The Grey Race Get a Head Start


Artists (whether it be musicians, painters, or writers) are one of the only occupational groups who are expected to waiver on the eccentric side of things. After all, they are expressing their deepest emotions for a living. With your mind taking a beating, it could get to you once in a while. Failure could possibly cause you to intentionally chop off an ear like Van Gogh or even blast yourself away like Hemingway. But honestly, who actually believes that Van Gogh and Hemingway were artistic failures? There are only two people who would think so and that would be themselves. Still, you have to at least cut them some slack, as the self-hatred was most likely due to strenuous hype, expectations, and ceaseless thought disruption that the pressures of being an acclaimed artist brings to the table. Or could it possibly be that they were just too creative, eccentric, and innovative to handle so many human emotions at once? That overwhelming feeling must have been a blur for them, as attempting to transcribe that tidal wave of thoughts must have taken them hours of aimless pondering. Perhaps that is why it is rare to see a truly great artist produce work of any decent caliber past the age of sixty these days. Suicide, assassination, or a seat in the insane asylum is the likely destination for these rare prizes. Quite unfortunate, though it is to be expected with such a precedent set by our forefathers.

Jon Darling, the lead singer/songwriter/guitarist for Brooklyn’s The Grey Race, admits, “I get a kick out of things that are a little messed up.” Ah, Jon, traditionally that is the sign of an exceptional artist. For your sake, we can hope that your favoring of eccentric qualities are not too “messed up”. No one wants to end up in psychotherapy after all. That must all be nonsense when applied to Darling though, as his head appears to be fixated tightly on his shoulders if we were to judge solely from his music. Despite his tendency to be drawn to anything otherworldly and odd, Darling’s work with The Grey Race appears entirely mild, easily accessible, and aesthetically pleasing. Backed by the rhythm section of bassist Jeff Hill and drummer Ethan Eubanks, The Grey Race presents an enjoyable form of charming indie-pop that recalls influences both old and new, whether it be the suave tendencies of The Kinks or the atmospherically relaxing likeness to Rogue Wave or any other random lite-fi Sub Pop band. The trio seems comfortable throwing compliments around, as each appear to contribute quite evenly on their self-titled debut EP. Darling is apparently one of those types that truly gets off through melancholy songwriting, with the doom and gloom reigning over any glimpses of upbeat transitions. In fact, Darling credits Hill and Eubanks for steering the band in the right direction and away from the trio becoming the next over-emotional sullen band. “We’ve got this sweet-and-sour thing going on,” Darling said. “My stuff is pretty dark and moody, but Ethan and Jeff’s production brought a completely new dimension to it.”


Ethan Eubanks replies proudly to Darling’s compliment, stating that the band “loved Jon’s voice and envisioned this whole sound around him.” That being said, they did a hell of a job. You may be surprised to know that The Grey Race is simply three guys wit three instruments and a set of vocals. With little room for error, Darling, Hill, and Eubanks are near flawless instrumentally in immediately engaging tracks like “On The Chin”, an opener that sets a distinguishing tone through Darling’s lighthearted vocals and breezy acoustic melodies. Like many songs from The Grey Race, the chorus represents the meat and bones of the song, providing a captivating melody that is rivaled only by those who fear to tread in any and all forms of generic vulnerability. Though The Grey Race are based out of Brooklyn, Darling grew up in New Zealand and fell in love with songwriting after hearing The Cure’s “10:15 on a Saturday Night” on the radio. As easy as Robert Smith makes songs like that appear, it is impressive that Darling has followed his ambitions to create a truly memorable act worthy of more attention than which it has received.

For all The Zombies fans out there (I know you’re still out there), one of the most enjoyable songs on their self-titled EP is a cover of “Care of Cell 44”. Darling and friends even have the backing vocal melodies down pat, even if the string-laden bridge sounds a bit awkward and ineffective after a boisterous display of continuous guitar riffs and repetitious patterns. Regardless, it is a respectable cover of an underrated song by an even more underrated band in the legendary The Zombies. Darling’s aforementioned melancholy comes in through the clear in the chill-inducing acoustic thriller “Screaming’s Not An Option”, with the upbeat and optimistic rhythm section turning “Bottom” into a weightless track that is reminiscent of early Rosebuds, utilizing an electric approach over soft vocals and expertly integrated backing instrumentation. EPs usually leave little room for error with a sparse amount of tracks. Fortunately, The Grey Race’s self-titled EP has five tracks that are of agreeable quality to one another. If these songs are any indication of greatness to come, I am looking extremely forward to The Grey Race’s debut full-length due on September 11th.


The Grey Race – On The Chin



The Grey Race – Care of Cell 44 (Zombies cover)



The Grey Race – Screaming’s Not An Option



Official Web Site


Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

Send your music to [email protected].

1 Comment

  1. I’m always saddened when a band’s cover song sounds better than their other original songs. The Zombies cover is almost the same as the original, rendering it kind of pointless to cover as far as I’m concerned

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