Take two men, a guitar and drum kit, and a passion to turn big thumping beats and energetic rampaging sounds into something as essential as breathing, and you have the black frame spectacle. Fusing the feisty essences of rockabilly, punk, and psychobilly with expressive lyrical might and powerful inspiring vocals, the duo from Canada create music which could soundtrack a riot whilst persuading a thousand more eager hearts to join its passion. Their latest album Grady Sessions II is a breath taking storm of thrilling nostalgic sounds and modern heart spawn urgency and craft, a lo-fi adrenaline soaked surf through incendiary invention and captivating unpredictable imagination. It is outstanding, a record which lies somewhere between bruising the senses and sending them into orgasmic rapture, though in the end the result is the same as from both extremes.
The Ontario band consists of guitarist and vocalist Ian Sullivan and drummer Adam McNeill, two men who met as work colleagues in 2003 and came together as musicians in 2009. Their striking sounds soon found them with a constantly growing and strong fan base around the Dorchester and London area which with the release of their debut album Grady Sessions spread further afield. The new album takes all the impressive essences of the first album and explores them with greater depth for a distinctive and imaginative triumph. The release plays like a heady brew of bands like The Peacocks, Batmobile, and Living End distilled through the breath of Max Raptor and System Of A Down, it is a unique beast with at times familiar sounding sinews within devastatingly inventive and fresh creative muscle.
As soon as opener Patient Zero scurries through the ear with rasping riffs and disorientating rhythms, a tingle shoots through the heart. There is an immediate sense of something special raging alongside the driving vocals and shadowed gait of the teasing slightly abrasive maelstrom of ingenuity. The track stomps with electric tension and gnawing urgency aligned to unpredictable enterprise, a punk rock tempest spiced with a raw Gene Vincent swagger.
The following Bust Out The Boogie continues the mighty start, its rockabilly swing and challenging bite simply irresistible. The song makes it impossible for limbs and voice not to enter its affray, the energy and heart of the track a wild infection whilst the knowing romp of the vocals is an instigator anyone would follow whatever its intent.
As the album progresses the growing adoration towards the inciting sounds becomes an unbridled lust, tracks like Class Of Lonely Dreams and Use Your Claws, sensations to lose inhibitions to. The first is a caustic call to arms to match anything on the Roll On album from Living End, its instigation as contagious as the rough surfaced sounds, whilst the second with its waspish lilt to the guitars is a seductive tease to lose oneself within with ease. Their stunning might is followed up with the just as provocative and storming sounds within Up, Back, Or Off, an track to ignite the primal needs and greed with expertise.
Though at times the surface sound has an admittedly very agreeable but similar initial assault it does not take much effort to discover the inspired versatility and diversity to the ideas and sounds at play. Bored Of The Lie for example at first seems like a continuation of the previous track but soon lays an undulating passage which is continually mesmeric and constantly challenging. It is also quite brilliant as are all the songs and album as a whole.
Further highlights come with the likes of An Ode To Dogs Bollocks which starts as something Buddy Holly might have imagined and evolves through a snapping spicery of Calabrese and Reverend Horton Heat, the military surge of Marching Orders, and the emotive twisting glory of Oscar Mike. The last of the trio is immense, the vocals of Sullivan pushing the already striking range and depth of his ability to greater heights whilst the rhythms of McNeill frame the sensational track with a persuasive and invigorating magnificence.
Closing with the dazzling The Mob Awaits, a quite delicious track with a tin pot alley swagger and sweltering unrivalled passion, Grady Sessions II is simply brilliant. With ease it is one of the best albums to appear this year whilst taking the heart on the most genuine and inspirational journeys in a long time. If punk n roll is your favourite tease thanthe black frame spectacle will leave you drooling from every pore.
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It’s awesome to see the album getting such recognition and good reviews. I’ve been a fan since the first album was released and this one it just as good. Their live shows are fantastic as well; always full of energy with the crowd getting really into it.