Gray Young
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Gray Young

Raleigh, North Carolina, United States | INDIE

Raleigh, North Carolina, United States | INDIE
Band Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Gray Young-Firmament Album Review"

I woke up this morning and had this song playing in my head. People that know me wouldn’t find that strange. There is always something going on up there and any image, noise or idea can bring on a new tune. This particular tune played on all day. I couldn’t get rid of it, couldn’t escape it. This wasn’t a bad thing. I just couldn’t place it.

The relentless fast-pace guitar riffs, the strong steady backbeat of the bass drum, the melodic bass…it was right there. So familiar, yet brand new. Finally I sat down in my office and put on my headphones to work on this review. Fifteen seconds into the opening track, it hit me…Who the Hell ARE these guys???

You would never know listening to the tracks on Firmament that Gray Young was a trio or that this was their debut LP. The textures and complexity of the music told the story of a much more mature band. Layered guitar lines and driving drums play almost opposite of what becomes a melodious bass line.

As with many young bands these days, genres mean very little. The good bands, the ones that will survive, are bands that can crossover lines as if they aren’t there. Indie, post-rock, alt-rock, whatever you want to call Gray Young, they do it well. The one thing this band does not drive forward with is vocals. They are understated and not necessarily the focal point of this band. Seeing as how they are unsigned, it will be interesting to see if that changes in the future.

From Raleigh, NC, the band consists of Chas McKeown (guitar, vocals), Dan Grinder (bass) & Jeff Dopko (drums). They list U2 and Radiohead as musical influences and it shows. Coldplay can be thrown in the mix as well.

For post-rock type epic instrumentals, the tracks on this album are short and tight. The title track is the only one that goes over five minutes. One can imagine the band truly opens it up and gives these songs the open road on stage.

"Independent Weekly Reviews Firmament"

In a post-rock field prone to excess, Gray Young trims the fat by cutting its cinematic grandeur into lean, hard-working miniatures. Firmament bursts out of the gate with "Provenance": Chas McKeown's chiming guitar and Jeff Dopko's attacking drums, heavy on cymbals and floor toms, lay an anticipatory foundation before bringing Dan Grinder's melodic bass in for a full-on assault.

It's a two-minute mission statement for the purposeful Raleigh trio, who only once break the 4:30 mark through Firmament's 13 taut tracks. The exception—the nearly six-minute title track—dramatically builds around a hypnotic riff for four, McKeown's wispy vocals wafting by in a dreamy haze as repetitive phrases lull the listener into a calm. Washes of furious guitar eventually cascade down over a torrent of snare and cymbal shots.

Gray Young mines similar build-and-release techniques throughout Firmament, but the band is wise to avoid the redundancy and pitfalls of relying on a singular trick for the disc's 47 minutes. "Ghost Note" doses the album with ambience, gentle guitar and whooshing noise serving as a palette cleanser. "Across the Loft" and "Tilling the Wind" are centered around heaps of guitar and percussive flash anchored by Grinder's bass, but they're more straightforward (though no less heroic) indie rock tunes, the emphasis now on McKeown's distant croons. The hollow "First Perennial Fall" almost ditches the rock instrumentation entirely, opting for dissonant guitar shimmer to accompany a circular piano line. Closer "Aurora" is another sparse duet, with atmospheric keys supporting the guitar's persistent melody.

Firmament deftly navigates pretentious waters to deliver an LP full of mini-epics that know their limits. Though it is Gray Young's first LP, it's one that you shouldn't be surprised to find in heavy local rotation soon
- Independent Weekly

" reviews Firmament"

Every so often a band so surprising and unexpected will come along, grabbing your attention and stealing your affections, rising their way to the top of your playlist and probably staying there until you've either played them to death, or the Gods compose an album and release it in our fair world; if you couldn't already tell where I'm headed - Gray Young are one of these bands.

