Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
Toronto’s Greys prefer to keep things simple with the descriptors, calling themselves a “loud rock band,” and despite an itch for more adjectives and sub-genres, when it boils down to it, that’s exactly what they are.
It’s clear from the first few bars of their new EP, Ultra Sorta (out now via Concession Records), that their influences mine ’80s American punk as much as the rolling punk rock ‘n’ roll that local royalty Burning Love lay ferocious and skillful claim to. There are riffs, and they are thick, but there are also some perfectly jagged progressions; on “Simple Living,” a fractured art-punk jam, the blistering sing-shout delivery—especially in the chorus (is it even a chorus?)—sounds like it was taken straight from Fugazi’s In On the Kill Taker (and more specifically, taken straight from “Smallpox Champion.” This is definitely OK with us.)
Vocalist Shehzaad Jiwani’s intensity is not only consistent with but critical to the post-hardcore edge Greys toe so precisely. On “Black Lodge” (streaming above), atonal guitar-scratch breakdowns are headed off by the most straightforward vocal melody you’ll hear on the EP; from there it’s back into thick and fast riffing, only to drag the same arrangement through the sludge seconds later, finishing strong, and unexpectedly, with a guardedly tuneful, shoegaze-y outro—all in one song. Typical structure is thrown aside for an approach that sounds effortless in execution but grand, impressively so, in ambition. If you listen to one track on this EP, make it this one, but there are only five songs, so maybe listen to them all.
There are no wrong turns on this scenic route, and Ultra Sorta is at once direct and sprawling. Greys are upfront with their influences, so this may sound instantly familiar, but they’ve taken great care to mind the details and assemble something of their own to dig into as well.