Amplifier Magazine
December 2001

Issue 27
CD Reviews
"Amplifier Select"

The Grip Weeds
Summer of a Thousand Years
(Rainbow Quartz)

The members of the Grip Weeds have proudly worn the badges of professionalism and perfectionism since the group’s inception. Fortunately, they have the autonomy to utilize these traits, as they produce themselves and record at their home studio, the House of Vibes. When you combine all this with the immense amount of talent and drive they have (drummer Kurt Reil and guitarist Kristin Pinell are arguably the best in the business on their respective instruments, not to mention the greatest husband and wife team since anyone), it’s no surprise that they continually produce topnotch material. the group’s latest, Summer of a Thousand Years, is no exception, as the Grip Weeds take 60’s influences like the Jefferson Airplane, Kaleidoscope and other American psychedelia bands and sprinkle it with some British touches. their thick, angular harmonies, along with Reil’s decidedly Moon-esque drumming, give the music a strong, gutsy foundation. Songs like “Save My Life”, “She Surrounds Me”, “Don’t Look Over Your Shoulder” and “Love’s Lost on You” turn the knobs up to “high” on both the octane and melody gauges. Ballads like the romantic “Future Move" the recounting of emotions Reil experienced when he first met Pinell) and the dreamy “Window” will bring you gently to nirvana. The band throws a few tasty curves your way with a nice slice of hippie rock called "Changed" and an equally cool slice of raga rock called “Life and Love, times to Come”, and Pinell’s lone lead vocal on the Middle-Eastern influenced “Melancholia” will have you longing for more leads from her. Summer of a Thousand Years is one of the best albums you’ll hear this year, from one of the most capable and dedicated bands you’ll hear in your lifetime. -David Bash

The Grip Weeds discuss the songs from Summer of a Thousand Years.

Save My Life
Rick: This is a song about people who need help or guidance in desperate situations. Our answer is to look inside yourself. Kurt: Love those electric 12-strings! A “Rick” classic (both Rickenbacker and Rick Reil!).

She Surrounds Me
Kurt: The trademark Grip Weeds sound on this one: heavy but melodic with harmony vocals. Rick plays the guitar backwards through the magic of analog tape!
Rick: I like riff songs like “Paperback Writer” or “Pleasant Valley Sunday" and this song is an attempt at one of those. In some of the verses you can hear “gregorian chant” harmonies.

Rainy Day #3
Kurt: It’s called #3 for good reason- besides being a slight nod to Dylan, we cut this one 3 times before we were satisfied. This is the folk-rock version, with acoustic guitars, harmonicas and 3-part harmonies; it was inspired by backing up the legendary Beau Brummels (along with Smithereens Jim Babjak and Dennis Diken) at a show in NYC last year.
Kristin: The upbeat summery feel we finally achieved was worth the struggle. Sometimes arrangements come easy, but sometimes you have to kick things around for awhile.

Don’t Look Over Your Shoulder
Mike: This song was developed during the recording sessions for the album. Rick had a basic framework but we all just did our own thing. It’s been said that it has a Led Zeppelin-esque feel to it. You be the judge!

Is it Showing
Kurt: We kind of had to grow into this song as a band- it took us years to get it right, but I think we finally nailed it here. It’s a pretty good example of how we sound- Rick jangling on 12-string, Kristin ripping on lead guitar, Mike grooving on the lead bass lines, and me sort of train-wrecking my way through on drums! Four-part harmonies on this one top it all off...

Future Move
Kristin: Kurt wrote this one for me so when we had our rock & roll wedding last year, all the guests received a copy. We just had a couple from Australia email us and ask if they could play it at their wedding.

Kristin: I co-wrote this one with Kurt. A lot of the lyrics were “free written” in one of those late night reflective moments. We were going for melodic guitar textures in the style of “Ten Years Gone” or “Let It Grow”. We were also listening to a lot of Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” during the recording sessions.

Love's Lost on You
Kurt: Menacing but melodic, about someone who just doesn’t get what it’s all about. I can think of a few jerks who fit this description, still at large...

Kristin: There’s this dueling guitar solo with myself at the end of the first part that is like an inner battle of angst into absolute release and resolve. I also got to dust off the electric sitar on this one.

Life and Love, Times to Come
Kurt: This song is kind of a left-turn into uncharted sonic territory for the Grip Weeds. The song was written in open C tuning, and came out as an amalgamation of blues meets indian raga meets celtic music, but somehow retaining a pop sensibility, I think. Listen for the sitar, tablas, mandolin, flutes and mellotron. This is the “big production number”!

Love That Never Ends
Rick: A love song written to and about my wife, describing how we met and the profound change in my outlook as a result. It also shows how much we love "folk rock" in this band.

Mike: We all love the Who and why not pick an obscure song of theirs to do? We originally recorded this for the upcoming CD The New Sell Out: a tribute to the Who Sell Out. We were so pleased with the recording that we included it here. Kristin's vocal on this one is super cool with attitude.
Kristin: My favorite Who song and my state of mind at the time.

Moving Circle
Kurt: It’s a song about the cyclic nature of all things- the ending is a beginning. Wurlitzer electric piano and Hammond organ by our friend and “fifth Grip Weed” Andy Burton, along with some amazing bass lines by Mike. A rare Grip Weeds shuffle-beat song.

Summer of a Thousand Years:
Kristin: A place in time-the whole millennium thing-reflecting on yourself in the grand scheme of things. It also seemed like a good title for the CD as .well...

Also, in the same issue:

Rave On...
Random Musings of a (Pop) Nut
by John M. Borack

Another fine effort is the latest by the Grip Weeds, Summer of a Thousand Years. Playing up the band’s tight harmony singing and strong composing abilities- while still showcasing the peerless drumming of Kurt Reil and the psych-dipped guitar runs of Kristin Pinell- Summer shows how a band can mature without turning stale.