Gray Young - Kindle Field
Record Label: Look Again Media Records
Release Date: 2008
Gray Young are three young men from North Carolina with ambition and talent, although their first EP, Kindle Field, does more to hint at the band’s future potential than provide a satisfying and engrossing record. The band’s style can best be described as atmospheric indie rock peppered with anthemic big riff arena rock and ambient space rock, and their textured meticulous sound is pleasant enough.
The record is mostly instrumental, and when vocals are present they are thin and breathy, and so hidden beneath the humming guitars that the lyrics are almost incomprehensible. There is also a fair deal of repetition here; the songs tend to repeat the same chords for a stretch before moving into a different stretch where a new chord is repeated. Opener “A Weighted Lull” is most guilty of this, and while the song mostly sounds good, it doesn’t do enough to justify its six-minute run-time.
The band also uses stop-start dynamics to good effect; “Release” and “Brushfire” both start with pleasing intros before halting and moving in another, even better direction. Another trick the band utilizes is ambient acoustic interludes; the title track and “Proxy Moon” are both under three-minutes, and while having what effectively amount to interlude songs on a 25-minute record is a little perplexing and unnecessary, the songs themselves are pleasant. The title track has some interesting effects playing with the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar, while “Proxy Moon” is more textured with dual guitars, synths and gock snare hits. However easily the best cut here is closer “Tilling the Wind,” which features an almost U2-esque explosion of rock guitar heroics bookended by a steady intro to ease the listener in and an outro which is effectively the effects from the title track reprised. The whole song sounds massive, and it’s easily the most captivating and interesting song here, ending the record on a definite high.
Gray Young may not be as explosive and massive as groups like Sparta, nor are they as melodic and interesting as Explosions in the Sky, but they are good musicians and they do understand how to make interesting, textured and well considered music, which is more than can be said for many of their contemporaries. Kindle Field is not quite as gripping as one would’ve liked, and what with the continued repetition and lack of clearly audible vocals, the band does seem a little lacking in personality. However, as far as debut EPs go, this is a good one, and while it’s by no means must-hear material – aside from “Tilling the Wind,” which I would advise everyone to hear – it is definitely enough to suggest that Gray Young could well have a very bright future.