Our Griffins
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Our Griffins

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Alternative

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This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Oct
11
Our Griffins @ Toad

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Oct
10
Our Griffins @ Jhonny Paranza

Livorno, Tuscany, Italy

Livorno, Tuscany, Italy

Oct
09
Our Griffins @ World Cafe Live at The Queen

Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Wilmington, Delaware, United States

This band has not uploaded any videos
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Music

Press


"Dreamy, Spacious Soundscapes: Our Griffins opens for Spires this Wednesday at Bourgie Nights"

A haunting but captivating coterie of sound folds into the beauty of DJ Brown’s soft, intoxicating lyricism and scat-chants on his first full release “Michael Boyd.” His Pennsylvanian band, Our Griffins, released their debut LP in the fall of 2013. It’s a feat for 21-year-old Brown, whose musicality is not just smart and soothing, but rooted in familial discovery and self-identity. In fact, “Michael Boyd” is the name of his uncle, and the artwork for the release is an old picture Brown found of his ancestor.

“It’s fascinating to me, thinking about how my family came about,” Brown says. “Not looking at ancestry as some distance happenstance but observing it as if I could reach out and touch individuals that had a massive part of my existence—whether they made good decisions or bad ones.”

Brown’s mother and grandmother often painted stories of their family’s colorfully harried past. It’s the stuff families are made of: hardships, obstacles overcome, prevailing against the odds—whether burying secrets or airing grievances. Brown’s contemplative nature and perhaps sensitivity toward understanding his past helped shape an identity he questioned. He used music to push through his own growing pangs.

“It’s a part of growing up, realizing how the world works, or how inaccurately you thought the world works,” he explains. “There’s some type of victory in knowing that from a lot of shitty problems a few of us are still living and living positively. I mean just being black in this country and knowing I barely have had to deal with racism because of how my dad handled his circumstances and how his dad did and so forth and so on. Not to say there wasn’t an amount of hurtful behavior and decisions members of my family made along the way. But I’m here, and so is my sister, and my mom and dad and so forth and so on. Reverence is a part of the whole homage [in my music,] but really it’s more about awareness and knowing.”

Brown began playing guitar at 14, taking lessons from a parent’s friend. Yet, after endless research and combing through the vast library that is the Internet, he shaped a sound all his own. Listening, reading, learning along the way became the impetus to create music.

“Around the age a teenager finds individuality through music, cloths, and cigarettes, as a lot of us do, I just spent hours listening to things I would find,” Brown explains. “After a while it shaped me and opened me up to feelings and thoughts I may have not had without listening. I have a lot of thanks to give to music, and music culture in a sense; that’s a part of the reason I’ve decided to give my time and, to a certain extent, my life to it.”

Inspired by blues guitarists, Brown began playing around Pennsylvania in 2008, when he met producer Todd Schied. Schied invited Brown to his home-recording studio to lay down a few tracks. They churned out 2011′s EP, “Conversations,” and in September 2013, the LP “Michael Boyd” was released with the official Our Griffins lineup in place: Travis Hobbie (guitar, vox), Alex Luquet (bass), and John Kimock (drums).

Our Griffins’ soundscape gently maintains a pulsating spaciousness—dreamy, sometimes dark, other times completely hypnotic. It’s fresh and captivating on the ambient, New Wave, and indie-rock scene. Brown’s breathy whispers roll into a soft falsetto full of power, especially when he forewarns “holy hands have come to find us” in “The Halo.” His penchant toward storytelling impresses—some are his own, others inspired or borrowed. “Michael Boyd” sounds like vignettes, with characters vacillating through their own turn of events, such as Oren in “Not Here Entirely” or Donna in “The Rest Of The World Doesn’t Know You’re A Hero.”

“I carry over feelings from songs I’ve heard throughout the years, mostly inadvertently,” Brown notes. “It’s so intangible, it’s hard to trace those feelings and explain them in a conversational context. When putting a song together, I mostly think about accurately representing the characters’ feelings and thoughts within a song.”

“Michael Boyd,” first Our Griffins LP, released in Sept. 2013 and produced by Todd Schied.
Schied has worked with Brown for five years now. It’s a relationship Brown cherishes independently and creatively. “Still funny to apply titles like ‘manager’ or ‘producer’ since I see him as my friend who has more years under his belt then I do,” Brown humbly states.

