Americana seems all the rage at the moment. It’s easy to understand why, music consumers are becoming ever more tired of the fake hype that is produced with the arrival of every ‘alternative’ band onto the front page of the NME. Records like Grain, Treecreeper’s debut, allow for a more realistic approach to music and life – you may not like it but at least the artists actually feel for the music and are not caught up in some cocaine and NME inspired (mis)belief in themselves.
Treecreeper are formed of brothers Will and Greg Burns and childhood friend Steve Blackwood and Steven Masters. They originally come from Wendover, Buckinghamshire but after digesting Grain it feels as if they could have come from the rust belt in the USA. Wearing their influences proudly on their sleeves, Treecreeper have recorded an album which draws unashamedly from the cannon of REM, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Neil Young and Dinosaur Jnr. But this is no bad thing, there are worse bands to be influenced by. One thing that is for sure is that if you are a fan of the aforementioned acts, then you will love Grain.
Let’s get one thing clear first, none of these songs would work at a birthday party or a wedding. Where these songs would work are on rainy days, when a relationship has broken down, when you feel like you just can’t keep on keepin’ on in this hectic 24-hour a day world. In short, for when you feel like shit and sadistically want to wallow in your own emotional pain.
Opener ‘Debris’ is representative of the whole album. Musically upbeat with a grungy element to it, the song is downbeat lyrically, with a certain melancholy vibe to it. ‘Subside’ uses fiddle and acoustic guitar to give the song some texture and it is brilliantly layered musically. A great harmonica solo at the end gives it a solo-Bruce Springsteen edge. Possibly the standout track on the album.
‘Feel No Pain’ is a celebration of coming through hard times and again is grunge-tinged. The instrumental ‘Jeremaid’ has a great riff throughout and with liberal use of harmonica and pedal steel is a great country rock song. Finally, ‘Gallows’ is a more reflective song and one can clearly feel emotional pain as singer Will Burns pours his heart and soul into the track.
What Grain offers is introspective and sometimes downbeat songs which may make this album difficult to listen to at first, however perseverance reveals fully rewarding songs, offering a sad-melancholy vibe which is unrivalled in the current popular music scene. If you’re feeling gloomy then Grain could and should be one of the first records to turn to. Comes highly recommended.