So, the other day I had an hour to kill and I always spend that time checking out the mailbag. The next disc in a stack that’s way too large for a single pair of ears is called, Stephanie’s ID. I think, what a horrible name for a band. Then I realize it’s not Stephanie’s I.D. its her id. Y’know, that part of Freud’s map of the psyche that is based on the pleasure principle, rather than on reality or compromise. The id wants what it wants. And then I think, what a great name for a band!
Part quirky, part pop, just like 90s altrock redhead goddess Tori Amos, Grus americanus is full of soaring vocals and catchy hooks, odd and thoughtful lyrics, and clever gymnastics. From one song to the next, singer Stephanie Morgan’s voice morphs from Edie Brickell to Tori to Natalie Merchant, while the music goes from hipsway to spacey psychedelia. Hey Hey Hey (It’s Gonna Be OK) could easily be a Macy Gray song, with its slow grinding groove and soulful crying harmonies. Ditto Unmistakably Love. But then Blue approaches Fiona Apple, what with its angry spoken words and tough guitar-heavy riffs punctuated by tight drum rolls. Cold Cold spits on Xtina and her ilk, while Cindy makes an attempt at Melissa Etheridge rock and roll.
I admit that I was scared of this album at first. I didn’t expect to like it. But it’s been growing on me with each listen, to the point where there’s a fair chance it will end up somewhere on my end-of-the-year-best-of lists.
Grus americanus is the Asheville band’s third release, and their first on Nine Mile Records. It releases nationally on Sept. 11, 2007 (on iTunes, among other major outlets). You should buy it instead of the crap that 50 and Kanye are bound to spit out.