Our Griffins played for the first time together just last summer. They’ve been touring since, and have new songs already in the works. They’ll be opening for Brooklyn’s garage rockers Spires this Wednesday at Bourgie Nights in downtown Wilmington.

“We’re super excited to keep making music together as a band,” Brown says. “Art can have a large amount of power coming from an individual for sure, but music in particular as an artistic medium has a special power when more than one individual is putting in their energy toward a project . . . Music helps me get my head around things, along with books, paintings, movies, and good people.” - Encore


"Unlocked: The Key’s review of Michael Boyd by Our Griffins"

Michael Boyd Griffin was the uncle of Easton singer and songwriter D.J. Brown.

Michael Boyd is the stunning debut album from Brown’s band, Our Griffins.

The record, released digitally this past Tuesday, is a moving and cohesive collection of songs working on multiple levels. It’s a literal homage to his late uncle (who died when the musician was young) and his maternal grandmother (who passed away in 2009). More broadly, it’s the sound of a young man coming to terms with his own mortality, his family and his place in the world.

Musically, Our Griffins achieves this through arrangements that are both hushed and rousing. Brown’s vocals are unique; it’s like he’s whispering his deepest secrets to you in a voice that’s booming at tremendous decibels. The instrumentation is sometimes acoustic, with haunting synthesizer beds, moodily effected guitars and strings. But it also swells to fervent crescendos when Eric Slick’s drumming kicks in. We shared the free download “Blood On My Sleeves” on Tuesday, and compared it to Explosions in the Sky for its similar progressive sensibility, and Coldplay for its epic scope. Here are a few more names to chew on: the wearied introspection of Nick Drake, the ornamental melodic sense of The Cure in the late 80s, the high drama of Jeff Buckley and all who he inspired.

The shimmering and optimistic opener “All Around I Watch” is juxtaposed by the very humble and haunted “Come and Wake Me Up” – were it not for the snare drum attack, this song would mostly be the otherworldly murmurs of Brown’s voice and Travis Hobbie’s space guitar. Elsewhere, “Nodding In A Basement” takes it to the opposite extreme with high rhythms, a fesity tambourine, and a driving bassline. It’s the rocker of the album, and one that, in a way, lyrically addresses rock. Seemingly focusing on two characters who meet at a DIY basement show – one nodding to the music, one dancing – the song underscores the search for escape and solace through music.

“I’m not here to be entertained,” goes the bridge. ”I’m not here for much of anything. I’m not here to raise my sword, I’m not here to please the Lord. I’m here to feel alive.”

Think of it as an amplified answer to The Mountain Goats’ “Dance Music.”

Themes of faith versus independent-mindedness crop up elsewhere. “Forget the silver lining, I’ll never live a lie / Handing out papers to passers by, they won’t get me, I’m not like”; this lyric on “My Cousin All Grown Up” could be the cries of somebody resisting an evangelical upbringing. Or “Jeremiah’s Palace,” with the biting sarcasm in Brown’s delivery: “I spent a day up at Jeremiah’s palace … Oh what a man, to have a name from the bible.”

Though, it’s important to point out, the “I”‘s are not necessarily Brown himself. Sometimes it represents family members – the song “Not Here Entirely” seems to play out a domestic discussion from a generation past – and other times it’s a character standing in for emotions Brown the songwriter seeks to explore – “I painted up a story, was my only cry for help” on “All Around.”

One verse where the “I” does feel personal and direct is on “Blood,” perhaps the most powerful verse on the album. It talks of a person who, amid with a crowd of mourners at a funeral, first wishes they were the one in the ground, but the train of thought leads them elsewhere.

“I stand near a grave / with envy for the life that has ended / feel they’ve figured it out. / I bundled up / and kept my head down / next to the mourners passing / and thought a lonely life / to live for self.”

Coupled with the lush music, it makes a powerful statement – one that echoes across Michael Boyd. Life is fixed in impermanence, everything around you is fleeting, and in the end, you’re the one you answer to. So, from Michael Boyd Griffins to D.J. Brown, the answer seems to be simple: life for yourself. - The Key, WXPN


"OUR GRIFFINS COMBINE HAUNTING MELODIES & EPIC SWELLS OF INDIE ROCK WITH TALES OF FAMILY & REGRET ON DEBUT #SOUNDCHECK"

Our Griffins is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist DJ Brown. Inspired by a photo of his uncle as a child just weeks before losing his brother, the album is full of ghosts. Haunting melodies float on top of miles deep rivers of atmosphere on their debut full length Michael Boyd.

