January/February '99 by Timothy Gassen
More than four years passed since the Grip Weeds' excellent House of Vibes first hit my ears. Now the New Jersey quartet delivers its sophomore LP, The Sound Is In You (Buy Or Die). Why the long wait? Perhaps it's because the Grip Weeds take their time and perfect their songs. The Grip Weeds polish their Revolver-era Beatles-meets-Badfinger-and-the Who sound and hit a bull's eye for a majority of the 16 tracks. As before, the Weeds fall only when throwing in a misguided hard-rock track or two , perhaps in an attempt to show they aren't wimps. These poppers don't need such balance, as their melodic side is the strength and joy of the group.
While the Grip Weeds hone their sound upstairs, the Napoleons are in the basement, kicking over empty beer bottles and scrambling to find the light switch. Yep, the group revels in the crudest of the crude on its debut single, "In Sound Shape" (Tombstone). Led by Eric Danno (late of the Acetones), this Dutch trio probably won't play any guitar that doesn't have rust on the strings.
Question Mark & The Mysterians are one of the most surprising comeback stories of 1998, blasting international audiences to universally amazed reviews. Their recent live album was fabulous, and fans now eagerly await a new studio LP to cement their return to glory. The Norton label tantalizes us with the "Sally Go Round The Roses" 45, a taste from the upcoming album. These new sessions have all the energy, attitude and garage grit of the band's 1966 heyday. Bring on the LP!
David Allan & The Arrows are also wowing crowds with their patented fuzz-guitar attack (with Dionysus Records guru Lee Joseph lured out of retirement for the new Arrows lineup). Allan re-recorded two of his classics, "The Born Losers Theme" and "The Glory Stompers," for a Get Hip single. Coupled with the recent Total Energy reissue of his Fuzz Fest LP, Allan is poised to capture a new generation of fans.
TOP 10 GARAGE RECORDS OF 1998
1) Zombies Zombie Heaven (Big Beat)
2) Fuzztones Flashbacks (Sundazed)
3) Bomboras Head Shrinkin' Fun (Zombie A-Go-Go)
4) Question Mark & The Mysterians Can You Feel It Baby (Norton)
5) Grip Weeds The Sound Is In You (Buy Or Die)
6) Others Everything's There! (Misty Lane)
7) Chesterfield Kings Trippin' Out (Impossible)
8) Head & The Hares Autumn Songbook (Stanton Park)
9) Fortune & Maltese Fortune & Maltese (Get Hip)
10) Bronco Bullfog Bronco Bullfrog (Twist)