Friday, June 18, 2010

Review #129: Some Say It's Genetic (2009)


Year: 2009
Genre: Punk Rock, Ambient Rock, Folk Rock
Sub-Genres: Post-Punk, Noise
Label: Wrong Island
41 Minutes
My Rating:

"Some Say It's Genetic" is a split album from the bands Grrrl Friend and HYMS. Grrrl Friend is a punk/folk/blahblah group from Portland Oregon that's been up and at it for almost four years, and HYMS is a one-man ambient guitar-based band that has a very unique sound. Last year they (in typical Wrong Island Records fashion) both put together this free split album, and because it's free you can download all the songs off of the bands' pages. There are nine songs in total -- seven Grrrl Friend tracks (which would make a pretty good album alone) and two HYMS tracks (which are both very lengthy). It's interesting hearing the combination of these two different types of music, but there is a certain spirit that the two bands seem to share which can be noted just by listening to the songs. And I don't even know what it is. I'm just saying shit, probably to make this review go longer or something... might as well not bullshit you here: YADDA YADDA YDAAA GABLAH BLAHBLAH BLIBBER BLABBER GERBER BABY FOOD DUUUUUUUUHHHHH DUUURRHHHH YIP YIP YAP YAPPETY-YAP! Well, this was the first album that I ever heard Grrrl Friend on, so I instantly fell in love with the band after listening to these songs, and then I feel even more in love with the band after hearing their other songs.

1. Grrrl Friend - "The Hat Was Too Tall"
Starts with a weird electrical hum for a few seconds. Various noises are made, such as a clippet from a news broadcast, weird beeping sounds, guitar sounds, drums, and even some keyboard tunes, it sounds like. Eventually, all of this stuff starts to pick up a more steady rhythm and melody, only to fall back down into the pit of chaos it arose from. The noise all abruptly stops to be replaced by only a soft acoustic guitar tune, some soft "oooh-oooh" singing in the background, and Duffy's softer singing voice. This section of the song shows off their more folk-oriented side.

2. Grrrl Friend - "Roadside Picnic"
This is a harder, more straightforward song, but it's a very upbeat one. Judging by the lyrics, it's pretty much a love song! The sludgy but happy guitar riff and the cheesy but fitting keyboard tune that accompanies it make this song one of the fucking best songs of the whole album. Makes me think of a big ice cream truck or something. They could have the "OFFICIAL DUFFY WRONG ISLAND ICE CREAM TRUCK" and just play the little keyboard tune on it over and over. That would be the best. This song makes me wanna just go be happy all day and go to the ice cream place and then have a fucking picnic and run around and go to the lake and stuff. Yeah, it's a good song. This one also features their then-current female co-vocalist, Ree Ree (if that's her real name, I don't know) singing alongside Duffy. The keyboard in the chorus section sounds like a police siren or something. At the end of the song, there's a fast hardcore section with a bunch of weird sound effects in the background.

3. Grrrl Friend - "Bestiality BBQ"
Heh! "Bestiality BBQ: where we fuck the animals before we cook 'em!" Hehehe! But anyways, this is sort of a country/bluegrass-sounding song with lyrics singing about typical hillbillies in the rural U.S.. Duffy sings in a fake southern accent in some parts. It's not very long. There's a quiet synth melody in the background.

4. Grrrl Friend - "Ouch!"
Another one of my favorites, here. Starts with just guitar and vocals. It's very soothing and uplifting. It's almost like the soundtrack to getting stoned in the summer. "TV controls the world, it's hard to cope" -- a sad but true lyric. In the second verse, the drums and the other cool weird sounds come into the mix. The chorus is very aggressive and chaotic, contrasting from the relaxed verse sections. If I knew all of the lyrics to this song, I could say more. Musically, it feels equivalent to watching yourself skip through the park in slow motion in Super-8 or something like that. What a beautiful song. After the second chorus, there is an outro section which consists of nothing but a repeated melody being played on an acoustic guitar.

5. Grrrl Friend - "The Slope"
The first half of this song is mostly noise. Weird noises in the background and a lot of drumming from Tambo. Once that all ends, we get a melody driven by an acoustic rhythm guitar, some psychedelic atmospherics, and drums and singing and stuff. This song is a bit sadder than the rest of the songs on here, but in a good way. It's very emotional and kind of watery-sounding. This song reminds me of being in the water or underwater or something like that.

6. Grrrl Friend - "I Think of Demons"
This one's a cover of a song by Roky Erickson. Once you've gotten out of the water and dried off, you can walk away listening to this one. It's a lot more straightforward than the other songs here... because it's a cover. It's a pretty catchy, nice song. It's about demons and stuff. Good guitar riff.

7. Grrrl Friend - "Toole & I"
The last Grrrl Friend track on the album. It's a mid-tempo punk song about loneliness, I think. The guitar here sounds really really good. I like the chorus riff a lot. This was one of the first Grrrl Friend songs I ever heard, and I loved it even on the first listen! This song makes me think of all the late nights I've spent alone and stuff. It's one of the more normal-sounding songs on the album, but even with that in mind it's a great pop song!

8. HYMS - "Rockrose (Dawn Breaking)"
And now that the Grrrl Friend half is over, let's listen to this other band. HYMS. HYMS is an oddity, but in a good way. So now I'm going to listen to this song... it starts out with a repeated one-string guitar line which is repeated over and over in the song as other guitar sounds come and go and harmonize with the melody. That line is dropped about 1/3 throughout the song, as the melody changes a bit but never really goes of course. Some of the tonage midway through the song sound really nice. Then at one point this is all covered in a thick layer of electric sludge-distortion. Actually kind of similar to a style of music I sort of created myself in the form of a lot of the songs on my White Noize Summer 2010 Demo. There's never any vocals. Just guitars. It's peaceful, but if you're looking for a song that you can dance to or sing along to or something like that, this might not interest you that much. The electric distortion fades out completely by the end of the song, only leaving the fluttering of two electric leads fluttering away like butterflies.

9. HYMS - "Cedar Falls"
This song is almost twice as long as the song before it and it's the longest track on the whole album (over 11 minutes long!). Once again, nothing but guitars harmonizing with eachother to create a sort of vibe... I'll bet when you die this is the music you hear. It's sort of happy, and sort of sad. It's almost a blank slate in some ways in that the music isn't really inherently anything except for what it is in the mind of the listener. Each guitar sounds like a different animal in a jungle of sound. Some of them sound creepy, and some of them sound not-creepy. It reminds you of life and death simultaneously. The song ends when the music fades out. Because there isn't any after that. Because now you're dead, remember?

Anyways, yes, a very interesting mixture. You've got the fiery folk-punk of Grrrl Friend and the wispy droning of HYMS. Pick yer poison. I believe HYMS does have at least one of its own full-length albums (released on Wrong Island)... they might have more. I haven't really checked right now. I'll probably review that album in the near future, y'know? And as for Grrrl Friend, they need to make another fucking record! I love those guys! So yeah, I'd say the Grrrl Friend half is definitely better, but that doesn't mean the HYMS half sucked. For some reasons all of these songs just make me really happy and remind me of Kizer Lake and St. Paris for some reason. I don't know why. But they do. This isn't even my favorite album or anything! But it just gets you in that good mood, y'know? So anyways, yeah, go to the Wrong Island Records page and download this album if you're a fan of Grrrl Friend or if this just sounds interesting from reading it. You'll get the bang for your... download.

Top 3 Favorites:
1. Roadside Picnic (Grrrl Friend)
2. Ouch! (Grrrl Friend)
3. Toole & I (Grrrl Friend)

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