Friday, January 10, 2014
Esther Grey on Label Fantastic! / Little Room Labs Records
The sleeve for this single from Esther Grey is fantastic. The tri-fold silkscreened illustration on different colored card stocks reveals more of the scene underneath those buildings between these two cats from different worlds. Really nice the way the single slides in the pocket and you can't see it on that jpg. A lot of thought and work went into this package and the execution is really perfect. Esther Grey is a three piece from Guelph, Ontario, which looks to be pretty close to Buffalo and where I grew up. Lake Ontario dumps insane amounts of snow on everything directly around it for half the year which might help explain the somber eerie tone here. They've had plenty of time to stew indoors waiting for the summer which should last a couple weeks at least.
A-Side's "Buttermilk" establishes their creepy, serious narrative sound. It's a Cramps garage spooky carnival like if you took the surf sound and terrorized it in one of those open mouth fun house rides. All the blacklights and jump scares breaking that gnarly dude down into a jagged, stiff, teetering bounce. Reminds me of The Slow Poisoner who was equally hacking his own original path through the garage jungle with a weird collection of influences from gypsy folk to post punk with a guitar crunch creaking out the main melody with a buzz saw of static. Lots of tom to hit home this primal side of the proceedings and Steph on vocals is like a distorted, haunted Karen O carefully setting the scene against that portal opening guitar. It's like you walked into this seemingly innocent fun scene and can't find the exit anymore. "The Hairy Ballerina" opens this freak show with minimal guitar with that heavy '70s ROCK sound that picks up into a dirty blues bend. It's as gritty as the opening track laser focused on that garage sound and working through a number of changes on this instrumental.
A far off wind howls on B-Side's "Night Calls" and Steph is back up front with a slight distortion in a sing song laid back lullaby about whiskey and knives. I'm getting the feeling that Esther Grey is that cat on top of the trashcan in the alley and we're freaking out locked inside. What the hell is gong on over there. The swampy detached hypnotizing blues are beckoning you out on that fire escape and once you leave, the box is open and you wont be able to go back.
Pick this up from Little Room Labs, Label Fantastic! or their bandcamp page.