Grocer Takes “Dork Rock” From South Philly to the World with “Blue Danube”

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“A little under eight years ago in Brooklyn, Danielle [Lovier] and I dreamt up the idea of all boy/all girl, an unwieldy and ambitious 7-piece ensemble playing contemporary-classical-influenced indie rock,” Nicholas Rahn wrote, last year, in a letter pinned to the band’s final bandcamp release–a heartfelt, hodgepodge EP released on Christmas Eve. Its closing number, “RIP NYC,” seemed to sum up the duo’s trajectory: “Rest in peace my bittersweet slice of life / it’s been hell but I’m moving out of NYC / You’re cool but I see no reason to stay / I’m off to find a better way / a nicer place on a brighter day.”

As it turns out, that place was the City of Brotherly Love. Rahn and Lovier now call South Philly home, and they’re currently gearing up to release their debut album as Grocer in May. Today they share a new single, “Blue Danube”–plus an accompanying flick–via American Songwriter.

“You gave me some value, but I’m too distracted / And I don’t see how you could find me attractive,” Rahn sings in the opening lines of the track–a snotty indie rock number that pairs the vocalist / guitarist’s self-aware songwriting with tense drums, skuzzy guitar, and thrumming bass. 

In the song, Rahn reassesses a relationship with equal parts annoyance and self-pity: “But now it’s so stupid the things that we laughed at / The jokes inexpensive, but the taxes were taxing / Our savings depleted and our needing is waxing / The waning relaxing left tensions and straining.” He continues, “It’s hard to remember the reason for dealing / It’s hard to remember the feeling of breathing / It’s hard to remember the feeling.” 

“I wrote ‘Blue Danube’ shortly after moving to Philadelphia,” Rahn tells American Songwriter. “It was the first time writing after a somewhat tumultuous exit from NYC. I was exploring some of the hardships and trials a relationship can go through and how you make the choice to keep doing it. I was probably listening to a lot of Parquet Courts at the time, and I think that informed how I was writing.”

Grocer teamed up with visuals collective Our House Help Desk for the “Blue Danube” video–a charming green screen affair that shows the band taking over an abandoned hotel in South Philly. 

“The original idea for the video started with this footage I found of a friend just walking the hallways of a building we used to live in,” explains Rahn. “I thought it’d be fun to green screen the band into the footage, but then I accidentally deleted it. So we asked our friends Kevin Block and Brian Davis, who had just started an animation/video collective called Our House Help Desk, to make the video for us. We reshot some hallway footage in and around a (mostly) abandoned hotel in South Philly and did a bunch of green screen stuff at Kevin’s house. It was actually a super fun process.”

“Blue Danube” is the second single off Grocer’s forthcoming debut album, Little Splash, following the wiry, sputtering lead single “Infinite Commuter” (“I used to be a dreamer,” Lovier sings in a particularly chilling verse, “Now I only dream when I am sleeping.”) In addition to Rahn and Lovier, the band is rounded out by guitarist Emily Daly and drummer Cody Nelson. Vocal duties are shared on the album, which was recorded by Rahn, mixed by Rahn and Machines with Magnets’ Seth Manchester, and mastered by Manchester. Listen to the “Blue Danube” and check out the video below.

Little Splash is out May 22.

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