from evolutionary biology to punk rock to the careful strumming of a folk guitar

Yes folks, Greg Graffin, of Bad Religion fame, has a folk album. This is highly exciting because BR is one of my all-time favorite punk bands, and definitely one of the most important American punk bands ever. Greg Graffin also has, interestingly enough, a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology. He pursued his graduate degrees while touring with the band over a period of ten years, I think. This album is also exciting because I love folk music.

Cold As The Clay is to Greg Graffin what Showtunes is to Stephin Merritt. Both albums are very different from the vast majority of Graffin and Merritt's work, but still have a definite stylistic fingerprint that makes it impossible to identify the work as anyone else's.

The entire album used to be available on Greg Graffin's Myspace but now only two of the songs are available. You can listen to them all on the Amazon page.

"Talk About Suffering"

Thematically, "Talk About Suffering" is reminiscent of pretty much everything in the post "How Could Hell Be Any Worse" period. Religious undertones abound, but with its descriptions of life as "sorrowful" and the afterlife as a "gospel train," this song seems distinctly more religious than anything we'd expect from Greg. I can still easily imagine Bad Religion covering this song, though, especially, with its darkness and dynamic repetition. My only qualm is that sometimes it is *too repetitious* but it still sounds good, so I'm not complaining.

"Don't Be Afraid To..."

This is the kind of song that I would expect to hear from Bad Religion, anyway. The only real difference is the acoustic guitar, but I think part of the appeal of Greg Graffin's voice is that it is so melodious, almost too melodious for punk rock. Simultaneously, he is a significant contribution to BR's overall higher quality over most other bands in the genre. Everything sounds so perfect and beautiful, whether its acoustic enough to sway you, or whether it electrifies you to the point at which it is impossible to dance.

Both of these songs lead me to believe that Greg Graffin would have had a fairly successful career as a folk artist, even if Bad Religion had never happened. His artistic vision is dynamic enough that it can never be boring, even when repetitive. Maybe I just have a huge music crush on this man, but I really love what I've heard from this album and I can't wait to hear more.


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