Release Date: 18-July-2012
Genre: Alt-Country / Electropop / Americana
Publisher: [c] 2012 Royal Order
Label: Royal Order
Total Time: 42m 34s
Original Review Date: 19-November-2012
Format: AAC (iTunes)
Bit Rate: 256 kbps
Songs In Jivewired Radio Rotation: Desperate Heart, Wild Imagination, Honky Tonkin’
Best Songs: Wild Imagination, Honky Tonkin’, Desperate Heart
Team Photo: Too Drive To Drunk, I’ve Been Thinking
Previous Jivewired Review: None
How You Might Know This Band: Their single Lost in Place is featured in the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love starring Steve Carrell, Emma Stone, and Ryan Gosling.
01. Wild Imagination 3:44
02. Country Jo 3:32
03. Eeyore 3:50
04. I’ve Been Thinking 5:09
05. Olde October Moon 5:11
06. Rider On A White Horse 4:00
07. Too Drive To Drunk 3:37
08. Country Lullaby 3:43
09. Honky Tonkin’ 3:52
10. Din Ho 2:38
11. Desperate Heart 3:18 (single available separately)
If Welcome To The Country is your first Gram Rabbit experience, know going in that this album is a vast departure from their signature sound. The ethereal 2012 release (and seventh by the band) is a spacy, alt-country, traditional blues, folk and electropop contradictory amalgam awash with dreamy keyboards and sultry vocals from Jesika von Rabbit and fuzzy, dense guitar work by Todd Rutherford.
The album is available digitally via Spotify and Bandcamp. Previously Gram Rabbit have been known to fans for their desert soaked psych-rock tunes and bacchanalian live shows, though this release leans more toward their experimental outfit dubbed The Country, and may in fact be a directional segue into that particular diversion, hence the title Welcome To The Country. The album is heavily influenced by another of Joshua Tree’s more famous brethren, Gram Parsons.
On this release, Gram Rabbit winds up touching on a number of disparate rhythmic strands – folk and country, grungy shoegaze, stiff-boned electro, sordid exotica and hints of noise rock – but there’s no roughshod break between sensibilities. Everything flows smoothly, and the full sounds suggest dense soundscapes that appear to be slightly more complicated than they actually are.
But it goes further. The duo reworks blues, folk, country and even bluegrass arrangements in a way that bucks traditional convention, either in their construction or presentation, giving this album a vibrant, electric pulse, one that is enchanting in both form and attack. The record sounds almost like the world’s most extravagant demo reel, impeccably accomplished in its production, but only if you are familiar with Gram Rabbit’s previous works. For the non-follower, it sounds like an amazing electronic twist on Americana and Alt-Country sensibilities.
Mostly intriguing and ecstatic, Welcome To The Country is padded with a non-stop assault of nostalgic-centric songs that will transport you back to a time when movies like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and A Fistful Of Dollars were the norm rather than the exception. And though this is no soundtrack album, a number of the songs on this album were specifically marked for licensing, a wonderful tell regarding the state of the music business for under-the-radar indie bands with strong cult followings. Music isn’t necessarily looking for the next big thing if it can instead leave an indelible mark with a listening audience that generally comes to the table with an ever-decreasing attention span. Licensing is the easiest way to successfully saturate that market.
All that aside, the music on this album is catchy and addictive in it’s own right. Certainly commercial appeal will help sell the individual songs, but even without that added boost, Welcome To The Country stands on it’s own merit. Jesika’s vocals ooze dripping sex appeal and the arrangements are similarly steamy for the most part.
Through ingenious and savvy arrangements, astute musicianship and an ear for nostalgic hooks that traverses generations, Gram Rabbit breathes sensual life into a project that capitalizes on the Avant-Garde. Welcome To The Country is a prize despite it’s directional change for the band, or maybe in spite of it, but with no consolation necessary.
Call this latest release by Gram Rabbit A Fistful Of Rabbit if you like, in loving tribute to the spaghetti western meets psychedelic rock sound it personifies. Without doubt, this is a daring but successful move by a band that has made it’s mark by amassing a huge cult following.