THE GRIP WEEDS
"How I Won the War"
Jem (MVD7134A CD)
By John M. Borack
On the most excellent “How I Won the War,” New Jersey’s fab Grip Weeds offer up 17 swirling, slightly trippy sonic land mines that are simultaneously catchy as all get out and slightly dangerous, to boot. The ‘Weeds rock like mad (“Rise Up”), write pitch-perfect, rockin’ pop numbers (“Rainbow Quartz”) and imbue each and every tune with ace musicianship, urgent vocals and sparkling, inventive arrangements that never leave the melody behind.
Beatlephiles will recognize “How I Won the War” and the band’s name as the title of a 1967 film featuring John Lennon and the character he played (Musketeer Gripweed), respectively. The Grip Weeds’ definitely have that ‘60s-ish vibe happening, but their sound is firmly planted in the here and now: the guitars alternately ring and bite, Kurt Reil’s drums are across-the-board amazing (think Keith Moon) and the lead vocals of Kurt Reil and his brother Rick help put each of the 13 tracks across with flair and passion. (There are 17 tracks total, four of them brief interstitial instrumental pieces.) When lead guitarist Kristin Pinell adds her harmony vocals to the mix, the results are quite effective indeed, and Pinell’s lone lead vocal here, the sweetly mellow “Over and Over,” makes one wish for more.
From the album-opening title cut, with its military-style drums, close harmonies and powerful instrumental attack to the final song, a spirited, faithful run through of the Beatles’ “The Inner Light,” the quality is of a consistently high level. Many of the lyrics deal with conflict and resolution, which speak to some of the problems the band faced during the recording of the album. Ultimately though, the group was able to push through the issues (which included losing their previous bass player and replacing him with Dave DeSantis) and produce their finest, most cohesive collection of songs to date.
“How I Won the War” is polished, damned-near-perfect garage pop for the masses, and it’s sure to wind up on many year-end “best of” lists. Don’t miss it. www.gripweeds.com