November 2001

The Grip Weeds
Summer Of A Thousand Years
(Rainbow Quartz)

The Grip Weeds obviously worship the classic rock of the 60s—echoes of the Byrds, the Who and Buffalo Springfield, not to mention the Kinks, the Beatles and the Move, are everywhere on their third album Summer of a Thousand Years. But the New Jersey quartet is no nostalgia act. They're not trying to ape the past, but build upon it. With a skilled, versatile rhythm section and an exceptionally potent combination of jangling 12-string and crunchy lead guitars, the band sets up an instantly appealing wall of sound; their smooth harmonies are a bonus. Songwriters Rick Reil and Kurt Reil generate layered, carefully crafted morsels of pop 'n' roll that nod toward their influences without copying them—they use the same box of paints but come up with different canvases.

The openers "Save My Life" and "She Surrounds Me" pack the kind of one-two punch that guarantees close attention; "Changed" and "Love's Lost on You" are even better, bringing the album to a dizzy mid-point peak. The Reils' tunes are so good that a cover of Pete Townshend's Who Sell Out gem "Melancholia" fits right in without overshadowing the group's originals. If the band has a flaw, it's that they don't have any truly outstanding singers, but that's a minor complaint, as the vocals are never less than pleasant. A summer this nice should last a lot longer than a mere millennium. -- Michael Toland