Gris Gris 

For the Season (Birdman)

With iPods, endless websites touted as "the next Pitchfork," and every other form of music dissemination, it's clear there's no specific compass to guide rock trends anymore. Ideas are sprouted, hyped into trends, and then dismissed every five minutes. In a world of such swirling, fleeting bearings, it follows that the amorphous tomfoolery of Gris Gris can sound so powerful.

"Ecks Em Eye" begins the band's latest by slowly easing into a sax-honking march, and by the third song, Gris Gris has taken its space shuffle into a ring of Saturn where Syd Barrett is writing Gregorian chants. Eventually, the band descends into the kind of sunburned swooning that the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has already given up on ("Year Zero"), a T-Rex-leaning '50s teen ballad ("Medication #4), and the pastoral pastels of "Down With Jesus." The group's lifeline back to Earth is kept taut by singer Greg Ashley's sly voice, a skuzzy, fuzzy production, and increasingly strong songwriting that rarely falls for easy freak-out exploits.

More by Eric Davidson


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