GrndNtl Brnds

GrndNtl Brnds

The Great Dumbening


GrndNtl Brnds — Grand National Brands, that is — specializes in burying lovely melodies beneath layers upon layers of noise and atonality, and yes, they do sound a bit like Sonic Youth. Then again, they surely have more in common with the pure lo-fi pop aesthetics of Yo La Tengo and the considered improvisation of early Pink Floyd than with everyone’s favorite avant-rock outfit. A song like the lovely “FM Radio” even sounds like a cross between Floyd and Tori Amos, which is fairly unusual but remarkably effective. And “Impact” blends lo-fi noisescapes with some quasi-opera vocals in a Zappa-goes-Broadway vein, which makes for a completely different listening experience altogether.

Pretty diverse stuff, then, but you’d expect that from a band that combines improv, pure noise, psych-prog-jazz and 1970s rock, and more often than not in the same song. With more time signatures than you can shake a stick at, and more layers than in an archeologist’s wet dream, this is complex rock with an attitude. Thankfully, though, unlike their moniker, GrndNtl Brnds take no shortcuts in getting their point across, and The Great Dumbening is a multifaceted album that rewards the listener who is willing to put in a bit of time and effort on this one.

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