Grassfight - Icon, EP2
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: July 24, 2012
"The clouds are animals, if you want them to be. They are lions and sheep. Circling into your sleep and fogginess down the icy slope. Am I supposed to leave you now?"
The New York City indie rock trio Grassfight made a seminal splash on the blogosphere with last fall's Icon EP, a release that was praised by the likes of My Old Kentucky Blog, CMJ, The Deli and RCRD LBL. The native Texans had an inherent ability to craft goth-rock that dabbled in both shoegaze, post-punk and psychedelia. And now, there's the follow up. Icon, EP2 is arguably the best EP released this year and veritable proof that New York City has a major contender on their hands. In just five short cuts, there's nary a dud and each song bristles with energy, charisma and confidence.
The opener "Look Homeward, Heathen," is a dense, dark and driving rocker that kicks and spits with ferocity, melody and armfuls of energy. Vocalist Nathan Forster's hazy delivery is buzzy, bristling and nothing short of stunning. He has an innate ability to draw you in, while guitars wail, drums kick and the bass bounces. Of all the openers heard this year, there may not be one nearly as indelible as this.
"Nassau," is anchored by Nathan Forster's languorous vocals and jittery guitars. While it is not nearly as hard-charging or no-holds-barred as "Look Homeward, Heathen," it is decidedly more accessible and only further proof that this band is on the precipice of something truly extraordinary.
Those sentiments are elucidated in "Until You Sleep (Icy Slope)," a brooding, despondent and near-perfect slice of melancholia a la Nick Cave or The National. Employing restraint, the song accomplishes volumes with just Forster's distinct and transcendent vocals and a brittle guitar line. If Icon EP2 has an anchor, then this is most assuredly it.
"Hailey," revisits the urgency of the EP's first two efforts and keeps things moving forward briskly. The guitars ring and shimmer and the result is truly post-punk heaven. This is danceable brooding indie-rock that is incredibly compelling, lingering and inarguably complex.
The EP ends with "Rhodendron," in which the trio snarls and hisses in a moody, angry and downright dark manner that makes the EP that much more rewarding. Sure the songs are great when they are punchy, polished and pretty, but when the energy and ethos is this raw and this honest, it is even more atonishing and harder to turn away from.
Hot damn, they whipped it with a belt. God bless Texas.