REVIEW: GREENLAND IS MELTING – OUR HEARTS ARE GOLD, OUR GRASS IS BLUE (2009)
“And I know that I’ll always be alright, as long as I got them singing boys by my side. We drive from city to town still trying to figure out just what we have found.”
What has happened to Gainsville? Against Me! infuriated the purists with New Wave, and poor Less Than Jake has never quite recovered since Borders & Boundariessaw them decline by shedding ska little by little to the horrid pop punk of “Overrated (Everything Is)” of 2006 (granted, GNV FLA recognized this and reversed course, thankfully). Nevertheless, the scene was threatening to lose its more national punk appeal as the perennial chants of “sell-out” distracted punk faithful away from the brilliantly under-appreciated “Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart” duet of Tom and Tegan Quin. For those who have forgotten or have moved on from Florida, it’s time you pack that car and head south for the band to herald a homecoming for; Greenland is Melting.
Formed in 2007, Karl Seltzer, Shaun Pereira and Will Dueease take the roots of folk and punk that Gabel entangled so well, strips it of politics and crams it so full of bluegrass it threatens to bust Florida gator out of your speakers and into your living room. For good measure, their harmonies holler forth Irish punk in riling you up in lyrics on friends, sweethearts, and kitchens. Our Hearts are Gold, Our Grass is Blue opener “From City to Town” kicks in with a thumping, unassuming bass line and a banjo that grows humble as the acoustic guitar joins in. The vocal harmonies start up, and sound rather basic and nearly approaches sad bastard folk…until a “Threeee four!” is randomly interjected before the chorus. Slowing to a rolling stop, Shaun and Co. “woo” away before the album really busts out of the gates with the second track “No More Sorry Songs”…
To the wary and apprehensive, “No More Sorry Songs” may seem to be the pinnacle if you stop there. It’s swinging, boundless energy is contagious to warrant repeating. However “The Kitchen Song”, with its medium tempo and tempered focus away from Shaun, convinces the other vocals are no mere ornamentation thrown in. The comfort with which Greenland is Melting exudes shines through, with a bit of intentional tarnish (notice the slaps against the body of the guitar), reflects upon their lyrics declaring feeling more at home in kitchens and basements than being heard on the radio.
Only a couple songs are bogged down, due more so to their slower, woe-is-me balladry juxtaposed against the stomping, line dancing jaunts. The harmonies here are key, as one voice joins, and another fades. “No One Wants to Die,” built up with the introductory “Everyone Wants to Go to Heaven,” is as optimistic a song about “me poor girl” who’s “dead and gone,” yet the chorused singing wishes that “my love had died and set her soul to wander free.”
Ending Our Hearts are Gold, Our Grass is Blue, is “Wayfaring Stranger” with a rather unexpected electric bass replacing the upright. With a faint country element to the guitar, the song comes across as a dirge, weighed down by shackles of weariness and difficulty born by the three voices as they trudge forward. The reward for reaching the end comes in the form of “Blood on the Banjo.” The final track is the kind that you would gather up all your friends, and nearly any and all available acoustic stringed instruments that can’t escape fast enough, in the front room of an old weathered house for pure, folk-punky ruckus. Once again, an electric bass remains prominent, yet bookended by the steely banjo and a swiftly strummed guitar cajoling the listener to join in till callused fingers bleed.
Recorded by Rob McGregor, Greenland is Melting has within their three-piece and in this album eleven of the most romping tales of death, redemption and surely a bit of drinking. Our Hearts are Gold, Our Grass is Blue may be the best album to drive, singing and match harmonies regardless of the weird cityslicker looks you’d receive with folk-punk-bluegrass churning from your speakers. But hey, it’s their loss.