August 6, 2003

The Grip Weeds : The Sound Is In You

The Grip Weeds
The Sound is In You
Rainbow Quartz

In an age where hyper-speed internet, inane cell phone blather and overblown/overpriced made-to-order pop gibbons are the order of the day, it's refreshing to hear a band as willfully dedicated to the spirit and resolve of the swinging sixties as The Grip Weeds. They look the part, act the part and perhaps most importantly, their throwback sound is pure Carnaby Street circa 1966. Their list of heroes and influences may read like a classic rock 101 textbook -- Kinks, Small Faces and The Who -- but when a band projects so much of themselves into their otherwise familiar resonance, it's difficult to chide them for being derivative.

It's telling, then, that this New Jersey-based quartet are named in honor of Private Gripweed, John Lennon's character in How I Won the War -- they wear their latter-day Beatles influences like badges of honor, channeling the paisley power of Revolver, the drunken majesty of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the whimsical emotional turmoil of Let it Be into their addled sound. But the Fab Four aren't the only Liverpudlians from which The Sound is in You draws influence; they tip their hats to star-crossed Beatles-proteges Badfinger with the sweetly soulful "We're Not Getting Through" and "Games", while the swooning "Morning Rain" could be a lost Gerry and the Pacemakers B-Side. The soaring "Strange Bird" even suggests Wings at their peak.

To insure that this power-pop gem isn't lost within the annals of classic rock lore, Rainbow Quartz has lovingly reissued, repackaged and remastered The Sound is in You to include beefed-up liners and a pair of previously-unreleased bonus cuts: the blistering psychedelic joyride "Lazy Day" (originally by the Left Banke) and the group's rollicking version of the Move's "I Can Hear the Grass Grow", filled with honey-dipped guitars and delicious "Sugar Sugar" harmonies.

Like former contemporaries Redd Kross and Jellyfish, The Grip Weeds understand that, to a vast majority of music fans, a punchy two-and-a-half minutes means far more than any three-disc prog-epic ever could. There will always be a market for smartly-crafted songs with jarring hooks and sing-along choruses. The Sound is in You's real magic lies in its ability to transport listeners to a simpler time -- a time when 45s were a quarter, bands wrote tunes rather than sermons, and the information superhighway wasn't even a twinkle in Al Gore's eye.

-- Jason Jackowiak