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Like a band shot out of a Time Tunnel,
New Jersey's The Grip Weeds capture all that is good about late '60s pop/psych music

(Photo by Nancy Heyman)

How can I justify an album from 1998 topping my list of 2007's best? They're coming, these requests to list the best, and they're going to expect the list to reflect recent albums, albums released this year (or, at the very least, the very end of last year) and I cannot in all honesty submit a list sans The Grip Weeds' The Sound Is In You. I tried, I really did, but as I made my list the crunching guitar sounds of Every Minute grabbed my throat and my pop-enthused heart and wouldn't let go. Every bit as good as or better than (and sounding a lot like) the best tracks from two of my favorite '80s bands Hoodoo Gurus and The Rattlers, the guitars overwhelmed me until making the list seemed a bit superfluous. I mean, is it fair to the 2007 crop to bump someone to make room for a relatively unknown 1990's album/group? The answer? Who cares?! Good is good and these guys are beyond good, at least on this album.

The psych collage on Intro, which opens the album, is worth the price of admission alone. I assume that the string sounds are mellotron-induced and God knows how they get the controlled feedback guitar sound, but it is perfect at its one-minute length as it introduces the album, but more specifically the pop epic In Waking Dreams, which to my ears has the compact power The Moody Blues should have concentrated on after Days of Future Passed. It's all there--- guitar, keyboards, vocal harmonies--- in just the right amount. The more melodic and poppy Ready and Waiting follows and, hey, it doesn't stop. The sounds are pop perfect and the '60s live! The only thing missing is an overbearing twelve string (when they use one, they use it wisely), an instrument which while not done to death by pop bands these days is not done well either, on the whole.

The Sound Is In You is not all crunch. The treatment on Neil Young's Down To the Wire lives on harmonies not unlike those of the Peanut Butter Conspiracy (though the great dual guitar riffs at the end of each chorus is definitely an update in sound). The spacey keyboards of Better World combined with the '60s harmonies make the song equal to the treasures you find when, looking through your collection of '60s pop oddities--- say, The Blue Things or The Remains or even October Country--- you find that classic B-side which while being maybe not having that hook necessary for AM when it was released is still a great pop tune. When hearing A Piece of My Own the first time, I thought immediately of The Liverpool Five, a band which in the '60s approached the sound so many times only to be cut short, whether because of technology or production. A great track. The core of Morning Rain is AM pop (and how cool is that simple odd chord which fades in behind those harmonic voices). Inca might have sounded different if done by Jefferson Airplane, but there is a bit of that first album sound in the voices.

The perfect capper to this album is 4:20 into the 3:54 Inca, an addendum if you will, or you could call it an outro. Electronic, spacy, surreal--- a black light moment not meant to capture the pop fan but to make a final statement: Psych can be not only good, but fun. In fact, that is the key. From Intro to the Inca Outro, this album is packed with great (and fun) music. Packed, I tell you!

What I really want to emphasize is that this album is all about the thrill of discovery and adventure. Digging through each track is not unlike reliving '60s pop, or any decades', without the angst. Constant moments uncover themselves to be buried by other moments and you find yourself saying, hey, that's Airplane-like, but before you get it out, the sound has moved on to a two bar Strawberry Alarm Clock or a four bar Rattlers. The Grip Weeds have a way of keeping it fresh while giving you the hook and the feel without the aura of repetition. This isn't rehash. This is The Grip Weeds! They are all about the pop and, trust me, they have done their homework.

There are three other Grip Weeds albums out there to scope out after you've absorbed this one. Those in the know point to Giant On the Beach and Summer of a Thousand Years as the best they have to offer, but after hearing The Sound Is In You, it is a bit hard for me to believe. Still and all, the true fans should know and it couldn't hurt to scope them out. Chances are, if you really like this kind of music, you will end up with every Grip Weeds album and 45 you can get your hands on (along with T-shirts and other available goodies). You can find everything Grip Weeds at their website. In fact, do yourself a favor and head there now. The sooner you begin gripping the weeds, the sooner you'll experience that true musical high which has been so hard to find since the late 60s and beyond.

More Finds of the Future:
SCOTT BOYER/Talks about the Capricorn Rhythm Section
CAPRICORN RHYTHM SECTION/Alive at the 2nd Street Music Hall
GABRIELLE GEWIRTZ/Great music, Wonderful Voice!
GILEAH/Chaos of Love, Fury of Life (Breathtaking!)
(Perry Jordan &)HEARTSFIELD/Guitars a-Blazin' Country Rock!!
GREG LASWELL/Taking One For the Cause
JENN LINDSAY/This is Your Brain on Power Pop!
MAGGI, PIERCE & E.J./Dog Bites Band! (Phenomenal!!)
AUDREY MARTELL/Great Indie R&B, Pop!!
BILL PILLMORE/Cowboy Returns to the Studio
JESS PILLMORE/Dancing On the Edge
EMILY WELLS/The Yak Laughs Last
STEVE YOUNG/A Fortuitous Return to the Past

Gems From the Past:
All My Friends
CARGOE/From Tulsa To Memphis & Back
Ardent's JOHN FRY/A 1975 Interview
NOTARY SOJAC/A '70s Pacific Northwest Rock Legend
WHITE ELEPHANT/Jazz Had Hippies, Too!!!
STEVE YOUNG/Rock Alt & Nails

More indies and rock history here.