Born in Kyoto, Japan and raised in Southern California, 19-year-old Yoodoo Park is the man behind indie rock outfit GRMLN. In the summer of 2010 in between sessions on his surfboard, Park began recording guitar-driven dream-pop in his garage to soundtrack the journeys in his car. Park chose the name GRMLN to echo the feelings of otherworldliness and disconnect he felt during those summers. Currently a student at the University of California Santa Cruz, Park pens songs there when he’s away from his makeshift recording studio and his live band, in which he plays with his brother. Entitled Explore, Yoodoo’s debut EP is just that: a young artist inspired by the scenery of his coastal surroundings, discovering and developing his singular voice to create a wistful palette of blues, greens and golds.
On Explore, Park pairs clean, jangly guitars and strong backbones of bass with his yearning, muted vocals that employ reverb to soften, not distort. GRMLN’s sound may be unmistakably Californian, but there’s a sense of nostalgia that pervades Explore, hearkening back to Park’s roots in Japan, where he still spends every summer. Tracks like album opener “Relax Yourself (Dolphin Cry)” and the slow-burning “Live.Think.Die” encapsulate the wistful aesthetic of Explore, with twinges of heartbreak and melancholy tales of wasted youth darkening the album’s summertime mood. “Patio” brings Explore to a close on a restless note with one of the album’s most soaring melodies, bolstered by haunting harmonies that build a feeling of despair lingering on far after the album’s final minor key. Explore is a bittersweet portrait of a young man, making music to catalogue his memories as they slip away with every passing California sunset.
GRMLN is the musical project of 21-year-old, Yoodoo Park. He was born in Kyoto, Japan and moved to southern California at a young age (though he still goes back to Japan every summer). Yoodoo started playing music at the age of 13 when he was given a bass guitar and has been playing music ever since.
During the summer of 2010, Yoodoo started recording relaxing songs for himself to listen to in his car during lazy summer afternoons. The Explore EP, captures this time in Yoodoo’s life with clean sounding guitar rhythms and a mixture of drowsy melodies. Yoodoo’s 2013 full-length, Empire, was less of a follow-up and more of a departure. Empire’s upbeat rock songs and ‘90s pop-punk influenced sound eventually led to the alternatively stormy and peaceful tunes of Soon Away. The new album is much more aggressive than previous releases—a world away from the dreamy sweetness of Explore. Soon Away reflects on the desires and regrets that come with age and experience. It’s GRMLN’s most mature work yet, and also the band’s catchiest.
1. Relax Yourself (Dolphin Cry)
6. Summer Nights