Album review: THE GRAND – The Rebel Son

The Grand - Rebel Son

Self release [Release date 15.03.14]

The Grand hail from British Columbia Canada, but they play a very commercial brand of southern influenced rock with a big production.  Their bristling style comes with a layered sound and impossibly catchy hooks, topped by vocalist Dallas Norrie whose range and phrasing dominates the album.

As their own PR suggests, with a name like The Grand there can be no half measures. Their 6 track debut immediately plunges into an enveloping wall of sound, insistent percussion, a momentary drop-down and booming hook.

Given all his happens within the first 45 seconds of the opening ‘Boondock Crew’, someone has clearly given this project a great deal of thought. This seems further evidenced by the presence of industry heavy-weights Randy Staub (Nickelback and AC/DC) and Mark Needham (The Killers/Fleetwood Mac) in the mixing process.

But unlike so many of their contemporaries The Grand boasts cross-genre quality songs, boosted by big arrangements that are ignited by a ripping band who warrant attention.

The Grand comprises the big vocals of Dallas Norrie, the fiery guitars and deep tones of Anthony Fiddler and Ryan Stead and the aggressive rhythm section of James Hrankowski and drummer Neil Morgan.

They mix of alt. rock with southern roots rock and radio friendly commercial indie pop. It’s a blend that could make some cynics quickly turn away, but they won’t because ‘The Rebel Son’ is simply too good to ignore.

Sure the band are almost too perfect at times,  as the hooks are telegraphed, the quiet-to-loud dynamics are obvious and the ever present slight pause before the delivery of the chorus and their perfunctory endings eventually lose their impact, but there’s no escaping the quality of the songs.

‘Rebel Son’ for example, opens with a portentous piano line, distant slide and Dallas’s guttural grunt, as the band launches into a southern anthem with Celtic mandolin edges. They cross over southern influenced rock with a catchy commercial bent that is familiar enough to hit the spot immediately.

If ‘Rebel Son’ is their anthem, then ‘Back Roads’ is their centre piece, as Dallas’s exclamatory “c’mon” launches the band into a feverish hook with a mandolin lined Celtic edge, while his emotive vocals evoke The Spin Doctors to give the song an undeniable uplifting feel.

By the time of ‘Me Or The Bottle’ they are almost in danger of becoming a little too predictable – the opening verse sounds a little too close to Craig David – but they rise again on the banjo led rocker ‘Raise Your Glass’ and there’s no denying the sheer vitality of the songs, the enveloping melodies and the sing-along hooks.

They finish with ‘Quicksand’, a beautifully sung duet of real depth, substance and commercial potential. And if Dallas and Shylo Sharity performance broaches MOR, they derive enough emotion from the song to rise above the mundane.

‘The Rebel Son’ will unquestionably make a big splash. The question is whether the Grand will to live up to their name and push on, or just content themselves with a rock solid formula that will bring them much deserved attention in the first place?  ****½

Review by Pete Feenstra

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