PLAYLIST: Greys Soundtrack Their Own Cerebral Psych Cinema
The Toronto post-hardcore outfit tease their cinematic fourth album with a wildly diverse track list of influences.
Greys came up in the same chilly Toronto post-punk scene as PUP and METZ—and while they once conjured the unhinged energy of the former, and the intimidating aggression of the latter, there isn’t a single ode to D.C. post-hardcore icons on their latest release, Age Hasn’t Spoiled You. Instead, their fourth LP smacks of something like linearity in lieu of their traditional infectious pop hooks.
“At the outset of writing this record, we talked about expanding our sound to incorporate a lot of different things that we were into beyond the standard guitar-based stuff we founded our band on, like dub, psych, ambient, drone, jazz, or hip-hop,” explains frontman Shehzaad Jiwani. “I tried to find a common denominator between artists as disparate as Horace Andy, Public Enemy, and Vangelis.”
With Vangelis as a reference, it’s easier to read Age as a cinematic experience: the tracks are longer, the refrains fewer. The latest single, “Kill Appeal,” is underlined by a synthy buzz, its relatively brief three minutes sounding like a tense scene of mounting suspense before unwinding into a free jazz sax solo. There’s even a song called “Shelley Duvall in Three Women.”
“The connective tissue I saw in relation to our sound was tension, impact, and scope,” Jiwani continues. “I wanted our record to be cinematic, psychedelic, and cerebral in equal measure to reflect the things I enjoyed about the artists we love, and I wanted it to be an album you could listen to on headphones while baked out of your mind. Thus, here is our Cerebral Psych Cinema playlist of tunes that fit that bill.”
Age Hasn’t Spoiled You is out May 10 on Carpark Records. You can pre-order it here.
Beastie Boys, “Pass The Mic”
While not exactly the first thing anyone thinks about as any of the adjectives used in the name of this playlist, the Beasties’ approach to making Check Your Head was a huge influence for us. The way they sampled their own playing and incorporated tons of different styles onto the record—but still kept it focused and unquestionably their own—was a major stepping stone.
Public Enemy, “Brothers Gonna Work It Out”
I don’t know many drum beats that are as immediately evocative as the Bomb Squad’s stacked breaks. The second that kick drum comes in, you can picture a riot going on. I annoyed everyone around me with my PE obsession the entire time we were tracking this album.
There’s probably not a more cerebral or cinematic hip-hop record in existence than Liquid Swords. Its creepy, sparse, haunting beats and vivid imagery was a key influence on songs like “Constant Pose” and “Shelley Duvall in 3 Women.”
Jonny Greenwood, “Henry Plainview”
I must have watched The Master, like, thirty times while writing this record. I kept telling people the album sounded like if PT Anderson directed a skate video when they asked about it. This tune, with its strings bending toward one note, was how I envisioned our guitar feedback sounding.
Crosby, Stills & Nash, “You Don’t Have to Cry”
I think we all got really into this record around the time we started tracking the album for some reason, and the harmonies definitely shine through on songs like “These Things Happen” and “Western Guilt.” Stephen Stills seems like such a loser, though.
Sonic Youth, “I Love You Golden Blue”
To be honest, SY has always been a ginormous influence on me, but the late period records like A Thousand Leaves, Sonic Nurse, and Murray Street really stood out during the writing process. There’s something so calming yet unsettling about their Jim O’Rourke records, probably never more apparent than on this show-stopping tune.
Massive Attack, “Man Next Door”
I can probably attribute my dub kick to this song. I was hooked on Horace Andy’s voice for a long time, but none of his old recordings have the widescreen feel of this reworking of a John Holt song.
The Chemical Brothers, “Let Forever Be”
There is something kind of charming about the late ’90s take on ’60s psychedelia, like Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger” or all those Fruitopia ads. This song really nails the blissed-out feel of those Summer of Love records with the giant drums of the electronica era. Plus, it’s the best song Noel Gallagher ever wrote.
Autolux is the best sounding live band I have ever heard. Their records sound unbelievable, and this song was a great springboard for achieving this big, driving guitar sound, but still sounding expansive and colorful. They’re a rock band that doesn’t sound like a rock band, and that’s exactly what we were going for on this album.
Spiritualized, “I Think I’m in Love”
Truthfully, I would have put a Spacemen 3 song on here instead, but they aren’t on Spotify. That said, you can’t get more cinematic than Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. That record is probably near the apex of expensive ’90s production. The way you can hear every little thing that’s going on was a big takeaway for me.
Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow, “The Alien”
We are huge Portishead fans, and we were all blown away by Geoff Barrow’s work on the Annihilation score. The scene at the end with Natalie Portman’s character is so stunning and staggering, and those synth sounds are just perfect. All of the rumbly synth bass sounds on our record were in some way us trying to emulate that.
Neil Young, “On The Beach”
In a weird way, the last song on our record, “Static Beach,” was kind of like a post-apocalyptic reimagining of this song, similar to the last scene of Annihilation. I wanted to hear something like this but with Sonic Youth guitars and an ominous, disorienting synth drone. Mission accomplished?