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Common Grackle - The Great Depression

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By: Brandon Backhaus
common grackle, the great depression, fake four, factor, gregory pepper, indie r
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I first heard Gregory Pepper and His Problems when rocking out to the Fake Four Inc record label sampler in my ride like a couple of teenage Valley girls headed to Sunset for the first time. Windows down, volume up, and giving not a f***! The whole Fake Four family has been getting their collective balls washed across the world wide webs, and so who the hell am I to throw in the towel.

The Great Depression by Common Grackle is a genre-bending collaboration between producer Factor and "indie-pop wunderkind" Pepper. The result: some bad ass sh*t. Factor's production seems the perfect compliment to Pepper's smarmy yet sincere songwriting. The Great Depression has the trademark wit and bite evident in Pepper's other projects, and the expansive sound and precision expected from Factor at this point. (See Awol One and Ron Contour/Moka Only.) The record is kind of a post-rap masterpiece.

Gregory Pepper has an almost Kurt Cobain vibe, though I hope he isn't. It's the far away eyes, and the listless apathy combined with obvious intelligence and an observant ability to make mundane sh*t sound brilliant ("You'll never hear me Twitter about it…"). There is the obvious humor, At the Grindcore Show, Safe Word Play, and Hannibal Lecture, juxtaposed by the lush emotion bleeding, pleading throughout Please Stop. Each track represent what seems to be a genuine collaboration manifested through mutual respect for what each artists brings to the table. Common Grackle truly marry their talents.

Factor does what a good producer should do in this situation. He doesn't get in the way. That is in no way an insult. It's like a great coach altering his philosophy to fit the specific talents of his players. On the Ron Contour collaboration there was way more boom bap-ness and chunked out sampling. Here, there are more atmospheric background noises, tinkling keys, and string noodling and strumming throughout. The whole time though, and this is what makes The Great Depression f***ing kill, the drums. They are very present, but not intrusive. They are solid, organic even, driving the record between destinations born in dreamy introspection AND outright head-nodding breaks.

With collaboration from label-founder Ceschi and even an ill-as-sh*t cameo by none other than Mr. Ultramagnetic Kool Keith, this record is destined for classic status. It might be ahead of it's time, or right on time, but for my starving ears this sh*t is way past due.


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