August 26, 2015
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME
By Michael McDowell
CDs - NEW RELEASES
HOW I WON THE WAR -
The Grip Weeds (Jem)
What is a second and third generation garage rock-inspired band and/or solo artist to do when it at last becomes apparent to them that paying consistent homage to the first generation visionaries that inspired them can actually hinder them from furthering their own mission statement?
The better ones (such as Jeremy Morris) instead press ahead with their own vision. In the process, they create a rich body of original material that can arguably hold its own alongside the legacies of those who initially inspired them.
Given their long standing deference to a certain omnipresent Merseyside-based quartet of some renown, such a declaration of independence could just as easily be an albatross around the collective neck of the ever diligent Highland Park, New Jersey band, the Grip Weeds. Indeed, even their very name pays direct homage to one of that band's ranks.
A noble sentiment for those who are so disposed, to be certain. But ultimately such pandering can generate misdirected and/or overinflated expectations amongst the band's faithful.
That reality has apparently availed itself to the Grip Weeds.
“All bands go through their rough periods, and the Grip Weeds are no exception”, said lead guitarist Kristin Pinnell.
“Being in a band with my husband and brother-in-law is a double-edged sword. The familial bond helps us endure some situations that usually kill other bands off. Conversely, it’s tougher to leave arguments in the studio when your bandmates are also your family.”
In their most recent and aptly named Jem Records release, How I Won The War, the Grip Weeds met this potential identity crisis head on and emerged victorious. Band members credit new bassist Dave DeSantis for providing the inspiration to reassess priorities.
The resultant seventeen track album finds the band sounding refreshingly independent of such concerns. From the mid-tempo, Yes-flavored Other Side Of Your Heart to the Salvation Army/Three O’Clock-ish See Yourself, the Grip Weeds have taken decisive steps to adapt a broader perspective, drawing from inspirations only when doing so serves to enhance their collective vision.
The high drama of Vanish underscores the point, as does the engagingly Amon Düül II-like Force Of Nature. And as if to solidify the decisive break with obligatory deference, the Grip Weeds close the proceedings with a spirited cover of George Harrison’s 1968 romp, The Inner Light (Capitol 2138).
As has been the case with many of their fellow aspirants to the legacy of the genre, the Grip Weeds have at last sufficiently come to terms with their own vision. In the process, they can press ahead and pursue a legacy that stands on its own merits. For them and others of similar intent, such ambition is certain to ultimately prove to be a Life Saver.