They came to me under the tag of 'Indie', which added a significant contribution to just why I was so amazed by this band. There's very little here that you'd associate with 'Indie', and very much that you'd associate with post-rock. The vocals are peppered, used sparsely, and used only to add to the layers which the incandescent musicianship masterfully builds. From the instant the drums and guitars build on opening track "Provenance" you know this won't be just another album. "First Perennial Fall" demonstrates almost Balmorhea-esque soundscapes with superb use of piano which encourages one to instantly think of the beauty of falling rain. Similarly, "Convoy" uses frontman Chas McKeown's mellow vocals to build on such soundscapes. Every song sounds delicate, gentle and yet ambient.

It's surprising to understand that with such a textured and dynamic sound there are only three members of Gray Young, but each member is as talented as the next, perhaps it is their lack of numbers which allows each instrument to have its own spotlight which ultimately adds to their sound. Oh, and their sound leans closely on a few other bands out there, but Gray Young have, as all great bands should, a sound of their own. It may be a little premature to label Gray Young as 'great', but if they keep making albums of this quality pretty soon it won't just be me speaking of them in such high regard. Without meaning to sound pretentious (a label occasionally known to follow post-rock), this is not an album for narrow-minded mainstream masses, there are no lyrics about partying nor any songs that scrape by because of one simple catchy chorus alone; the tracks are carefully constructed for your listening pleasure, for you to unravel the thread behind the exceptional musicianship, and just when you think this album has nothing left to give, the thread unravels a little bit more. [8½]
Download: Tilling The Wind, First Perennial Fall, Sway
For Fans of: Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, Balmorhea -

"Firmament - WKNC Pick of the Week"

I don’t know why instrumental bands even bother to name their songs if collectively they all flow so well. This is none more potent than the tracks off of Firmament, the new release from the Raleigh-based trio Gray Young. The group has graced the Triangle scene before, with the lulling Kindle Field E.P., but this is a more personal progress. The album’s epic miniature symphonies of soaring post-rock anthems evoke a forceful pounding of drums and bass, culminating in a cathartic slumber. It leaves many a listener moodily swaying in its brilliance.

While one cannot help but notice obvious similarities to bands like Explosions in the Sky, Caspian, Mono, and The Appleseed Cast, to name a few, Gray Young exploits its own familiar sound with gravitational potential. The soft, breathy vocals complement the melodic blare of guitars and bass. It’s forceful and gloomy, but ethereal and infectious. Gray Young does not bother with extremely long songs that tend to be a staple on most instrumental albums (Hello, Godspeed You Black Emperor!). Instead, the band focuses on creating a poignant parting in the album openers “Provenance” and “Convoy”, eliciting a meditative simplicity as brief and wistful as fading autumn leaves.

The droopy strumming does tends to wear off near the end of Firmament, however, as the band sluggishly relays the remainder of the record. The songs start sounding more and more alike as the album starts to thin. The strange murmurs of“(Ghost Notes)” clouts an otherwise vivid instrumentation, but the cascading forays are only minor in the album’s overall beauty.

I think what makes Gray Young special is their local sensibility and the sense of pride it creates for people of Raleigh and all of North Carolina, just as the same way Explosions in the Sky do for Austin, Texas. But geographical sentiments aside, Gray Young is a rhythmic harvest. The warm and distorted guitars tones in “Tilling the Wind” and the steady bass solo in “Cavalcade for Sundown” are rare finds in the recession-worn era of disbanding groups and suffering local music shops. But the soft teasing of brooding intensity, none more prevalent than in the luscious “Firmament” pleads a change, or a “new era of responsibility” if you will.

The thing about post-rock instrumental bands is that no member is more primal than any other. It’s all a collaborative effort. Gray Young, post-rockers they are, give their all to this equivocal intimacy, and receive the same incandescence tit-for-tat. Music this raw and delicate deserves more than to be mentioned or placed on a soundtrack of some television drama. It should be enjoyed beyond the scope of Raleigh’s backyard. It should be sought for.

"Subba-Cultcha Reviews Firmament"

There is – to my ears at least – sufficient commonality between the borders of what can be defined math-rock and what can be defined post-rock that I am surprised that more bands have not tried to meld the two together. Imagine my surprise, then, when along came Gray Young with their debut record “Firmament” and attempted to do just that.

