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Bryant Eugene Vazquez | photo by Bob Sweeney | courtesy of the artist

Grey Expectations is the latest full-length from prolific singer-songwriter Bryant Eugene Vazquez. He’s covered a lot of stylistic ground since he began releasing music in 2008, and this time around, he’s going full shoegaze for a chilly, eight song set. With song titles like “Shivers, Shivers” and “Still Cold” you’re going to want to put on a few extra layers for this one.

According to Vazquez, this album was an experiment in writing pop songs “disguised to replicate the sounds of mid-80s/early-90s noise/pop/rock/shoegaze”, with all of the them “themed around the bitterness of winter”. If you’re a fan of that era of music, you’ll definitely find a lot to like here, as he follows through on that mission statement to a T. The production is crowded and fuzzy, the guitars and tinny and abrasive, and Vazquez’s vocals are more breathy and buried than ever before.

More than anyone else, though, Grey Expectations is indebted to The Jesus & Mary Chain. Their genre-pioneering influence is all over this thing,like on “Freezerburn”, which sounds eerily similar to “Just Like Honey”. That track is followed by two more slow-burners in “Hindsight 20/20” and “Shivers, Shivers”, all of which are perfect for the dreary weather we’ve been having recently. Afterwards, we’re treated to the album’s most upbeat, poppy moment in “S.A.D.”, which features repeatedly intoning the lines “I’m gonna’ waste my time/I’m gonna’ waste my life” over its brief, two minute run-time.  The album gets noisier and noisier in its back half with tracks like “Yer My Summer” and “Thawing”, culminating in the nosebleed-inducing title track. Vazquez may be wearing his influences on his sleeve here, but he’s doing them justice.

Grey Expectations is out now via Vazquez’s bandcamp. You can watch the video for “Freezerburn”, which was shot and directed by Bob Sweeney, below.

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