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Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains

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Album Review

Following his short run with Death from Above 1979, Sebastien Grainger opted to take the solo route, nixing his former band's hip-hop and punk influences for a combination of swaggering dance rock (think Head Automatica without the trashy glitz) and singer/songwriter material. "Love Is Not a Contest" is a genuine piano ballad, featuring Grainger's earnest, processed vocals and keyboard flourishes from the Stills' Liam O'Neil. The bulk of this debut record, however, devotes itself to danceability and sweaty fun. More polished and less frantic than the Death from Above catalog, Grainger's solo material prizes melodies above everything else, although it also finds ample room for the instruments (namely the guitar) that DFA's limited lineup left out. These 12 songs are still beefy and bass-heavy — they were written by a drummer, after all — but the emphasis isn't on rhythm as much as the hook. What's truly appealing about Grainger's solo effort is the fun he's obviously having, particularly during songs like the '80s-flecked "Renegade Silence," where he sings in a Prince-influenced coo atop a bed of synthesizers and thumping bass drum. Jesse Keeler may have rebounded from the sinking Death from Above ship faster than Grainger, but this album still gives Keeler's new project, MSTRKRFT, a run for its money.


Born: 11 April 1979 in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Before launching a solo career in 2008, Toronto native Sebastien Grainger found an audience as the drum-playing vocalist of Death from Above 1979. The group's sweaty mix of punk, hip-hop, and dance was chronicled on two albums (one of them a remix record) before Grainger split with bandmate Jesse F. Keeler in 2006. Keeler went on to form MSTRKRFT, while Grainger tackled several new projects, the first of which saw him issuing dance singles under the alias "The Rhythm Method." He then signed with...
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Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains, Sebastien Grainger
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