Okay, you want rock band instruments? You’ve got ’em here, without hesitation: guitar, bass, drum, and an old-time classic-rock organ. The opening riff, featuring that dirty/fuzzy/distorted guitar, with the organ noodling behind it, is so strong, to my ears, that I almost don’t need anything else. And then—bonus!—the first riff transitions into a secondary riff (0:22), on a janglier guitar, and now I really don’t need anything else.
But as luck would have it, there is yet more. I like how the song manages to be simultaneously bludgeony and melodic—not an easy accomplishment, but Gross Relations’ singer Joey Weber is a big Ramones fan so I guess he knows how to do it. And the cool thing is he may dig the Ramones but aside from the loud, thick sound and the strong melody this doesn’t really sound anything like the Ramones. Big Star via Guided By Voices, maybe. And, no, you can’t hear Weber distinctly, but this is one of those lucky instances in which the singer’s overall incomprehensibility adds to the charm of the piece. I’d say the muddiness is less a production technique than a distinct strategy, embodied not just in the singing and the instrumental sounds (there are distortion pedals at work here, even on the organ) but in the song’s very structure, which disguises what is a normally constructed song (verse/chorus/verse/chorus/instrumental/bridge/chorus) by blurring the verse and chorus and building the bridge as a kind of chorus extension. Cool stuff, and wrapped up in 2:39.
Gross Relations is a relatively new Brooklyn-based foursome. “When You Go Down” is from their six-song Come Clean EP, the band’s first non-single release, and, as it happens, the first release for Raven Sings the Blues Records, an offshoot of the blog of the same name. MP3 via the label.