Green House: 20th Anniversary Edition

Absolute Grey

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Green House: 20th Anniversary Edition Review

by Mark Deming

Calling Absolute Grey's Greenhouse a lost classic of the mid-'80s jangle pop and paisley underground scenes is probably going a bit far to make a point, but not by too much. Geographically stranded in upstate New York, and not blessed with the same degree of media attention that their contemporaries on the South and West Coasts enjoyed, Greenhouse earned only a tiny fraction of the acclaim of like-minded bands such as The Rain Parade or The Dream Syndicate, but this remastered edition of their 1984 debut LP makes it clear the band had their own distinct take on trippy, guitar-powered rock, and the talent to make it fly. Beth Brown's strong, unpretentious vocal style and Matthew Kitchen's angular guitar work give the songs a vague, lysergic undertow, with a calm yet edgy cool reinforced by Pat Thomas' muscular, well-punctuated percussion and Mitchell Rasor's full-bodied bass. Absolute Grey also knew how to write songs, with melodies that could either float or attack at will, from the joyously hooky "More Walnuts" and the aggressive "Memory of You," to the contemplative "Saving Face," and "Willow"; if the album's low-budget production is a bit too thin in spots, the tunes are compelling enough to survive the experience. This edition of Greenhouse ups the ante on the original release with a new mix that adds welcome definition and detail to the old edition, and includes a bonus live disc, which packs a good, solid wallop and testifies to Absolute Grey's strength as a live act. Absolute Grey are a band who merit rediscovery, and this reissue of Greenhouse is an ideal place to get acquainted with their virtues.

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