Track Work: The Grey A, ‘Unusual As Usual’

By Ally Schweitzer

The Grey A combines polemic and pop on its debut album, "My Country."
The Grey A combines polemic and pop on its debut album, "My Country." Courtesy of The Grey A

There are sexual people, asexual people and those who fall somewhere in between: They’re “graysexual,” or “Gray A.” D.C. resident Gregory “Grey” Jacks named his band after the term. It refers to people who take “no position,” Jacks writes in an email—but the songwriter himself seems to have plenty of those, at least on the subject of politics.

greya-mycountryThe Grey A’s new record My Country puts a corrupt and rapacious elite in its crosshairs. The album’s cover art—a dramatic image of a bleak sky hanging over a crowded National Mall—speaks to the theme. Over 11 songs, Jacks pairs pop with polemic, sometimes to jarring effect (lyrics like “We devalue life/Grind it into dollar signs/Till the profits rise/For the wealthy and amused” sound great in a Crass song, but in piano pop?).

Track No. 3 is where he finds his sweet spot: “Unusual As Usual” attacks the impunity of the 1 percent with fistfuls of horns and crunchy guitar. “It’s sneeringly accepting that the level of criminality from the powerful is rife,” Jacks writes, “and it seems no one’s going to do anything about it.”

My Country is The Grey A’s debut album, but Jacks says he’s been working on it for four years. The 30-something went to school in Tennessee and lived for a time in Murfreesboro, where he played guitar with twangy indie-rock band Glossary. Faint traces of his old band turn up on My Country.

The Grey A plays a release show tonight at Comet Ping Pong, just a week after Jacks’ most recent concert, for which he says he performed with a three-piece horn section and two backing vocalists. But that show didn’t happen here—it went down in a city known more for its tunes than its lefty ideology: Nashville, Tennessee.

The Grey A, Kevin Dudley and Matt Tarka perform tonight at 10 p.m. at Comet Ping Pong.