Hello. How are you? Can you believe it’s 2014 already? Crazy, isn’t it? And so we start a new year full of new music. A great way to start this new year of sure to be excellent music would be to head out and grab that new Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks album Wig Out At Jagbags. I’m telling you, go get it. Looking for something different, you say? Hmm, well if you want something a little left of center but great nonetheless I’d recommend Blank Realm’s Grassed Inn. As with Malkmus it’s a great way to start the new year.
Australia has contributed its fair share of great indie and rock music over the course of, well, a really long time. Blank Realm will surely go down as part of that heritage of stellar rock from down under. Comprised of siblings Daniel, Luke, and Sarah Spencer along with Luke Walsh, the band boast a sound that never gets massive, yet their songs have this expansive sound to them. Imagine this big, dreamy, hazy noise coming from inside a closed closet door. You open said door and find this whole other universe. Grassed Inn is the feeling of finding something rather awe-inspiring inside a rather plain little box. There’s a lo fi vibe to the songs and production, yet within those grainy walls is contained big ideas and a world of gritty dreams and hazy psychedelics.
“Back to the Flood” opens like 1987s Dinosaur Jr on uppers. It’s this sepia-toned rocker that is part Dino’s You’re Living All Over Me and The War On Drugs’ Slave Ambient. If I had to say “Hey, if you like(insert band here), then you’ll love Blank Realm”, I’d probably say Adam Granduciel’s The War On Drugs. Both bands go for this DIY grandiosity that works beautifully, and both bands never seem to worry about rushing to get to the conclusion. “Falling Down the Stairs” keeps the good vibes going with quirky keys and a fun, gritty pop vibe that never gets too happy. There always seems to be a darkness lurking under the song. “Bell Tower” has an eerie sound that is reminiscent of Crocodiles-era Echo and the Bunnymen. “Bulldozer Love” is 8 1/2 minutes of reverbed guitar and a driving beat that brings to mind Beaches, another Australian band that has invaded our shores and ears. I quite like “Violet Delivery”, a decidedly electronic track that sounds like Big Audio Dynamite got in a fight with the Psychedelic Furs. “Reach You on the Phone” closes this great album out on a dreamy and longing note.
If Grassed Inn is any indication of what we have to look forward to in the coming year, I’d say this is gonna be a pretty great year for music. It’s a lo-fi, hazy album that isn’t afraid to get poppy and weird. Sometimes in the same song. Blank Realm never shy away from a catchy melody, and they aren’t afraid to set that melody on fire and laugh as it burns. My kind of band.
8.2 out of 10