I usually give a song 45 seconds to a minute. If it doesn’t hit me, I hit next. If it does, I click to see what else I can listen to. In Greenleaf’s case, their song “Jack Staff” hit me instantaneously and didn’t let go. As I clicked on their release, Nest of Vipers, I could tell after three tracks that I needed to listen to the whole album. I don’t know about you but something I simply can’t resist is the blend of bad ass with catchy. It’s like if you got to be the popular kid and the Breakfast Club bad ass at the same time. Greenleaf is that blend. Indie rock in bed with hard rock ; dirty grunge mixed with sharp punkish attitude ; infectious melodies on top of crunchy guitars and creatively catchy riffs. Tastefully distorted bass that’s anything but stuck-up sounding. Straight ahead vocals that weave over and under the mixes from song to song.

Listen to Greenleaf on Earbits

Greenleaf is a slick, sharp and heavy grime that forces attention and takes you on a unique journey –whether that be through instrumentally driven trodders like “At the Helm” or overtly singable uppers like “Case of Fidelity.” Yet even with the popular catchy kid on their side, Greenleaf maintains street cred and doesn’t let you settle into a formula. Each song has its own stamp, its own persona while maintaining the red thread that is so distinctly Greenleaf.

I want to high five their drummer on tracks like “Sunken Ships” and especially “The Timeline’s History,” where his expertly placed snare rolls quite literally made me laugh out loud. I wanna know who thought of that – seriously. So bad ass! Accents that juxtapose the continuously driving guitars, throwing peaks and valleys into a song that flies by (so I put it on repeat for a while). Seems like it would come off as a drum wacking show-off song, but it so doesn’t.

The vocals parlay between Radiohead essence on songs like “At the Helm” and Foo Fighters-esque punch. “Sunken Ships” and “Case of Fidelity” have a Grohl-like feel to the vocals as well. But again, Greenleaf doesn’t allow themselves to be placed into an easy filing like that. Where there’s Grohl, there’s also Jack White influence on songs like “Dreamcatcher,” with am radio guitars and yet another infectious riff.

Then there’s “Tree of Life,” with an eerie and discordant beginning, making me feel like I’m in an old polaroid. It builds slowly, the suspense stretching, yet never wearing on your patience. Well-placed noise elements blend hypnotically with single note overtones that lead into full band, drop down again before the drums lead the methodical march through what feels like a thick black and white forest. It’s instrumentally driven, which is something Greenleaf isn’t afraid to do.

At the Helm” and “Nest of Vipers” also bring instrumentation to the foreground. The former with its brooding and dramatic intro riff, effected vocals sitting at the back of the mix, lazily pulling against the push of the drums.The latter with a hypnotizing consistent organ note leading you through to the first verse where the ethereal vocals, wet and distant, splash in with wide drums before inviting the organ back in for a cult-like chorus, with monotone like vocals sounding like a gray sky, low clouds over wide expanses of land.

Outro choruses sway and bash, like behemoth stadium rock giants without any of the corny fluff. There’s huge and soaring in there – so much that I can barely sit on the couch. Then there’s methodically contemplative, exacting and minimalistic. A well performed, well produced and damn well thought out album. It’s no surprise to me why Greenleaf ended up on Earbits’ Editors Picks. I’ll be listening to this album for quite some time, no doubt consistently appreciative of its intriguing arrangements, infectious melodies, riffs and fills, and musicianship.

Great job guys.

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