May 10, 2015
The Grip Weeds – How I Won the War(Jem recordings www.jemrecordings.com)
The Grip Weeds clearly do not know what decade this is and they do not care. How I Won the War could be described as a “Maximum R&B” record a la old posters of The Who. With jangling guitar, soaring, richly harmonic Byrds-style vocals, and trippy tales of rainbow quartz and inner lights, this Jersey act is more of a Mersey act. For people who routinely enjoy having a Sunday morning “Breakfast with the Beatles” or find themselves
puttering around an Underground Garage, How I Won the War is a seventeen-song celebration of beautiful songwriting from four highly gifted players who took the name for this record from a 1968 film starring John Lennon. There elements of sugary pop-rock, particularly “Life Saver” and “Heaven and Earth”, two songs on which guitarist Kristin Pinell truly shines, but even in this lighthearted moments, there is a depth to the playing that prevents the Grip Weeds from simply trying to recapture the innocence of Meet the Beatles or Out of Our Heads. This is made abundantly clear on the stunning “Force of Nature” and the equally emotive “Other Side of Your Heart”. Kurt and Rick Reil have the type of vocal interplay that only siblings can share, and even if the band has suffered through personal struggles, the euphoria heard throughout War makes that difficult to believe. This is not a blindly optimistic record, but rather one that is cautiously celebratory. There is a gamete of emotions explored throughout the vast canvas of the disc, and the Grip Weeds can move easily between soul churning honesty and giggling pop goodness.