Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Album Review: Griff's Room Band - Heartbreak/Desire

Griff's Room Band sounds a lot like what it would be if Dave Matthews Band and OAR had a baby as a band. If you know me, you know that's actually one of the best compliments I could give a band!

They have the fun, plucky guitar sound that makes OAR and Vampire Weekend super fun listens, and they have the fiddles that sound weirdly perfect in any mode, whether the country-adjacency of Boyd Tinsley's DMB fiddle, the Blue October power violin from Ryan Delahoussaye, or the perfect Petra Haden wistful indie sound.

This album starts off with the great track called "Wasting Time." This is a poppy track that sounds like it traces its roots to OAR, and it's a solid 4 minute-song with a great hook that has dueling melodies from the fiddle and the guitars. The subtle background fiddle jousting with the electric guitar is a compelling background track, and the rhythm guitar pulls everything together. The lyrics almost get lost in the musicality of all the instruments, but you can't discount them, either!

"Bad News" follows that song up with a completely different fiddle/guitar dynamic - bowing the fiddle classically against the wah-wah electric guitar. Pair these with a fun vocal harmony and fast lyrics, and you've got another song that's fun!

"Could Be," "Tie Me Down," and "Don't Fly Far" each have their strengths. "Could Be" is definitely a song that straddles heartbreak and desire, and in this song, the rhythm guitar is the part that shines the most. "Tie Me Down" is a Vampire Weekend-type song that plays with the acoustic guitar interplay, layering both guitars and vocals with major chords and syncopation that makes it so you can't help but smile while listening! The bridge, about two and a half minutes in, builds slowly, but to such soaring melodies that the buildup is worth the payoff. "Don't Fly Far" is a southern rock track that continues to show these guys off!

My two favorite songs on the album are back to back: "Reputation" and "Honey."

"Reputation" is a song that has a super energetic chorus, punctuated by verses that show how much heartbreak - and desire - the singer has for the "her" that this song is about. Again, these guys keep doing interesting things layering their different instruments, and the interplay between the electric guitar, the drums, and the fiddle during the bridge is perfect. These bridges - and most of their outros, too - would provide them with perfect jamming material in a live concert.

"Honey" is one of the longer songs in the album, but it plays with vocal harmonies, as well as intelligently using finger snaps for much of the percussion. The guttoral wailing during the chorus is a powerful foil to the note perfect timing and notes of the verses. This bridge has the most different themes, and I'd really like to see how they would jam this song live.

The rest of the album is also excellent, from the vocal harmonies of "Part of Me," the Reggae-inspired "She Gone," and the rock-blues guitar driven "Stranger" that almost hints at a gospel sound.

In the 10 songs of this album, each band member shines multiple times, and they span music genres from Motown to indie, the 1960s to today, and I really don't know how they get so many sounds out of just four people!

In addition to having great individual songs, the entire album works together as a delightful fusion of alt-country, pop, Americana, and indie. I look forward to hearing more from these guys and trying to see them if they come to town!

You can pre-order the album here, find more about them here, and find them on twitter here.

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