City Paper is not for tourists
Jeff Gramm has a pronounced stutter. But on Aden’s self-titled debut, his crooning is as smooth as glass.
“I could sing in conversation and I wouldn’t stutter. It’s just how vocal cords work,” Gramm explains. “If I talk to you smooth,” almost monotonically, “like that, I usually don’t have a problem stuttering.” It’s a trick Gramm learned through years of speech classes. “And in truth it works, but I was always a bit too insecure [about speaking so smoothly]. Which makes no sense, because talking like that isn’t quite as strange as stuttering a lot,” he laughs.
Gramm sings with an airy voice, melancholically reciting tale after tale of lost and unrequited love. (An unscientifically compiled concordance of Gramm’s lyrics lists “cry” 497 times.) But Gramm says his heartbreaking words didn’t come out of a real-life breakup.
“It’s the easiest stuff to churn out, relationship stuff,” he admits. “Once I learned I could write songs, I started to write [the music] faster than I could write the lyrics, which when we recorded became a problem. I had to write a whole bunch of lyrics, which is why a bunch of them have the same type of relationship lyrics.” And besides, Gramm protests, “who cares about the lyrics? It’s the music that really matters.”
The quartet’s soft, dreamy pop avoids redundancy thanks to full arrangements featuring Gramm’s quietly confident voice and the rolling, melodic bass lines of Fred Kovey, whose style is as important to Aden as Naomi Yang’s was to Galaxie 500. By keeping the songs short and the hooks sharpthe CD’s 13 songs clock in at 33 minutesthe band doesn’t overstay its welcome.
The Adeneers recently relocated back to D.C., from which three of the four originate, after attending the University of Chicago. Gramm figures that the band is going to tour so much that it only makes sense to move home and live with his ‘rents rent-free. The jobless son of Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) jokes, “Right now, I’m just a bum.”Christopher Porter
Aden, however, will be working when it plays the Black Cat, Sunday, July 6, with the Castaway Stones.