November 2001

Kurt Reil
Creating The Right Vibe

If ever a band was deserving of wider exposure, it's The Grip Weeds. The basic Grip Weeds concept is combining the jangle-pop wonders of The Byrds with the rocking rhythm sections of The Move and The Who. The band executes this concept to perfection aided by an abundance of talent. Rick Reil, Kurt Reil and Kristin Pinell have a splendid three-part harmony sound and are all adept lead vocalists. Pinell is a spectacular lead guitarist, who is given a gigantic canvas to work on, as Michael Nattboy is a dexterious and melodic bass player and Kurt Reil merits favorable comparisons to skin pounders like Keith Moon, Clem Burke and Brad Elvis. If this quartet got a chance to open for Wilco on a national tour, the buzz would quickly become deafening.

Because The Grip Weeds also have the songs. Oodles of them. The most sublime is "Rainy Day # 3", a folk-popper with bouncy Beau Brummels-style verses that travel a bridge to a breathtaking harmony filled chorus. Pinnell's pithy harmonica fills and economical lead guitar are just further ornamentation on this jewel of a tune. An instant classic.

The title song is another hallmark, an epic disc closer, with a balls out vocal by Kurt, ominous verses, a great psych-folk chorus and a general build of passion throughout the tune. Andy Burton contributes some spooky mellotron business midway through the tune that adds to the atmosphere. The instrumental breakdown at the end (while the mellotron is stuck on the 'eerie' setting) is a welcome release of tension. The convergence of the band's instrumental talents is fully spotlighted on "Changed". At its heart a simple mid-tempo number, the song is elevated by the rumbling bottom provided by Kurt Reil and Nattboy, Rick Reil contributes a fine lead vocal and layers of rhythm guitars, while Pinnell dazzles the way a lead guitarist should -adding to the song's vibe, not overwhelming it. Oh, and she plays sitar during the song's ending coda.

The band's reach never exceeds its grasp, whether it's the pretty "Future Move" ("when I caught your eye/I felt the future move" - great lyric!), the rocking "She Surrounds Me" (with Pinell's guitar line doubling the vocal melody) or the jangle-chug of "Love's Lost on You". Pinell's lead vocal turn is a winner, on a well-chosen cover of The Who's "Melancholia", a song that fits perfectly within the Weeds' sensibility.

While The Grip Weeds remind me of a lot of bands, there is no band that sounds quite like The Grip Weeds. I wish more bands did.