For longtime fans of the psychedelic Southern California surf band, Particle Wave, and are particularly invested in the scene from which the band stems from, it may come as a surprise that frontman Greg Maechling is decidedly making an Americana EP the next addition to his catalog. Forgoing the thrills and frills of the surf scene, Maechling instead opts to craft an album for the contemplative in his latest project with the Granules, Answer to Influence.
In totally folksy poetic fashion, Maechling is answering to his own influences across the six songs present on this record, across hushed soundscapes more similar to Calexico and Dawes than the Mermen or Particle Wave. As the Greg and the Granules Bandcamp page bio would put it, this is an album birthed out of “a personal story of transition from the burdensome yoke of cynicism, to the freedom of unwavering gratitude.” – See? Poetic.
It helps, of course, that Maechling is backed up by his Granules, Nick Luca and Joe Westerlund. Both of these guys have their own extensive catalog, extending to work with Iron & Wine and Neko Case, and Califone and Grandma Sparrow, respectively, for the producer/multi-instrumentalist and the drummer. Furthermore, Maechling credits sound engineer Tyler Shields and designer Amanda Brauer as those who have completed his Granules in this iteration of the band, on this particular record.
Together, the five of them have pieced together a record that feels like San Diego and Appalachia all rolled into one. Maechling could never escape his individualistic vocal ticks and style that are more associated with his foray in the world of psych surf, and certain choices of instrumentation reflect a Latin influence more synonymous with California, such is the case on opener ‘Somebody Else’. Furthermore, however, multiple pages from the Heartland songbook have also been taken into account, making sure to develop an altogether layered and hushed affair that astoundingly might be able to be best compared to the incredulity of Seth Avett as Darling—especially on the carnival flair of ‘Midway Offer’.
When all is said and done, what it comes down to is that Maechling has successfully—effortlessly, even—moved well beyond his traditional comfort zone in order to release something truly unique when held not just against the overall modern music scene, but amongst his own vibrant catalog.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm