MP3: Grubby Little Hands – “Uneek”
Philly-based duo Grubby Little Hands produce atmospheric psych-pop with droning guitars, gargling samples, and hazy keys that range in tone from hazy organ pads to twinkling accompaniments. It results in a sound that would fit well in an aquatic paradise, where sounds of chaos from above can barely penetrate the space where water meets air. Grubby Little Hands are able to replicate a very peaceful sound, but life hasn’t been as tranquil the past few years for Donnie Felton and Brian Hall. Production on their debut album in 2008 was halted when Hall was stabbed in the abdomen by a homeless man, completely unprovoked. Hall’s recovery process was a difficult one, but Grubby Little Hands were back writing music the following year. Their debut was released in 2009 to a small yet devoted following, and they’ve been rising since then.
This past September, the duo started a new label caled Good Behavior to put out The Grass Grew Around Our Feet, their impressive sophomore album. The 6-track release is more cohesive and expansive than previous efforts, dipping into a wonderfully blended form of atmospheric pop and lush psych-folk. I love when young groups embrace ambition in their songwriting without fear of critical backlash. This is clearly a duo who aren’t concerned with wider perceptions, and their superb music has benefited from it. Opener “Uneek” rides on a backbone of bouncy keys and elongated guitar twangs as slurring vocals sound as if they’re treading backwards. It’s done in stark contrast to a tropical and upbeat chorus, where the vocals raise pitch over several key additions. This track bears a resemblance to several track on Animal Collective’s 2008 EP Water Curses, which I found to be one of their strongest releases. Consider it a very complementary comparison, to both the aquatic atmospheres and quality songwriting.
Rather than a swaying tropical paradise with bluer oceans than the sky, “Unring a Bell” sounds more fitted for ice caps with its steady and chilly key twinkle. It’s eventually uplifted by buzzing synths and reflective percussion that turns the track from understated beauty to infectiously gripping heights. The final minute is a briskly ingenious display of the duo’s electronic abilities, which have improved considerably with The Grass Grew Around Our Feet. From the tripped-out production to the striking atmospheres that remind of Disco Inferno and Animal Collective, The Grass Grew Around Our Feet is a highly recommended release.