Michael A Grammar wrote, recorded and produced this EP during a summer spent indoors “in the cold, eerie rooms of a Victorian coach-house”. Drag the sun from the sky and throw them back in there immediately, oh and bolt the doors; Vitamin Easy is a majestic, triumph of a debut, and we want more.
The Nottingham-based foursome, originally formed in Brighton by childhood friends Joel Sayers and Frankie Mockett, are inspired by Joy Division and Radiohead, and also cite Ultimate Spinach, Stone Roses, The Breeders, Clinic, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Pink Floyd, Pixies and Broadcast as influences. Bits of The Beta Band have obviously wormed their way into their heads too, but this first offering is the result of prolonged experimentation with different sounds and recording techniques, and as such Michael A Grammar’s music is a completely unique beast.
‘Upside Down’ is five minutes of brooding, krautrock, psych-ish gorgeousness; creeping into existence on the back of drums that skitter and rumble and usher in waves of hazy guitars and layered vocals. It’s slow-paced, drone-ridden, pretty and dreamlike but there’s a subtle bite to it too as Mockett and Sayers sing of removing halos from heads. “Who knows where she’s come from, but she knows where she’s going,” they chime with a hushed malevolence, “and I cannot say the same”.
It drifts into ‘All Night Afloat’, which is a much more spiky, distorted and thrash-y affair. Layers of noise flood in as the track builds and soars, the blustery melancholy broken up by spoken-word samples, with the band ultimately driving this tumultuous creation to its ferocious close. It’s Vitamin Easy’s pinch yourself moment; the song that makes you realise Michael A Grammar could be something pretty special. ‘Light Of A Darkness’ continues in this excitingly ragged, roaring vein, as clunks and clatters and shimmering riffs collide with echo-ridden vocals before erupting into screeching, untamed Jonny Greenwood-aping solos.
Things get dark and doomy again on closer ‘King And Barnes’ as guitars that go for the gut stir up a psychedelic swirl over clicks and crashing rhythms; the quartet somehow maintaining the low brooding atmosphere that is by now their trademark while adding more and more frantic racket-making. And the way they tease the listener, pulling it all away to nothing before bombarding us with more sonic beatings only adds to the atmosphere of devilish intensity.
Michael A Grammar played their first ever show at this year’s Great Escape and we can only imagine they’re even more lose-your-shit ferocious and unsettling live. Gulp. Until we’re able to experience that, Vitamin Easy will do just fine.