Grayling – The Time Was Now

Grayling
The Time Was Now

Grayling’s The Time Was Now is certainly the most mature of the band’s three full-length releases, mixing the dirty bite of 1998’s cassette only Symtoms with the more controlled songwriting of the band’s self-titled 2000 CD. The recording/engineering on The Time Was Now is by far the best of any of the band’s material, giving the band a more polished and professional sound. Still, Grayling manage to keep the same general musical tone of previous recordings.

The album’s title track bops along on a bed of catchy rhythm guitars, with singer Jarrod Wolny’s unique voice leading the way into a toe-tapping guitar solo. “Marysville,” one of two tracks re-recorded from the Symtoms cassette, plods along nicely on a bed of jangly guitars and thumping bass. “Kevlar” is the first real standout track on the disc, a slower number where Wolny laments, “I always say the wrong things / When I try to make things better / I should know by now that any further attempts will just upset her” before decreeing, “All I do is get in your way / Bring you down and make you insane.” Wolny’s guitar punctuates the choruses with sweet solos, pouring even more emotion on the already self-defacing lyrics.

“Revenge” is another straight-up guitar pop tune, while the drums-and-bass of “Would You Go?” turns into a dirty throb with the addition of Wolny’s guitar and double-tracked voice. This track rocks, flat-out. “Two Tracks” is quite simply the most beautiful track Grayling’s ever committed to tape. The band’s only actual ballad, the dreamy guitars give way to acoustic rhythms and eventually a shockingly pretty guitar solo. The band keeps it short (2:23) to keep things from getting too sappy, giving the song enough time to knock you out of your chair without actually figuring out what just happened.

The infectious pop bounce of “Cola and Gin,” another Symtoms re-record, picks the mood back up quickly. The crunchy pop rhythm guitars of “If Things Were Different” carry Wolny’s tale of a search for a little personal time, while the offbeat stylings of “The Answer I Wanted” recall the Violent Femmes. Wolny and drummer Shawn Grzyb share vocal duties, trading takes on the observation that, “There’s always something wrong when I’m with you, baby / There’s always something wrong and it’s driving me crazy.”

“Shortstop” is a re-recorded version of the band’s finest song, released only on a limited edition 7″ about a year back. This track completely defines the band Grayling, with rock-solid drumming, a thumping bassline, offensively catchy rhythm guitars, and a bang-snap guitar solo. When Wolny sings, “There’s danger in wanting to be close / Just like there is in anything,” his voice almost sounds like it’s coming from the grave. Wicked, wicked stuff. “Sentencing” is another slower, atmospheric track backed with a wall of acoustic guitars. Fittingly enough, the album ends on a fade with one of Wolny’s more dreamy and ethereal guitar solos (actually, the longest one on any known Grayling recording).

When it comes to reviewing The Time Was Now, it’s really hard for me to be objective. Quite simply put, Grayling may be my favorite band. They put on an electric live show, they write simple little pop ditties, and most importantly, I haven’t heard a single sub-standard song on any of the band’s three full-length releases. Every track on The Time Was Now is solid, though the balladry of “Two Tracks” and the rock-and-roll binge of “Shortstop” are enough reason to own this release in themselves. Grayling is simply the best band coming out of the remarkably talented Detroit music scene, and easily the best indie band that no one’s ever heard of. Readers of Delusions of Adequacy owe it to themselves to find out about this band.