Brooklyn’s Gross Relations’ myspace page lists Richard Hell and the Voids, The Ramones, and other quintessential punk/garage rock bands as influences. Those bands’ impact clearly echoes in Gross Relations’ fuzzy, lo-fi sound. But Gross Relations also add a surprise electric pop element via singer Joey’s upbeat keyboard melodies.
The song “You Don’t Know Me” follows the more traditional 70′s garage route with distorted vocals and hazy guitar riffs. One thing making it stand out against the other numerous bands executing a similar sound is Joey’s rich baritone. It adds an element of shrewdness and distinguishes them from the more boyish vocals populating the current scene.
I was fully expecting their other songs to follow in the vein of “You Don’t Know Me”, so I was slightly taken aback and excited when I heard the upbeat and dancey elements on “Don’t Beat On Me”. The mix of steady drums, catchy guitars, and synth elements immediately made me smile and happily nod my head along. Besides just being a well-executed pop song, it revealed that they have more up their sleeve then just fuzzed out guitars and cymbal crashes. Gross Relations keeps things fairly simply in terms of lyrics, pretty much just repeating “don’t beat on me” throughout the song, but it works. They seem to have grasped an important element of good pop and punk, which is simplicity. Often time bands forget this and overcompensate with contrived sounds and/or lyrics.
At the moment they are only playing in the New York area, but if you happen to be near Mercury Lounge on Halloween be sure to check out their show. Hopefully they will go on an extended tour when their 7″ Fuzzy Timelines drops November 11 so the rest of us can get the opportunity to see their foot-taping tunes live.
By: Stephanie Glass