And yet somewhere in the mix, quietly playing a wedding, happy hour, or sitting in with a singer/songwriter, are some of the finest unsung musicians and songwriters anywhere. Five guys who’ve played together since high school, toured the nation and world in various projects, and can deliver the blues, rock, country, or soul- anything, really- as good as it gets. They know music. They playfully call themselves The Granfalloons. And these boys have Songs to Sing.
Sure. Everyone’s got songs, right? Not so fast. On this, their debut release, The Granfalloons emerge as Athens’ answer to Golden Smog, The Jayhawks, Wilco, and even Ween. This is classic, smart roots-pop that crawled from weird America’s sun-baked south. Driven by strong, catchy melodies, Songs to Sing is a crisp harmony-laden collection that will get in your head and have you singing along in no time. Beware. Like silly putty and southern summer days, these songs are gonna stick.
The Granfalloons (a reference to any proud, but meaningless, association or society from Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle) are Matthew Williams (guitar and vocals), Tommy Somerville (keys and vocals), AJ Adams (pedal steel, lap steel, and guitar), and Seth Hendershot (drums and vocals). While Williams, Hendershot, and Adams played together for years as part of national touring band Blueground Undergrass, Somerville is a founding member of Atlanta’s celebrated jazz/ latin ensemble, Squat. Joined by Chuck Bradburn (Southern Bitch) on bass, the all-star group has collectively played thousands of shows for thousands of fans.
A natural byproduct of performing and communicating together through music for so long, the band’s formation came as no surprise to its members. “The project came together seamlessly,” says Williams. “We had the idea for the band when our individual stints with Blueground was ending. We figured, ‘Let’s just keep playing together and work on our original material’. We met at AJ’s about once a month for a bit, kicked around the songs, arranged them on the fly, tried to record them in a natural setting, and let AJ work his magic in mixing.”
Sounds so.. simple. But on Songs to Sing, The Granfalloons offer a sophisticated blend of Americana, alt.country, indie rock, and good ole southern vibes. Deceptive in its pleasant simplicity, there’s nothing short of excellent musicianship on show here. The songs are structured masterfully, and Adams’ production provides the perfect warmth and light blend of roots instrumentation for each instrument and player to step up and shine. Both on record and live, The Granfalloons deliver a dynamic and exciting performance.
Featuring three songwriters and vocalists, Songs to Sing is full of character and varied in sound. Matthew Williams’ sweet, high voice drives mid-tempo gems “Nobody’s Singin’” and “Gave Up on You”, both rich in sound and harmonies, featuring jangly guitars, light piano touches, and a spot-on electric crunch. From the cajun-feel of dobro-colored “Real Life”, soft-tempo breezy whistle of the shuffling “End of the Day”, to the delicious tango/calypso party of Pura Vida and tongue-in-cheek piano highlighter of playful adult number “Pepper”, this record is exceptionally versatile and well-rounded. And we can hardly pass up the chance to mention “Dmitri’s Demise”, a bizarre tale of fratricide amongst Russian peasantry colored, of course, with gypsy-klezmer squeeze box, strange steel stylings, and a glasses-clinking celebratory communal finale compliments of the Siberian Potato Vodka Choir (Justin Evans, Lera Lynn) that is straight out of a Jewish spiritual from the shtetl.
Lyrically, The Granfalloons match the record’s bright, relaxed sound. Highlight “Brayden’s Piano”, dressed in a shimmering sound of choppy-to-smooth waves, harmonies and reverb-on-soul steel, calls out: “Roller coasters and airplanes/ they can’t stop your waves from rolling high/ You’re higher than everything.” Somerville’s surely in a laid-back, Georgia mood– walking out of a blue color job to go fishing in “Resume” (“I’m updating my resume to get a fishing job for me”) and taking the party south of the border for a toast in “Pura Vida”: “Let’s fill or glasses with beer, wine, or good liquor/ And lift them higher than all of the problems we know.. I’ll drink to the pure life, la pura vida”.
The members of the ‘Falloons have appeared with various acts at major venues and festivals across the U.S. as well as internationally in Germany, The Netherlands, India, Mexico, and Japan. This record is radio-ready and these boys are prepared to bring the hot licks and popsicle Americana-pop to festivals and venues worldwide. They may be flying under the radar, but consider yourself fortunate to get hit by the ‘falloons’ tight harmonies and gorgeous sounds floating in the ether. “So light it cannot fall/ it floats in the air”, sings Williams in “Gave Up on You”. That’s for sure. Meet The Granfalloons. These are unsung giants, with songs to sing. Listen. Love. Repeat. Pray for more.
Songs To Sing
Athensʼ answer to Golden Smog, The Jayhawks, Wilco, and even Ween. Classic, smart roots-pop with strong, catchy melodies that crawled from weird Americaʼs sun- baked south. Harmony-laden gem.
1. Penny Farthing
2. Nobody’s Singin’
3. Real Life
4. End Of The Day
5. Pura Vida
6. Brayden’s Piano
7. Gave Up On You
9. Songs To Sing
10. Dmitri’s Demise