Grandson: “A Modern Tragedy Vol. 1” Review

In today’s music scene, rock music with political undertones isn’t as prevalent as it was at the beginning of the punk rock scene. But with the current socioeconomic state of America, many artists are using their platform to speak out against injustice. Grandson has been making waves in the music scene with his politically charged singles such as “Thoughts & Prayers” and “Bills.” He has not been afraid of getting political with his work in the past and he definitely is not shying away from it now with his five-track EP. Grandson, Fueled By Ramen’s newest artist, released his first EP titled a modern tragedy vol. 

With this five song EP, grandson shows us he is not afraid of social commentary and getting political within his music. The EP is not only thought provoking but makes listeners want to dance with the heavy beat drops and guitar riffs that make you head bang uncontrollably-- I would know, I almost slipped in the shower because I was jamming out too hard.

The artist stated in an interview with Alternative Press that  “a modern tragedy vol. 1… is a sort of state of the union as told from a fed up, disenfranchised, pissed off young poet.” 

Anger and frustration play a major role in this EP’s theme. 

“This is the only way I know how to release my anger and frustration with the pervasive recklessness and corruption that seeps into how we treat the environment, how we treat one another and how we treat ourselves,” said grandson.

The songs all relate to political concerns and current events, such as police brutality, job loss and the opioid crisis. Grandson’s music is not afraid of confronting problems within modern America and he is using his platform as a musician to create an impact on this generation. This EP could easily be a soundtrack to a riot.

 

1. BLOOD//WATER

He released the music video for the first track “Blood // Water” recently, check it out here. “Blood//Water” is a powerful statement about corporate greed. It questions how far they will go for money as well as what they will do when karma catches up to them. In the description of the music video, grandson writes: “Blood//Water is about WHEN- not IF- the various manifestations of the shitstorm that is karma shows up for those who have done wrong. It could be a climate disaster, or a revolution by the people - something is coming, and when it shows up, will they beg? Offer money? Admit their wrongdoing? What will they do when it comes for them, when there is blood in the water?” This track truly sets up the mood for the album. 

2. STICK UP

The second track is titled “Stick Up,” and it follows the story of a man named Tommy, a father of two, pushed to the edge by the disenfranchisement of the middle-class people. He has lost his job, doesn’t know how to provide for his family and launches an attack on Washington because he believes that they have failed him. This is the most rock sounding song on the EP, with a large focus on guitar rather than the electronics. 

3. DESPICABLE

“Despicable” is definitely the odd one out of the EP, being that it isn’t about the government or social issues, but more so about the narrator struggling with himself. This dark song seems to follow a relationship that ends on account of grandson’s lack of self-worth. He says he sent his lover a letter in the mail claiming he was doing her a favor by disappearing. Albeit it feels seemingly misplaced on the EP the song is one of my favorites. I enjoy the emotion in his voice, it sounds like grandson is yelling “if I were you I wouldn’t love me either.” The raw human emotion of despising oneself makes this song very lyrically interesting and intense. 

4. 6:00

The fourth and fifth track are tied for my absolute favorites. “6:00” is about the police brutality that we constantly see every time we turn on the news. The song builds tension musically and lyrically throughout. The chorus is remnant of the death of Mike Garner:

 

“How can we stand by?

Yesterday, I turned on the TV

I saw another man down

He was screaming

He can't breathe no more

He held his hands high

But then he got struck down

Oh, he got struck down

I saw the body drop

On the 6 o'clock”

 

It signifies the way the American people feel about hearing the same story over and over and tensions between citizens and cops. It begs the question: what can we do to stop another person from becoming a hashtag?

5. OVERDOSE The last track ends the EP on a darker note. The song details the opioid crisis and how people are relying on these drugs and developing dependencies on them. The ending of the song is what takes the cake for me. The song is very simple music until it explodes into the ending with loud distorted guitars and the last lyric: “all fun and games till I hit the floor, comatose, overdose” and the music just drops out. 

Final Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this EP. I think that this generation needs an artist like grandson to inspire their voices. This is music for the leaders of a revolution. Though the lyrics are very well written and impactful, the constant use of explosive breakdowns makes the EP slightly predictable. But overall, this a modern tragedy vol. 1is seamless with its mixture of rap and rock, and songs like “Despicable” left me fiending for a part two of a modern tragedy vol. 1. I can’t wait for an LP from grandson, he is like a Banksy of the music industry and I look forward to more music from him in the future.