Drawing from acts like TV on the Radio, The Smiths, and Radiohead, Our Griffins plays beautiful music loudly. DJ Brown describes himself as soft-spoken and shy, and the album plays on and against his anxieties. His whispered vocals are high in the mix, while drummer Eric Slick's intense pounding is pushed lower. The effect is a tension between the quiet and loud that calls to mind the still-missed Jason Noble's work in The Shipping News and Rachel's.

Our Griffins is at their best when telling stories about family, as on the stand-out “My Cousin All Grown Up” and “Jeremiah's Palace.” And given the inspiration, it fits that the best song on the record would be “Send My Brother Back.”

The whole record is available on the Bandcamp player above on a pay-what-you-can basis. - AfroPunk


Discography

2013- Michael Boyd LP - September 2013 release
2013- Come And Wake Me Up - Single- released May, 2013
2011- Conversations EP - released Novemeber, 2011

Photos

Bio

"Our Griffins music is powerful and spacious," McTear says, "and Browns penetrating voice reveals a kid who grew up struggling with his identity, a gentle introvert, much happier to observe the behavior of others, than to speak out loud about himself. Its also the debut full-length from an artist with a long musical history, who will continue to inspire for years to come."

Its not surprising, if you know Brown personally although certainly his music paints a very different portrait of the young artist. On record, the 22-year-old Brown is deeply confident and passionate, weaving complex tales of family friendships and self-discovery. In person however, Brown is soft-spoken and shy, avoiding eye contact, and glancing downwards at the table. 

"When Im performing live, I shake uncontrollably," he admits.  "The motivation when you're playing live for me to is, 1) to be true to that the moment, and what Im singing, and 2) to get lost, he explains. So wherever we start, and wherever we end, I'm in a totally different place."

Music has always been an escape for Brown, as well as a source of support.  

Family also informs Browns new record, Michael Boyd (out September 5 2013), which teems with stories both personal and borrowed, and which was inspired by an old photograph of his uncle, named Michael Boyd, at age 6, found while rummaging through family memories. The photo was taken only weeks after the young boy lost his brother in a swimming accident on the Delaware River, and his expression is haunted and somber.

Uncovering the image proved particularly enlightening for Brown. "I was with my mom, and we were sitting down looking through some old family photos, and that picture came up, he says. And for some reason, it really resonated with me. And it made me think about a lot of things I hadn't thought about. As in, things being connected. So you don't know who your ancestors are, and theres really no way to find out. It made me think about that concept, and it made me end up writing around that concept."

Michael Boyd encompasses both family stories and Browns own story of struggle and self-discovery. It was recorded by Todd Schied, with Eric Slick (Dr. Dog) on drums, and Brad Kunkle on bass, and was mixed by Brian McTear (Sharon Van Etten) at Miner Street Studios. McTear describes the experience as the start of something big. 

Performance History and Band Highlights.. 

Our Griffins first full band performance occurred on May 31, 2013 at Johnny Brendas in Philadelphia opening for Nightlands.   Since then, they've played over 50 dates including small DIY punk spaces, intimate So Far acoustic shows, and headlining well known indie rock venues such as Glasslands in Brooklyn and Kung Fu Necktie in Philly.  In New York city, they've played other well established venues such as Pianos, the Living Room and have recently been playing regularly on Saturday nights at Rockwood Music Hall in the Lower East Side.  

In March of 2014 they took their first 2 week tour that saw them play in venues from their hometown of Easton, PA down to Asheville, NC to NOLA and finishing up with two shows at SXSW. 

The radio station WXPN in Philadelphia has been very supportive of the band with Program Director Bruce Warren calling their record Michael Boyd "gorgeous" and them "a band you don't want to miss."  They have been getting regular spins and WXPN added the song "Nodding In A Basement" to their regular rotation.  

Songwriter DJ Brown was contracted to write the song "Where She Lives" for ABC Persimmon Grove and was recently asked to perform a song the ABC show Grey's Anatomy.   Our Griffins have also had songs placed in the MTV show Teen Mom, 2.

Our Griffins was recently invited to perform at WXPN's XPoNential Summer Festival on the same bill with Beck, Band of Horses etc.. They will also be performing at their first Communion show in Philly on May 8th and opening for Kishi Bashi at the Theater of Living Arts (TLA) in Philadelphia on June 6th.