They do indeed roughly attempt to cross-breed the two styles, but rather than do so randomly instead do so within a framework which lends them a good sense of their own style. It is a dreamy and heady mix which recalls Mogwai and Sunny Day Real Estate at different times and in different ways.

While the world clearly will need some time to wake up to such high concepts, there is plenty here to get excited about and suggest that, if they can keep their passion and keep ploughing this particular musical furrow, there is a following waiting to be nurtured. An impressive and mature debut.

"Dryvetymeonlyne reviews Firmament"

Now this is a strain of post-rock that I can really appreciate. The music of Gray Young might call to mind the familiar sounds of Explosions In The Sky, but it has a personality all its own. What helps set Firmament apart from the pack is that it’s mostly bereft of the prototypical never-ending guitar noodling for minutes on end that usually categorizes the genre. Instead, this trio brings together Parachutes-era Coldplay, Silent Alarm-era Bloc Party, and the almost unheard of ability to write a three-minute post-rock track into one musically tight package.

The typical adjectives for post-rock do apply here: these songs are most certainly ambient, anthemic, and atmospheric. But due to the band’s concise songwriting skills, they are also much more direct in focus and impact. Featuring “Convoy,” “Across The Loft,” “Woven,” Firmament possesses a nice rock punch that serves as a weighty complement to the traditional sonic themes at play here. Moreover, a smattering of breathy vocals appears in half the tracks, consisting primarily of short poems relating nature images from across the passing of the seasons.

I can’t stress enough how impressed I am by how capably the men of Gray Young stick to their strengths as musicians and songwriters and don’t lose themselves in recreating any sort of post-rock wheel. Sure, the comfortable touchstones of ethereal mood and soaring guitar lines are present, but this band has found a way to cut through most of the clichés that would bog down a lesser outfit. Firmament could easily serve as the soundtrack for some sort of hip-yet-heartfelt back-to-nature indie flick, what with the substantial rock chops and accessible pop formatting present.

" reviews Firmament"

Gray Young is not a solo artist, but a rock trio from North Carolina. Firmament is their self-released, debut full-length following 2007’s Kindle Field EP.

Their sound is rather expansive for what one normally expects from a rock trio. But it seems as though Gray Young is no normal rock trio. Starting with the glimmering guitar textures and continuing with some grand keyboard melodies and the addition of some intense drumming, the band find themselves smudging the boundaries of emo-, indie- and post-rock. It almost sounds as though Death Cab for Cutie ditched their heartache-y vocals and got together with Godspeed You Black Emporer! and explored a more atmospheric post-rock sound with ambient tinklings floating around.

Louder, more dynamic rhythms build from softer, subtler tones to include periodic waves of placid keyboards and bright, fuzzy guitar leads as brisk time changes, taut instrumental interplay and crisp arrangements entertain the listener and make us wonder what direction the music will take next.

At times the melodies build into anthem-like indie-rock that sounds like Gray Young could be the leaders in the next wave of Coldplay influenced bands. But thankfully they pull in the reigns, take a step back and breathe a breath of fresh air into the proceedings by exploring different rock textures, be they ambient noodlings, dreamy keyboard swirls or dynamic and edgy guitar-based counter-rhythms.

There is an occasional unassuming vocal lead that also steers the sound away from most commercial indie-rock, while some delicate aerial guitar leads probe a smattering of lilting melodies, before the drums are added, and the whole thing erupts into a shimmering, atmospheric indie/post-rock hybrid similar to Midsummer.

Seek out and enjoy.

