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For the Season - EP (Digital Only)

The Gris Gris

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Album Review

Surrounded in an even thicker haze of psychedelic smoke than the Gris Gris' self-titled debut, For the Season is an unabashedly ambitious, occasionally difficult album that traces a journey to the deepest, darkest recesses of Greg Ashley's mind. Right off the bat, For the Season aims high, beginning with a six-song suite that not only encompasses the Gris Gris' chiaroscuro interplay of cavernous, ominous rock and light, dreamy folk (witness the contrast between "Cuerpos Haran Amor Extrano" and "Down with Jesus") but also throws in heady free jazz elements on "Ecks Em Eye" for good measure. Given its conceptual framework, For the Season might arguably be a more cohesive album than the Gris Gris' debut, but its individual songs aren't always quite as strong; as much atmosphere as "The Nonstop Tape" — which sounds like field recordings from a haunted house full of hippie ghosts — and "Skin Mass Cat" lend, they don't necessarily make for consistently compelling listening. Still, it's hard to deny the anthemic power of "Year Zero" or the quirky sweetness of "Medication #4," which mixes an innocent, '50s rock-style waltz with acid rock organs. The last handful of songs on For the Season help make up for any earlier impenetrability: "Pick Up Your Raygun" mines the dark psych-rock of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It, Black" and sounds both fresh and classic, while "Mademoiselle of the Morning" is a charming, unpretentious love song complete with rattling background noises that add to its off-the-cuff feel. "For the Season" itself closes the album with an epic flourish, moving from a lighthearted mood to a dark, Eastern-inspired climax and then returning to its gentler beginnings. While the album's ambitions occasionally get the better of the actual music, For the Season's intermittent brilliance is worth digging and waiting for.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

The Gris Gris — named after a particularly powerful voodoo spell that can be used for great good or great harm, a Dr. John album, and New Orleans slang for drugs — is the brainchild of Greg Ashley, a Texas-born singer/multi-instrumentalist inspired by his home state's legendary garage-psych. While still in his teens, Ashley formed the Mirrors, who released a vinyl-only debut album in 2001. Two years later, the band's second album, 13 Patient Flowers, pointed the way toward Ashley's increasingly...
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For the Season - EP (Digital Only), The Gris Gris
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