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Gray Somers is a humble, yet self-assured and tenacious man. It is this appealing mixture of qualities, topped off with a knack for catchy, foggy surf rock, which makes him such an immediate draw. And after years of working as a musician in Boston and Philadelphia, Somers, recording under the moniker Steep Leans, has assembled a crew of quality instrumentalists and shared his debut record, Grips On Heat.

The record, which is being released on Wavves' Ghost Ramp label, is a fascinating brand of music that opens up and expands where most bands of a similar sort choose to narrow and simplify.

Across the album's eight tracks, the rain-soaked asphalt tones of tracks like 'Navigator In The Night' and 'Wolves On The Mend' allow for Somers' warm, lo-fi vocals to saunter in over his well-crafted melodies. Lead single 'Nightmare City' is perhaps the best example of this fine-tuned formula, with slinky, sultry guitars accompanying Somers' moody declarations: "It's so shitty, you're so pretty, I'm on a dead trip cruising to nightmare city."

Performing live, Somers is joined by bassist Chris Balzotti, guitarist Cory Jackson and drummer Chris Eddleston, all of whom are skilled beyond their relatively limited mainline experience at their instruments. Balzotti's grooving bass and Eddleston's steady beats ground the band's sound, while Jackson's reverb-laden guitar fills in the lead melodies over Somers' rhythms with expert precision. Their live set is just getting its first real test on their current U.S. tour with Wavves and Twin Peaks, but it has already proven itself to be an instant gem.

So much of Grips On Heat takes place in the dark. Considering that Grips On Heat developed in the aftermath of a number of personal tragedies for Somers--losing a number of recordings to technical failure, the end of a long-term relationship and the death of a family member--this is not a surprise. But what makes the record such a skilled debut is how Somers is able to cast light into the gloom and deliver a tangible snapshot of wandering around alone in the night.

At 29 years of age, Somers is a little more aged than your typical lo-fi debuting surf rock musician, but with age comes wisdom (typically) and his years meandering about the Northeast of the United States have paid major dividends. Steep Leans will certainly be one to watch in the coming years, and Grips On Heat is a top-flight debut.

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