November 2nd, 2011 | by CHRIS STAMM Music | Posted In: Upper Extremities, Columns

Upper Extremities #14: Falling in Love with GrandFather

Chris Stamm's weekly punk column gets old.

     
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One of the cool things about writing about music in a part-time capacity is that I don’t have to write about music in a full-time capacity. This means I have time to explore my other interests, which are, in descending order of importance: whiskey. But because music cannot claim me as its full-time slave, and since I cast such a wide net into the teeming night of arts and culture, amazing bands sometimes slip through the cracks. Of my net. Because my net has cracks. Deal with it.

Crack-loving case in point: Portland’s fantastic GrandFather, who I am only just now getting into. And by getting into I mean falling so madly in love with that I just found out where everyone in the band works so I can more efficiently stalk them.

I know I’ve seen GrandFather’s name around. I’m not quite sure why I never used the old Google machine to scope the scene. Perhaps it was the whiff of “Grandaddy cover band” hovering about the name. Or maybe I was reminded of my own grandfather, a stoic German man for whom music is naught but a distraction from being stoically German. Boner killer, that old coot. 

Whatever. I’ll settle on a flimsy excuse for my tardiness later. The point is this: GrandFather is one of the best punk bands in Portland, and its recently released album, Stand in the Corner & Punch Yourself in the Face to Have a Good Time, is a thing of careening, fire-breathing beauty.


GrandFather's Stand in the Corner & Punch Yourself in the Face

I’m about to date myself here, and not in that good throw-myself-a-bubble-bath-and-champagne-party way, but in that obnoxious I’ve-been-listening-to-punk-records-for-half-my-life-so-let-me-prove-it way. Like this: Although the fresh-faced yoots in GrandFather look like they just dropped out of high school, their sound is deeply indebted to certain spastic strains of ‘90s punk, from the damaged stuff coughed up by bands of the “post-hardcore” or “screamo” variety to the slightly more menacing creations of “powerviolence” and “grindcore” acts.

I am throwing quotation marks around those genre tags because I’m not quite sure what such labels denote these days, but here’s what I’m thinking when I use them to describe GrandFather’s sound: the unhinged loveliness of Swing Kids; In/Humanity’s ferocious “emo violence”; the wild grind explorations of Human Remains; and Mohinder’s nervous breakdowns.

This is not to say GrandFather is some paint-by-numbers throwback act. A slavish simulation of some bygone golden moment wouldn’t be half as thrilling as Stand in the Corner, which hums with the heat of four guys pushing their abilities to the limits. Miller Reda’s vocals range from screeches to strangled barks to guttural threats; Alec van Staveren’s bass darts and bounces like a skittish squirrel; Parker Johnson’s guitar slaloms between no-wave noodling and strung-out clanging; and Sam Pape’s drumming is a simply stunning display of all-over-the-place indomitability.

Stand in the Corner & Punch Yourself in the Face to Have a Good Time is a riveting listen, an exhausting and exhilarating twenty minutes of expertly managed turbulence. It came out in August, which means I have been letting you all down for over two months now. I am sorry. You should have had this puppy in your earholes weeks ago. I won’t let it happen again. I mean, I totally will let it happen again, but I’ll feel pretty bad when I do. No I won’t. Just listen to GrandFather and leave me alone.

LISTEN HERE

Grandfather plays with Cursebreaker and the Love Below at The Know on Tuesday, Nov. 8. 8pm. $5.

 
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