The Grip Weeds: How I Won The War
With a band name and album title subtly referencing John Lennon, it's no surprise that The Grip Weeds like The Beatles and yet with everything from The Kinks to Honeycrack and Cosmic Rough Riders to The Byrds influencing, the result is a serious dose of power pop. What is maybe more surprising is that this lot aren't a more familiar name, given that How I Won The War is the band's tenth album and that it's pretty much bang on the money. Very much a family affair, what with lead vocalist, drummer, guitarist keyboard player Kurt Reil being the brother of singer, guitarist, keyboard player Rick and husband of guitarist, singer, flautist Kristen Pinell – the unrelated Dave DeSantis plays bass – The Grip Weeds' "war" is as much about the inner conflicts of family and band as it is a comment on the wider world. A factor which adds intrigue to already biting lyrics. As ever those lyrics work best when contrasted against sublime melodies, killer hooks and seductive harmony vocals; all of which The Grip Weeds are positively dripping with.
Throughout, the gently psychedelic jangle of guitars drive this collection of thirteen tracks and four instrumentals with a real sense of purpose and when everything in sight contains a hook or chorus to latch on to with a real sense of confidence, it becomes impossible to ignore how assured this album is. "Life Saver" and "Rise Up" are two of the more immediate moments, vocal lines lodged straight in the memory banks, although there's a real hidden depth to the likes of "Other Side Of Your Heart", or "See Yourself" where less of a reliance on instant dazzle, draws more from the songs on each subsequent visit.
Interestingly the short instrumentals really are just that, "Sounder" a twenty second intro to the harmony vocal driven "Force Of Nature", while "Crossfire", "Truce" and "aka Victory" serve as nice little scene setting breaks from the full on catchy pop songs. Clever pacing and enticing intricacies of this nature help raise How I Won The War above mere simple pop album and bring it to a status of greater depth and meaning and when you factor in that instruments such as harpsichord, lapsteel, wurlitzer, minimoog, electric sitar, Hammond/farfisa organ and flute are expertly introduced across the album, you can also rest assured that The Grip Weeds have a serious eye for detail.
Who knew that wars could be won with well placed guitars, a bank of vocals and choruses of quite gigantic stature? The Grip Weeds, that's who. Let them show you how.
1. How I Won The War
2. Rise Up
3. Follow Me Blind
4. Life Saver
5. Other Side Of Your Heart
6. See Yourself
8. Sounder (instr)
9. Force Of Nature
10. Crossfire (instr)
11. Heaven And Earth
12. Over And Over
13. Rainbow Quartz
14. Truce (instr)
15. Lead Me To It
16. Aka Victory
17. The Inner Light
Added: June 30th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Grip Weeds online
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