Title - 'How I Won The War' (Jem Recordings)
Artist - The Grip Weeds
For those not familiar with The Grip Weeds, they were formed in 1988 in New Brunswick, New Jersey by brothers Rick Reil (guitar) and Kurt Reil (drums). The band is actually named after the fictional character “Musketeer Gripweed”, played by John Lennon in Richard Lester’s 1967 motion picture, 'How I Won The War'.
The Reil brothers are joined by guitarist Kristin Pinell, a veteran of New York City's The Rooks and bassist Dave DeSantis, who joined the band in 2012. Together, and with the band name origins close to their minds, and hearts, here in 2015 The Grip Weeds have delivered us an album that hopes to deliver on a promise that the - it has to be said - lackluster film's lofty title fell foul of.
The opening song is the title track and as the air raid sirens sound, the guitars crash, and suddenly we're off and running in grand musical style! After 'How I Won The War' comes the guitar clanking 'Rise Up,' with the alternative pop melodies of 'Follow Me Blind,' 'Life Saver,' and 'Other Side of Your Heart' following close behind. The deeply dark, 'See Yourself' is next and is backed by the lighter 'Vanish,' before the first of the instrumentals (and the shortest track, most likely in the history of music, at just 20 seconds!) on this 17-track collection, 'Sounder.'
This sixth Grip Weeds album of new material is, for my money, probably their best as it just gets better and better as the tracks play out. 'Force of Nature' is next up, and is backed by the second of the three instrumentals, 'Crossfire.' Then comes the lighter, trippy psych guitar work of 'Heaven and Earth,' with Kristin Pinell taking over the lead vocals on 'Over and Over.'
The ambient collective retro vocal blend of 'Rainbow Quartz' come along next, and this is the one track where - at least, so it seems - all the quartet get to vocalize themselves. Next up is the third, and last of the instrumentals, 'Truce,' then the old school Oasisesque 'Lead Me To It,' before both the speedster 'AKA Victory' and then finally, as the air raid sirens repeat, the album rounds out with Beatlesesque, 'The Inner light.'
Call it a "concept" album, call it what you will, but How I Won The War is an album that devoted/current fans will be familiar with, but newcomers will be highly addicted to!