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UDl4rCn1meT9_tirz9_lLjaftfabn1KWCC7jq9r1goUThere’s a considerable amount of expended effort from artists and journalists toward describing or defining what “rock” music is. Rock is cool. Rock is loud. Rock has attitude, panache, energy, enthusiasm… you get the point.
Seeing as the concept is subjective, ultimately the descriptor is as malleable as you’d care to make it. Mouthpieces for the movement will say rock defies convention— but that’s been a talking point for the punk scene since its inception as well. So who’s to say what the dictionary definition of rock is?
I think the strongest case for defining rock is made by bands that could care less what its parameters are… they simply do it innately. They rock, therefore they rock. (*yes, I love circular logic… just go with me*)
For those who do strive for nonconformity, it takes that same innate sense of things to effectively approach the music business at an odd angle; eschewing the easy path to marketability is a Herculean task. So in that sense, Grown Up Avenger Stuff’s name is incredibly appropriate. They don’t play to contrivances, conventions or cookie-cutter calculations for success. They don’t list their own accolades. They don’t appeal to the lowest-common denominators by displaying their vivacious lead-singer in various stages of undress. They play music. They play it well. No need to complicate the issue any further.
What genre are they? Well, they represent them all, essentially. Their Facebook genre description lists as Rock Alternative Punk Pop Glam Healing. After listening to their recent release, Sparkleton, you could definitely make a case for every descriptor contained there, and even a few that aren’t.

Stylistically, every track on the record is wildly contrasted, yet brilliantly coherent for the simple fact that they are performed by the same collective. From the spacey, ethereal opening notes of, “Some of Us,” the record’s opening track, through its bluesy, shimmering concluding tune, “Do Ya,” Grown Up Avenger Stuff show myriad shades, styles, tones and textures as the songs and album progress. Contrast plays a major role in this band, and eclecticism is certainly a strong-suit for them. Funk leads to punk, which segues into atmospheric rock with phased guitars and wandering, rubbery basslines. This blends with some blues-infused psychedelia, a touch of trance here and a dash of soul or prog-rock there. The album is a glorious hodgepodge.
For example, “Do Ya,” is an entire Pink Floyd album distilled into 2-and-a-half minutes. “Sparkleton,” the title track, is a slow-burn exploratory acid-rock ballad followed by, “The Beat,” an avant-garde rock/jazz/funk fusion track featuring atonal Debbie Harry-esque spoken lyrics… until 2 minutes into the song, where the track morphs into the aforementioned meandering blues infused psychedelia that would sound strangely at home on any early Alanis Morissette release due to the particular timbre from vocalist Deirdre Kroener.

With me so far? Glorious.
There’s a marvelous ascendant quality to every tune, with the initial verses building up a head of steam before exploding into anthemic chorus lines that more-often-than-not shift the groove of the song entirely. The band bursts like a pyrotechnic display at their strongest moments, and resolve like descending twilight.
You have to speak about the group in abstractions because their style itself is so unconventional. Very few artists can be musically amorphous with any success, but the Grown Ups have been consistently kicking up dust to critical acclaim for quite some time now— which truly speaks to their talent level.
If I haven’t intrigued you enough to investigate the group at this point, then another 2,000 self-indulgent words won’t benefit anyone. It certainly suffices to say that if you’re a fan of music then this band will absolutely appeal to you in some way, shape or form. There are so many access points on the album for fans of any genre that you’d be hard-pressed to listen to the record and be left wanting for something to latch-on to. For a collection of 7 songs the album feels insanely expansive, as the group sonically leaves very few stones unturned. Posting any single song from the record does the band a disservice, as no solitary tune can encapsulate the multi-faceted marvel that is this quartet’s sound.
Furthermore, I cannot properly extol the virtues of a band that is quirky, inventive and brilliantly tongue-in-cheek whilst simultaneously avoiding being self-absorbed, self-concerned or pompous. Bands like this do not exist in the wild. They must have been bred in captivity (or on another planet) and eventually released for our personal edification. Glimpse them while you can…
You could say the rock genre has always been about stumbling into grace by simply being who you are with the volume turned way up. Rock music at its basest state consists of common human emotion articulated and amplified to ensnare, intrigue or inspire like-minds. You can debate intrinsic worth based on the message, execution, packaging or a million other variables, but if you don’t distill something genuine you may as well be belching to a back-beat (or have Pip farting on a snare-drum).
As for passion, enthusiasm and expressiveness— Grown Up Avenger Stuff has it all in spades.
In short… they rock.

For fans of:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Queens of the Stone Age, Dead Sara
Florence and the Machine, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

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