grit and psych-inductive sounds; they inherently diffuse so naturally.
Behind the visible alternative 90s rock and shoegaze expansionism found within the fleshy core of 'Ante Meridiem,' GRAZE finds a balance of mystifying air and controlled melodic grit. There's always a carefully constructed top-line melody, an expressly soulful vocal delivery, a rich and sprightly bassline for each bombastic rhythm, and thick riffs that erupt over performances immersed in a boiling passion.
"Spiral Titans," the album's long trilling six-minute venture, illustrates those blueprints with timeless form unsurprisingly. Written like a shoegaze odyssey of epic proportions, the song builds a wall of guitar amplification and booming drums that resolve naturally into melodic solos that echo back into the void from which they came, redolent of Ryan's bewildering top-line inflections that usually come attached. It's a monumental detour of zealous rock and dynamic mysticism in the form of guitar and vocal effects that plant the Philadelphia rockers in an enamoring spotlight.
Denuding the nodding winks of nostalgia that come appended, 'Ante Meridiem' captures a band at their most distinguished, excelling into more novel territories eschew of cliche, or suggesting kitsch, and never falling anywhere short of extraordinary.
What was the principal ethos you found yourselves trying to adhere to throughout 'Ante Meridiem,' and do you think you've grown as a band because of that attention to detail?
We set out to make our benchmark record, our defining moment as a band, and the culmination of everything we’ve done in our 20-year history. In the past, we’ve refined our music on tour and the studio was simply a place to document our live sound. None of the songs on ‘Ante Meridiem’ were played live and most were never even played as a full band. This allowed us to add more subtle textures and understated performances and really focus on the harmonies and other instrumentation that we never would have realized in a live setting. We’ve definitely grown as studio craftsmen but are now faced with figuring out how to bring this show to the stage.
What were your headspaces and mindsets looking like when writing 'Ante Meridiem,' and the upcoming months before its release?
This is our third record and our first release since we haven’t been an actively touring band. Our past releases have been an effort to capture what we do live but with ‘Ante Meridiem’ we deliberately took our time and let things marinate to really craft a record… which is probably why it took over 7 years to write and produce. Thematically, ‘Ante Meridiem’ is an introspective journey exploring one’s greatest fears, joys, triumphs, and failures. It is a passage across the landscape of solitude in search of connection but finding unavoidable heartbreak and the inevitable need for redemption.
What's something each of you invested a lot of time in perfecting with regards to your performances throughout Anne Meridiem?'
The engineering and production were our biggest investments on this record. We actually built our own studio during the process. Although that did slow things down considerably, it was worth it in the end as we could experiment with new recording techniques and essentially have “unlimited takes” to nail our performances. We came in with our parts well-rehearsed but were open to suggestions and not afraid to improvise. Regardless of our primary instrument, we all made contributions to vocal harmonies, percussion, bass, guitar, synths, and unconventional instruments such as musical mobile apps, field recorded sounds, and a lot of guitar pedals.
Can you explain how you approached curating 'Ante Meridiem's' playback and did you encounter any challenges during that process?
We wanted ‘Ante Meridiem’ to feel like a cohesive album that brings the listener along on a journey rather than a collection of songs we’ve recorded over the past 7 years. The biggest challenge for us as a band was agreeing on the album sequence and which of the 15 songs we demoed would make the final cut. The songs flow narratively and the lyrical and melodic themes that resonate throughout the album invite repeated listens.
Are there any new milestones you've set out for yourselves this year as a band? What are they, and how have you been working towards those new goals?
We’re no longer on a label or with any sort of management agency so we’re left figuring out for ourselves how to get our music heard by a wider audience. We never compromised on the writing or recording of ‘Ante Meridiem’ so we can be completely satisfied with any attention we get. This is us. This is our sound and our art. We hope you get as much out of it as we put in.