Grenade – Free


Looking at most music media coverage – even within the indie press, it would seem that the US has something of a monopoly on musical creativity. Most bands that do get coverage here are typically viewed as novelty acts (e.g. the blistering hardcore of Japanese bands such as Melt Banana) or as clever pop crossover (Belle and Sebastian, Radiohead, etc). Thus whatever music from other countries that does seep through to the American listener is regularly regarded as either an anomaly or as a regimented style. Either characterization is a disservice to the true variety and vitality of “indie” music throughout the world. Even if a great deal of international rock music is influenced by the sounds of US bands, such influence does not diminish the capability of these groups to do more than comically replicate their predecessors. Grenade, like many groups from Brazil, has been influenced both by the popular psychedelic rock of the late 60s as performed by everyone from the Beatles to the Beach Boys as well as the indie groups that share these musical ancestors: the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, etc. Whatever their influences, Grenade inhabits a world entirely of their own creation, which seems to stop time itself, suspending judgement of their work until it has already passed into memory.

“Free” dives right into the sound of Grenade. A burst of tape-noise and keyboards introduces the track, although this soon subsides, leading into a thin flanged guitar and doubled Pink Floyd-esque vocals. After the initial ideas are presented, a light keyboard melody darts in and out, adding a subtle but powerful embellishment. Slowly, additional layers emerge – oh so naturally, like a flower blossoming. A heavily processed guitar enters the mix, adding a more “modern” fuzz sound above the otherwise translucently clean production. Rodrigo Cesar’s computer samples complete the sound collage, culminating in the song’s animation and departure.

ike most of their songs, “Free” is a work of surprising and even startling compositional beauty. While not spectacular song-smiths nor authors of irresistible hooks, Grenade are still able to involve you so completely in their vision that you forget all their faults. The only criticism I can really stress is that their songs do not exhibit much versatility; and despite the narrowness of their approach, Grenade ooze talent from within the niche they are carving out for themselves.