Courtesy of Nana Grizol
Indie-rock singers that try too hard to be unique usually end up sounding like distorted camels. Often, these “creative” indie-rock lyricists don’t have much to talk about, and these scenester instrumentalists reprocess their percussion until the drums sound like miscellaneous car parts. And typically, these indie-rock bands just aren’t very good.
But Nana Grizol isn’t one of these indie-rock bands: It’s a clarinet-toting, harmonica-wielding, punk-pop-garage-rock-folk-fun-times band with 12 members, even more instruments and endless energy.
On their debut album, Love It, Love It, the band explores many diametric tones, sounds and themes. The album opens with “Circles ‘Round The Moon,” an up-tempo, chorus-heavy, lightning bolt of a song that clocks in at under a minute and a half. The song is whimsical and carefree, combining joyous keyboards and bold horns with lyrics that decry living in the city because “you can’t see the stars.”
Yet hidden behind all the youthful innocence, lead singer Theo Hilton’s songwriting also contains grace and depth atypical of most punk bands. Like Okkervil River and Neutral Milk Hotel -— two members of Nana Grizol were actually in Neutral Milk Hotel — the group’s loud and folksy brand of music lends itself to a mix of both the uplifting and the somber.
In later songs like “Everything You Ever Hoped or Work For” and “Voices Echo Down the Halls (for Jarod),” Hilton half-sings, half-screams lyrics about friendship, loss and heartache in ways that make the listener want to cry and laugh at once. The bands’ firm grasp on tone and loose method of playing sounds like a party with a mission.
Truly, the Athens-based group defies any one genre. By combining random elements of rock, anti-folk and punk, as well as bringing many diverse instruments to the party, Nana Grizol sounds vibrant, exciting and urgent in ways that no camel impersonators ever can.
by Asst. Entertainment Editor Geoff Schorkopf