Having played with the likes of Alkaline Trio, The Suicide Machines The Vandals, and Walls of Jericho, it’s safe to say that Derek Grant is a veteran drummer of the punk scene. But what happens when a drummer like Grant picks up other instruments and records songs all by himself? The “Love Is a Bad Dream” single is what happens. The single acts as a precursor to Grant’s upcoming solo album (which will be released in January 2015), presenting a different side to him that doesn’t often get heard from behind the drumkit.
Since Grant is primarily recognized as a drummer, he has free reign to do pretty much whatever he wants here, musically speaking, without having to worry about endless comparisons to his main band. And he takes full advantage of that, showing off his guitar chops and going in a sonic direction that could be described as “singer-songwriter heavily influenced by the 80’s”. If you’ve heard some of Grant’s MySpace demos from a few years ago, you can kind of know what to expect.
“Love Is a Bad Dream” is a midtempo rocker, with twangy guitars all around, minimal distortion, and lyrical downers such as “Every nightmare starts with you back in my arms” and “Lying here in bed, the pills do me no good / wishing I could die, I know you wish I would”. This is the type of song that would make a great soundtrack to a late night alone with Jack Daniels.
The B-side “Don’t Marry Me”, on the other hand, sounds something straight out of a John Hughes film, if John Hughes films ended with the main characters breaking up. The lack of the slide guitar, and the driving synth, give the song a slightly more upbeat (or at least more of an ‘in-your-face’) feel, although the lyrics and Grant’s low rasp keep it grounded in the same misery that make up the A-side.
“Love Is a Bad Dream” offers a taste of what to expect off of Grant’s upcoming record, Break Down, and while it’s a surprisingly good taste, it’s also a very small one. With only two songs, the replay value begins to shrink after the fifth or sixth listen in a row (admittedly, this could just be a personal complaint). But aside from that, this is a good introduction of what to expect when you give the drummer some.
3.5 / 5 Stars
RIYL: Ryan Adams, Chris Wollard & the Ship Thieves, Sam Russo