CD Review – Common Grackle: The Great Depression
Is it unfair to have a soft spot for the pop DJ? Not the dude who spins Top 40 at clubs and refuses to play “Teach Me How To Dougie” no matter how much I hassle him, but folks like Mark Ronson who make sample-based, hip-hop inflected pop music. The Great Depression, the product of a collaboration between pop writer and producer Gregory Pepper and Saskatoon-based DJ Factor, sounds enough like Ronson’s output, mixing hard boom-bap beats with brassy samples in order to construct offbeat pop songs, for it to be immediately likeable. Pepper’s mumbly vocals and the overall woozy, crackly vibe bring to mind another artist, Montreal’s Islands, a comparison made even more apt by the inclusion of instruments like pedal steel and cello as well as a guest spot by rap legend Kool Keith. And, like Islands, the hooks are solid; check out, for example, the breezily fun “All the Pawns” or clap- and cuss-heavy “Safe Word Play.” Too bad Pepper’s lyrics are some of the most frustrating this side of Travis Morrison’s solo career – references to Twitter and SARS, unfortunate “ironic” Ebonics, and whatever “Jack Nicholsoning” is.