The Gray Vines – Obscene


Power trios are all the rage again in guitar-driven music, likely a reflection of the specific energy level a three piece manifests as well as financial realities. There’s no feeling, however, that New Jersey’s The Gray Vines are together out of financial expediency – instead, they sound like an unit who were waiting to play with one another their entire lives and, now that they’ve come together at long last, are intent on making up for lost time. They play with a natural amount of energy that never gets too carried away with itself and, as a result, there’s a level of maturity you hear in even their rockiest moments that never entirely abandons coherent and considered treatment. Obscene’s five cuts are the fullest realization yet of The Gray Vines’ talents and one gets the distinct feeling that they’ve only just started.

They sound like the world’s at their feet with the opening tandem of songs. “See Me” is a rampaging punk rocker with real teeth and a startling first shot across the bow of the band’s second EP. Hoffman’s definitely got the pipes and attitude alike for this post-modern punk romp and the guitar work is a sharp cut above what you normally hear in such songs while still never sounding self indulgent. “Gotta Say” has even more attitude to burn, but it’s presented in a more theatrical manner that never oversteps its boundaries and doesn’t risk sounding pretentious, Instead, they work a lot of dynamics and color into what they do and it makes for a more effective use of the form. They are strong on the fundamentals, but never afraid to take risks.


Some of that risk taking nature comes across in the song “In Her World”. This is an even more creative use of their arranging abilities than we heard in earlier tunes while also emphasizing their vocal talents in a way the earlier tracks don’t quite reach. “Obscene”, the EP’s title song, gives drummer Jordan Bowen another opportunity to shine and his rhythm section partner Casey O’Connell locks in with him every step of the way; the energy they add to the song’s powerful chorus is an EP high point. The finale “You Don’t Know” dares to encapsulate everything memorable about the aforementioned four songs into another Jordan Bowen drum showcase with Hoffman’s terse guitar lines juxtaposing nicely against the vocal melody. The Gray Vines, already off to an extraordinarily promising start with their self titled 2017 EP, are ready to claim 2018 as their own with the release of this punchy follow up. It’s a TNT packed five pack of songs that will restore your faith in the undying voice of genuine rock and roll without ever making you smirk or feel self conscious. Jake Hoffman and his band mates do it right and that’s the reason so many are taking notice.


Michael Saulman