August 11th, 2011 | by CHRIS STAMM Music | Posted In: Columns, Upper Extremities

Upper Extremities #2: Happy Happy Happy All the Time

     
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As someone who regularly invites spells of melancholy into his fetid office-cum-vomitorium so that the plangent strains of Leonard Cohen or Elliott Smith might more swiftly sever his most vital psychic veins—as one of those sad flagellants for whom a mood is an excuse for a soundtrack, I mean—I have long longed for extreme (loud, punk, metal, noise, whatever) music that suits my particular brand of sadness. I just want a few soul-crushing, ear-shattering tunes behind which I might hide an existential snot bubble or two while convincing the world within earshot that I am not a Wes Anderson character.

Yes, there are a number of top-notch pop-punk songs to turn to in my times of need. Trust that I have leaned on the Descendents' “Jean is Dead” and the Misfits' “Last Caress” and the Ramones' “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World” and Screeching Weasel's “Celena” and Green Day's “One for the Razorbacks” countless times in the last fifteen years, but there are dark-ass nights of the soul for which songs about romantic (and/or necrophiliac) love are ill-suited.

In short: life can be immensely scary and intensely sad, and I occasionally need music that reflects the kind of grief that a more pious man might call God.

But no: I'm not ready to accept Rozz Williams as my lord and savior.

And so: I always have an ear to the ground for the solace of the steamroller.

Long story longer: I will forever be on the lookout for more bands like Griever, a San Diego outfit specializing in the rare form of heavy music that makes me want to bedazzle my mother's bosom with tears. I have heard only two songs by this band, but I can tell you, after listening to those two songs on repeat for the last three days, that the eight minutes and fourteen seconds of Griever with which I am familiar are more than worthy of your snotty sobs, your dry heaves of despair, your self-loathing whatchamacallits. Look at the band name, for fuck's sake! It is a veritable imploration: listen to us before you do anything drastic, please, okay? (Warning: Disregard other Grievers Google might lead you to, lest your time of need finds you seeking tea and sympathy from an Australian band that sounds like Incubus.)

Griever is what might have happened to Sunny Day Real Estate if Jeremy Enigk had developed an unhealthy crush on Eyehategod instead of a wholesome taste for Christ. Which, come to think of it, is a fair description of almost everything Ebullition and similarly sensitive labels released in the '90s, but I recently chased a Mohinder craving into a YouTube shame spiral, and let me tell you: nothing I found in the vault moved me like these eight minutes and fourteen seconds by Griever.

Something about this band, which has roots in the considerably speedier Lewd Acts, puts me in mind of Harvey Milk's searing dirges--the vocals seem similarly abraded by Nyquil abuse, and, as previously mentioned, this stuff sounds like it was recorded with beard hair hanging over the microphones in lieu of windscreens--but Griever is downright peppy next to that Georgia monster. I'm nominating both "pop-sludge" and "sludge-punk" as built-for-Griever descriptors here, as these terms evoke a sadness that can, with the help of some very strong weed, be transformed into hope.

Not that I would know anything about any of that. I just have something in my eye.

HEAR IT: Griever at Bandcamp

SEE IT: Griever plays with Southern Lord's hardcore newcomers Baptists TONIGHT—Thursday, Aug. 11—at the Alleyway. 8:30 pm. $7.

 
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