"Can You See the Sunset reviews Firmament"

Playing cinematic post-rock can be a slippery slope to navigate, but on their first full-length, Firmament, the Releigh, NC trio Gray Young manages to escape much of what plagues the generally overwrought genre. Instead of going for the grandeur that many of their peers aim for and fail to attain, Gray Young does the unthinkable, they play it fairly simple and straightforward. Some songs are of the plinky atmospheric variety (a la Explosions In The Sky) while a good number of them are heavier and more rockin’ guitar-oriented songs. I should also mention that even though about half the songs on Firmament are instrumental, the vocals on the remainder are generally understated, atmospheric and not a focal point. Overall, it’s a dynamic album that plays like a collection of little short vignettes. This is movie music. It’s somewhere between Explosions In The Sky, Bloc Party, and Elliott and it’s pretty awesome. -

"Bands You Should Know - Gray Young"

I’m going to start up a little weekly post or bi-weekly post called Bands You Should Know. I’ve been trying to keep up with music, but have been falling behind. Not a lot floats my boat anymore.

That’s changed with this week’s discovery of Raleigh, North Carolina’s Gray Young.

Check out a tune:

Song: Tilling the Wind

Album: Firmament

Gray Young have a busy August ahead with a string of shows in the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as a live taping and interview on NPR’s The State Of Things. The band is supporting their self-released debut full-length, Firmament.


AUG 05 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle w/ the Octopus Project
AUG 06 – Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong w/ Eat People, Prisms, Solar Powered Sun Destroyer
AUG 07 – Frederick, MD @ Braddock Community Center w/ Eat People, My Best Friend’s Birthday, Solar Powered Sun Destroyer
AUG 08 – Manassas, VA @ El Taco w/ Eat People, Me Monster
AUG 14 – Winston Salem, NC @ Elliot’s Revue w/ Jews and Catholics
AUG 28 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Live on NPR 91.5 “The State of Things”
AUG 29 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Jack Sprat w/ Battle Rockets and Goodbye, Titan

- geekCouch

"MP3 Mondays with Gray Young"

Gray Young – “Tilling The Wind”: If you were able to dial down the messianic tendencies of a group like Coldplay or surgically remove any hint of shoegazing from M83’s work, what you’d get is a sound akin to what this trio achieves: big and shimmery with only a hint of toughness on the edges. It’s the most baldly commercial approach that I’ve yet heard from a band self-releasing their first CD and working the small club circuit. I don’t decry them this as it doesn’t feel cloying or trite. Rather, it’s a more realized and honest version of what those two aforementioned bands would dare to attempt. -


Upcoming full length to be released Fall 2012

staysail - Full length released 11/9/10; 307 Knox Records

Firmament - Full length released 1/27/09; self released

Kindle Field EP - released 2/1/07; self released



For a quick education in the inadequacy of rock-scribe labels, note, for instance, Raleigh trio Gray Young. While they are regularly tagged (or tarred) with the catch-all “post-rock,” except for a propensity for instrumental numbers, the label is quite inaccurate—hell, Gray Young’s shimmering 2009 debut, Firmament, included vocals on half the tracks.

Still, the beat goes on. Firmament had folks conjuring up the usual suspects (Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, et al.) to describe Gray Young’s melodic squall. And though the comparisons were closer, none of them really suited, either. For one, the record's 13 songs—with the 6-minute title track exception—delivered their build-and-release epics in short sprints rather than marathons, most running their course in tidy three- and four-minute packages. Gray Young’s variations were subtle, but transformative. Rather than piling one processed guitar wave atop another, “First Perennial Fall” takes a simple staccato piano figure for its foundation, and “Doorlight” uses swirling organ and synth to coat the song in a 4AD haze. “Precipice” put Dan Grinder’s bass front-and-center for its propulsion. Drummer Jeff Dopko’s metal background fueled his toms-and-cymbals explosions on tracks like “Provenance.” On “Tilling the Wind,” Chas McKeown's guitar shards owe more to U2’s The Edge than they do the Glaswegians or Texans.

Then there are McKeown’s vocals, which serve to add texture as much as they deliver forlorn themes well-suited to these wistful mini-epics. The atmosphere they help create recalls ’90s swell-and-release bands like Ride or Slowdive, further watering down the post-rock comparisons. Of course, those bands labored under their own over-used genre moniker. So instead of wasting time trying to figure out where Gray Young fits in the catalog, we’re all better served simply enjoying the beautiful sounds they make.