For Brooklyn band A Deer A Horse, their first full-length album Grind has been a long time coming. The band has been performing together for some time, releasing singles and EPs since 2013. Through touring and buzz, the band has built a following for their hard, grungy punk sound, and are ready for the next step.
Backswimmer and Everything Rots That Is Rotten, from 2017 and 2019 respectively, featured the same lineup as the new LP: Angela Phillips on vocals & bass guitar, Dylan Teggart on drums, and Rebecca Seatle on vocals & lead guitar. For Grind, they kept previous producer Jamie Uertz, who has worked with Anthrax and Gojira, and also recorded with Sylvia Massy, an Oregon producer who has worked with heavyweights like Tool and System of A Down.
Grind kicks off with the lead single “Bitter,” an ode to unsolicited advice. “This song comes from my lifelong experience as a fat person constantly being given unsolicited advice on how to lose weight from people who have always naturally been slender,” Phillips explains. The compelling video for “Bitter” features Phillips emerging from a TV as some sort of self-help sleazeball turned demonic stalker.
Other topics touched upon on Grind include pleasure, escapism and the fear of failure on “Panic” (as Seatle says, “Too much fear and too much pleasure are two sides of the same coin, separating us from our own futures”) and the uncovering of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church on “Give It Up.”
The production on Grind is appropriately scuzzy yet clean sounding, with no member lost in the background. There is definitely a live feel to the album, as drummer Teggart confirms: “The meat and potatoes of what you hear on Grind is the sound of the three of us trying to capture our live energy.” Indeed, it works, and even songs with a plodding quality like “Brute Force” keep the energy high. One standout track is “Dinner Theater,” romping through various dynamics and time signatures in less than four minutes,
A highlight of the album is the excellent guitar work courtesy of Seatle, who has apparently since left the band. There is a lot of loping around the fretboard, fiercely distorted, but not so much as to be unintelligible. It’s not all three-piece grit and grime on Grind, however. Synths and piano appear on several tracks, and there are even strings, with violin from Comfort Cat and cello by Kate Wakefield of Lung.
Grind is out April 8th on Bitter Records, and can be found at their Bandcamp.