Slip Inside This House

Gris Gris frontman Greg Ashley makes pop oddities with pocket change

The soft focus approach is integral to Ashley's work, whether it's embedded in his narratives or infused into genres (folk, free jazz, garage, Latino and Middle Eastern music, among others) that move through one another like dreams. Painted Gardenis less the pillowy whispers of Medicine and more the rocky psych ride given in Gris Gris records, with multiple directional shifts. The new disc flirts with homemade Tropicalia on "Sailing With Bobby," featuring chirping birds and the downy coo of a female singer, incorporated due to Ashley's affection for Brazilians Os Mutantes and the loungy Martin Denny. "Fisher King" also maintains an island vibe, albeit with arsenic spiking cocktail beats; lyrics tell of "gettin' high on a balcony hangin' from a string/ pick up your spoon, cook up your breakfast sad fisher king," against clattering percussion that mimics utensils cracking glass. Shifting moods again, "Pretty Belladonna" performs a tear-blurred waltz to a crush already spoken for.

The songs reveal his disappointments with artifice or romantic archenemies — sex bludgeoned by cheap bargaining, a foe acting "like a dollar bill that's waitin' for the powder," landscapes pocked with whores who douse their faces in garish hues. But Ashley's songs are single-edged swords, offering tender images of, say, the desire to make a girl blush, earnestness struggling up from within cynicism's hard crevices.

Greg Ashley: the indie inventor who captured Wayne Coyne's ear.
Greg Ashley: the indie inventor who captured Wayne Coyne's ear.


Greg Ashley performs twice this week: once with Gris Gris as part of Noise Pop (opening for the Ponys) on Saturday, March 3, at Bottom of the Hill at 9 p.m. Admission is $10-$12; visit for more info. Ashley's solo release party is on Tuesday, March 6 at 12 Galaxies at 9 p.m. Admission is $7; call 970-9777 or visit for more info.
Bottom of the Hill, 12 Galaxies

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Ashley's music doesn't offer emotions that can be easily text messaged. He holds old-fashioned beliefs about what can't be bought — whether the subject concerns quick rendezvous or recording studios. As Birdman's Katznelson says in semi-seriousness, "[Ashley] is a total romantic, and his records are fantastic to have sex to." And, well, regardless of whether you use Painted Gardento compliment a set of satin sheets, Ashley's Wonderland charm places a warm halo between you and the rest of the hustle. It's a cozy place to settle — even with the painted ladies lurking for dollar-bill boys around the corner.

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