Bands once sprang out of hometown connections or ties once or twice removed, but the Internet has revolutionized that along with everything else. The Gray Vines formed as a result of lead guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Jake Hoffman making the “virtual” acquaintance of drummer-vocalist Jordan Bowen and bassist-keyboardist Casey O’Connell. The three young musicians began exchanging musical ideas and soon realized their teaming possessed enormous potential. Their first self titled EP made substantial waves with both music lovers and industry heavyweights – the latter development is reflected by the band’s producer on their latest effort Obscene, Marc Swersky, and he brings his experience with major artists like Roger Daltrey and Joe Cocker to bear on this fantastic release. The band has a post-punk sound in some ways, but a clearer debt is owed to the nineties alternative rock scene, though The Gray Vines fortunately avoid ever sounding like imitators.
The opener “See Me” is the EP’s shortest cut, coming in under two minutes, and gets the release off to a memorably energetic start. It’s a six string ignited blast of pure rock fury with a jackhammer rhythm section nailing everything down. The breakneck pace announces a band who comes out of their corner swinging for the head on every shot. “Gotta Say” is a more traditionally minded alt rock number with some vocal theatrics and an inventive arrangement that never lowers itself to lowest common denominators. There’s a bit less focus on the punkier aspects of their songwriting and more nuance creeps in. “In Her World” is powerful and propulsive with some understated vocal effects and a wicked drumming performance from Jordan Bowen. It’s a further mark about how sturdy their songwriting is when they can seamlessly shift gears like they do hear and not lose any of their stride.
“Obscene”, the EP’s title song, is a much more challenging piece of music than those who’ve heard thus far and brings the best of their energetic approach into full accord with their artier inclinations. One reason their commercial potential is so pronounced, despite any idiosyncrasies is thanks to their talent for writing a memorable chorus. Rarely is that talent more effective than it is on the EP closer “You Don’t Know”. The moody melodic strengths of the song get worked out in a couple of different contexts and tempos without ever sounding anything less than convincing. There’s some particularly stunning surprises coming with the song’s second half that make it all the better. The Gray Vines have definitely upped their game with this second release of originals and can lay claim to being one of the indie scene’s most promising new rock acts. There’s an accompanying video for the EP’s single “See Me” that’s a valuable visual counterpart for Obscene as well. The Gray Vines are building an impressive future for themselves and listeners on the backs of releases this good.