The Gantry - Years and Years
Producer: Brandon Wilde
Label: Independent Release
Release Date: November 10, 2012
Hometown: Astoria, NY
The Gantry's Years and Years has an unquestionable moxie. It's a steaming cauldron of all the right ingredients and a delve deeper will unearth potential for the perfect recipe. In a few years the band can easily stand beside giants like The Menzingers, The Fratellis, or The Gaslight Anthem.
At first glance, the tracks don't seem to be overly poppy or infectious, and they aren't, but over the past month certain tracks ("Confessions," "Doors," and "Click" namely) have sown their way into my head at the most random times. The album is chock full of crowd pleasing sing a longs and engaging hooks, all with a tinge of southern rock flavor. Guitarist / vocalist Kevin Goldhahn's voice and Jeff Kay's lead guitar are a fierce combination. The vocals (reminiscent of The Menzingers' Greg Barnet) are loose and free while the guitar is razor sharp.
Boy, can The Gantry write a chorus. "Mary" starts off flowing calmly before busting into a toe-tapping waterfall with Goldhahn belting: "And Mary marry me / it's been gone for five long / years and years and years... / and I will miss your face one day / in years and years and years." Opener "Six Pack" is just as impressive as "Mary." Its "oooh" lined choruses are only outshined by a bridge which Goldhahn introduces ("Take another down / and blow it all to hell as you go for a ride") before the song travels to a minute long jaunt led by Kay's gentle plucking.
After "Six Pack" the album takes a sudden turn into "Henry," a quieter, lyric driven ballad. The notable bridge mentions: "I said it once a lot and I stand by every word / I loved you like a brother and I’m down if I gotta burn / Henry the fault was mine there’s no need to be polite / said things that I shouldn’t and it keeps me up at night / if you find it in you heart to forgive just one thing I do / I’ll be home at seven." I asked Kevin to expand upon the story behind "Henry."
I wrote Henry when I was going through a rocky patch with a close friend. Coincidentally, I saw some other friends going through similar situations and writing Henry was just kind of an easy way to cope with it and analyze the situation. My specific friendship worked out, thankfully, but I saw some good friendships break up over silly things and Henry is about wanting to make amends.
The Gantry would be nothing without Jeff Kay's signature guitar work. He shines most notably in "Doors," "Green Eyes" and "Click" but he's present in every song. I asked him about his influences and style as a guitarist:
My guitar heroes are George Harrison, Jeff Buckley, Jimmy Page, Jim James, Dean Deleo, Kirk Hammett, Will McLaren (just to name a few). When we're on tour and I'm not driving I try to mess around on the fretboard to keep my fingers moving. Before shows I generally have a sandwich and a beer, and stretch out my hands.
Even in the album's weak spots, like the slowly moving mid section of "Broken Glass" and "Trouble," the music never gets unforgettable. The album almost plays out theatrically, with a natural depression between major plot points. The pacing is there, but I did find myself migrating towards certain sections.
The folky, vocal driven anthem "Doors" opens with the whole band singing: "Doors left open in the rain ruin the things you own / like letting too much in causes your head to roam / I had an open mind before the floor boards they groaned." Reminiscent of Cassino's Kingprince, "Doors" whistles and winds between bucolic guitar twangs. It's this folky, acoustic sound where The Gantry shines the most. I asked Kevin to expand on the sound of the album, especially the southern influences. He blew it wide open for me.
There are probably two major influences for the southern twang in the album. One, which you already know, is being heavily influenced by my cowboy grandpa (Dick Thomas) and growing up listening to my dad and uncle. They loved Tom Petty, Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie, The Kinks, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young, The Doors, Zeppelin, etc… The second is probably mostly to do with a collective of singer songwriters in New York City called Big City Folk which is run by this amazing singer songwriter named Niall Connolly. It was at one of his open mics that I was inspired to start taking music seriously again. Like I said, Big City Folk is composed of mostly singer song writers so I was originally very inspired to write more folk/country songs. I went to Niall’s songs clubs every week religiously until I had songs that I thought were good enough to record. I respected everyone in the Big City Folk scene so much I just wanted to write something that would hopefully impress them. When The Gantry started it was originally just Jeff, Tim and I singing harmonies and jamming on our acoustic guitars because we didn’t know how to start a band (haha). As things progressed, however, we just started naturally sliding towards a more “Rock” and full band sound. Adam Knobloch, our current drummer, joined the band last year right after the album was finished and he adds a lot of “Rock” to The Gantry. Our next album is definitely going to be a lot heavier with him on board and also because we just feel a lot more comfortable as a band.
Closing pair "Click" and "Confessions" were late bloomers for me. The onomatopoeiac former highlights the best of the band: guitar licks, a catchy chorus, and perfect drums. The music video plays a great introduction for the band. Despite the catchy facets of the rest of the songs, "Confessions" always seemed to find its way into my head. It's an introspective look into falling out of love: "I got a confession to make I lied / I didn’t mean it when I said it and / I said it so many times / I thought you’d notice the spark in my eye / burn and fade out as all the world went by." It leaves the next album wide open. Will the melancholic verses of "Confessions" continue or is the ending of Years and Years the making of a brand new beginning? Whichever the case, I can promise you that The Gantry's follow up album will not disappoint. ...
Kevin mentioned his grandpa, Dick Thomas, who was a singing cowboy in the 40s. Check out his song "Sioux City Sue." I guarantee it'll be stuck in your head all day.
I asked Kevin the meaning behind the band name, to which he responded:
One of our first gigs was at this bar in Long Island City Queens called LIC Bar. There was a park right down the road called Gantry Park. We threw around the idea for a while about maybe calling ourselves The Gantry since it sounds like a really strong word and has multiple meanings ranging from a device used to move cargo on a ship dock to the over hanging structure that holds signs on a highway. We couldn’t really think of anything else to call ourselves and we were all really content and happy with The Gantry so we just ran with it. We also liked that it was short and only has two syllables haha.
These guys are a great band. I'd give vocals a 10 based on the three part harmonies alone. If you think these songs are good, the new ones that they play live but have yet to record set the bar even higher!