By Dominique MinorClassic rock made a comeback in the mid-2000's with an emerging group of bands who wanted bring rock-and-roll back to a time of arena anthems, tight pants, and machismo. While bands, such as The Darkness and Wolfmother became quintessential poster-boys for the vintage revival, multi-racial power trio Greyhound quietly formed bringing forth their hard-rocking music, unique image, and a loud message to the rock-and-roll landscape: "Rock your faces, mix the races."
The band got its start in the spring of 2002 with the collaboration of singer/songwriters Matt Whyte and Kamara Thomas in Brooklyn, the burgeoning borough of hipness. At the time, the pair played as a piano and guitar duo. As they began writing material, the two developed a desire to expand their sound into a hard rock trio. Whyte picked up an electric guitar, and Thomas swapped her piano for a bass. They named the group Earl Greyhound; a tongue-in-cheek wordplay a Earl Grey British tea and American-based Greyhound bus service. That name is fitting considering their aural amalgamation of 1970's English rock and NYC-cool. In 2004, without a permanent drummer, the band released a self-produced demo, Earl Greyhound- EP. Finally, after playing with a slew of drummers, including Grizzly Bear's Chris Bear, Whyte and Thomas found their perfect match when Ricc Sheridan joined them in 2006. Later that year, the trio released its first full-length album, Soft Targets.
Earl Greyhound's sound relies heavily on the styling of Cream, T. Rex, and Black Sabbath. Led Zeppelin has also been oft-cited comparison the band has gotten in reviews. This can also be said about band leader Matt Whyte whose white-boy croon is one part Scott Weiland, and two parts Lenny Kravitz. His long locks, svelte physique, and affinity for going shirtless onstage is evocative of a 1970's Robert Plant. After one listen to the turned-up-to-11 stoner jam "S.O.S." the foundation each band member has built by their studying classic rock forefathers is evident. Tinges of Jimmy Page's influence can be heard on tracks like the arena-ready "I'm The One" and "All Better Now." Unlike many bands in the classic rock revival circuit, Earl Greyhound plays a brand of vintage-inspired rock without being forced in eccentricity or irony. As a guitarist, Whyte knows when to pull back the noodling before it becomes self-indulgent or masturbatory. The riff-tastic snarl and shifting time-signature of the 8-minute-plus "Monkey" never ventures into over-long progressive rock. The band's never-cheated jams are never transparent or overly-derivative of their retro influences.
Their rare sonic intelligence to create slam-you-in-face rock without alienating listeners in a dense wall of sound can be heard on the low-bucket grit of "Fashion." Pounding out the thunderous cymbal fills, Sheridan uses his tree trunk-sized arms to beat his drumkit like it owes him money. Sporting an old school Pam Grier-sized 'fro and trademark fringed boots, Thomas holds down the low-end, keeping in time with Sheridan's monstrous backbeat. The song's thick groove is held in place by Whyte's and Thomas' interwoven vocals. Their male/female harmonies are a rare and welcome find in the male-dominated hard rock genre. The Beatles-inspired melodies of "Good," the old school Motown breakdown in "All Better Now," and "Back and Forth," a he-said-she-said tug of war of contemptuous lovers, illustrate the ability balance balls-out rock with subtle, affective melodies.
Utilizing their unique image and well-crafted music, Earl Greyhound blends the lines of race and gender in the rock genre. Unlike bands that get dominated by the need to be hip, kitschy, or ironic, Greyhound's music never takes a backseat -a rarity in much of today's music.
Also see the Earl Greyhound website
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