Greet Death revises the ’90s with ear-bleeding pop

Davisburg rock city

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo Greet Death.

There are some great grunge-era guitar influences on Greet Death's debut album, Dixieland, some stoner metal tendencies, and enough shoegaze warble to please any pedalboard geek. But the thing that sticks in your head for days and days are the melodies.

"We all listen to Drake and Taylor Swift as much as Hum and Cloakroom, so our influences are pretty eclectic," says guitarist and vocalist Logan Gaval. "As a musician, I'm always trying to accentuate the best elements of '90s guitar rock, sonically, without going into the butt rock Pearl Jam territory."

The band's revisionist take on the decade that gave us so many bad Nirvana would-bes doesn't stop there: They also unironically — as far as I can tell — named their best song "Cumbersome," as if to erase all memory of Seven Mary Three's second-tier alt-rock staple.

Dixieland isn't a concept album, but recurring musical themes and lyrics evenly preoccupied with Christian symbolism, death, and getting off make it cohesive and insular sounding, like eavesdropping on the shorthand lingo of an outsider group of young white dudes. (And seriously, is this some kind of Catholic/Christian guilt trip? "Not really," Gaval says. "Maybe.")

There's a good reason for that: The band is from the small town of Davisburg, and Gaval along with bassist and vocalist Sam Boyhtari, both in their early- to mid-20s now, have been playing in bands together since they were kids.

Davisburg is kind of smack in the middle of Flint and Detroit, and while the band made the former its homebase starting out, they've been getting more gigs in and around the latter recently, including an opening spot for instrumental metal headliners Pelican last October and as part of the always-awesome but closely curated No Rest Fest in December.

"Flint is very inviting toward local and developing bands, and it's a great place to get started playing shows and learning how to perform," Boyhtari says. "Detroit isn't as accessible without contacts. I think once we played in Michigan enough, drew the interest of bookers, developed a profile, and played tons of DIY shows in the metro area, we began playing Detroit proper more often."

Originally called Pines, the band spent a couple of years writing its debut album and changed the name just before releasing Dixieland on Flesh and Bone Records last summer. Response has been positive, including a surprise glowing review from indie tastemaker Pitchfork.

"The Pitchfork thing was totally unexpected," Boyhtari says. "It definitely didn't change our plans as far as touring incessantly and continuing to work hard, but as a promotional and pitching tool it's extremely valuable. We're very fortunate that so many people care about this thing we've created together."

The band has already put in some time on the road supporting the album, and 2018 will bring more touring as well as writing.

"Spring is going to be crazy in particular," Boyhtari says. "Keep an eye out for that."

Greet Death will perform on Saturday, Jan. 13 with Twin Peaks, Pup, Shortly, and others as part of Fusion Shows 10th Birthday Party at the Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 248-858-9333;; Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; Tickets are $23 advance, $25 day of show.

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