Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Reviews:: Grand Ole Party Humanimals

There are certain bands that you listen to for fifteen second and just know every single site will be writing the same things within a few minutes. Normally, we kind of don't bother with those bands because you've already read about it countless times before you stumble on the hill.

Well, when it comes to Grand Ole Party, I don't think it matters much. This snotty, three-piece from LA is going to be big. Very big. Start of by picturing the White Stripes fronted by a brash female. Now picture big riffs, big drums and sweat flying around the dance floor. Picture grit, power, and sex. Picture all that and more and you are starting to see the charcoal sketching of Grand Ole Party front woman Kristin Gundred.

The record starts with some shimmering guitar notes and simple kick drum stomp of Look Out Young Son, and unconsciously your head starts to nod. Then you are hit in the grill with Kristin's lyrics and Grand Ole Party becomes one of your new favorite bands. The raw emotion of her words fit the simplistic, head nodding music perfectly and there is something sexy as hell about a female dropping bluesy rapid fire metaphors about being the devil's daughter.

The unashamed honesty (lyrics like "bastard child that I am, we can see it in my swagger" and "mama never speaks of him, cept when she's drunk and desperate") hits as hard as the crunchy guitar riff and within 30 seconds you are hooked and GOP never gives you a chance to look back. Belle Isle drops into a more funk infused realm, but rough guitar / hand clap chorus is ridiculously infectious.

Over the course of the record, Kristin establishes herself as a presence. She uses a beat poet diction (like a modern version of Jim Carroll describing the gritty streets in the late 60's - I think I jumped alongside the curb with you hotstepping street clutter. We didn't speak, just exhaled frozen words), forcing you to focus on every syllable she spits on Turn on, Burn On. The confidence she exudes is unreal. Like comparing any showman to Bolan, Bowie or Jagger there are many easy comparisons that could be made, but she's forming her own voice and deserves better than a generic type cast of the powerful female presence. When she screams "we are all going to die here, might as well say goodbye dear" on Insane, her voice cracks with emotion and it's that fragility - that little way she let's you know she is scared, but doesn't give a fuck what you think about her - that makes her so strong.

I know it seems like I'm neglecting the band, which isn't fair. The guitar work of John Paul Labno is great. Musically, its never over complex - Kristin's only been playing the drums for a couple of years and Krechnyak's bass lines never dance around your headphones - but Miles Davis said it best when he said music either make you tap your foot or it doesn't. The band never clutters the mix and you are left with a raw sound that makes your head move like a metronome but doesn't distract from the vocals, which is perfect for this type of project. If the sound was polished, it would take away everything real about it.

For a debut record, I like the variation the band employs. The spoken word narration she adds over the slinky guitar lines of Gypsy March shows the restraint the band can use, building the track slowly, before gracefully pulling back and creating that tension that makes the song crackle. With every cymbal crash you expect the pace to sky rocket out of control but it never does.

If I had any faults about this release, is it's probably a bit long. Twelve songs plus the interesting addition of the dub-reggae bonus track (Radio) could have been cut down to 10 songs and left you destroyed. As it is, you are left tingling with excitement, wondering how good Grand Ole Party are going to become.
MP3:: Look Out Young Son
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Posted at 12:01 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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