Star Ledger
Newark, NJ

New Grip from the House of Vibes
Retro Rock
"House of Vibes Revisited"
The Grip Weeds
(Ground Up)

The House of Vibes in the title of this album refers to the Highland Park studio where New Jersey's Grip Weeds recorded their 1994 debut album, "House of Vibes." The studio is still there, as is the band, which remixed and remastered the original 12 songs and added nine bonus tracks (three demos and six live recordings) plus interview snippets for this reissue.

A deluxe reissue? For a low-budget album that was released on the band's own small label just 13 years ago, and failed to become a commercial hit?

It doesn't seem to make sense. But keep in mind that "House of Vibes" was, and is, an indie-pop gem-- the kind of unassuming but immaculately crafted album that is constantly rediscovered by new fans of the genre. Also, the band has gained some new enthusiasts via the current garage-rock revival (such as Steven Van Zandt, who included the band's "Love's Lost on You" on his new compilation album, "Little Steven's Underground Garage Presents The Coolest Songs in the World! Vol. 2").

In 1994, the Grip Weeds consisted of brothers Rick Reil on guitar and Kurt Reil on drums, along with bassist Mick Hargreaves and guitarist Kristin Pinell. (Everybody sang, though the brothers handled most of the leads.) Since then, Hargreaves has been replaced by Michael Kelly, though Hargreaves helped with the remixing here.

Throughout the album, the band displays an obvious affection for 60's rock, with driving rhythms, muscular guitar riffs, rich harmony vocals, and frequent echoes of the Beatles, the Byrds, the Yardbirds, the Who and other bands. The catchiest song, "Realize" appears as both a power-pop raveup and a gentler psychedelic-rocker (titled "Realise") featuring flute and sitar.

The bonus tracks include covers that offer further evidence of the band's '60s fixation: Fleetwood Mac's "One Sunny Day," the Blue Things' "It Ain't No Big Thing, Babe" and the traditional "Good Shepherd" (with an arrangement inspired by the Jefferson Airplane's 1969 version). The best bonus, though, is a fast and furious live recording of a Grip Weeds original, "Out of Today."

Download this: "Realize"

-Jay Lustig