[Album Review] Grimwood- For The Least Of Us
4.5Rating
Reader Rating: (5 Votes)

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Release Date: February 16th, 2015
Label: Independent

Grimwood is a tight trio. Not tight as it pertains to the arrangements, which are gloriously loose and free. No, it’s more a tightness in the unity of their vision. It’s a unity which allows them a complete democracy. The fact that they share vocal duties is probably not the most significant aspect of this democracy but it does serve as the most obvious example of it. Nick Sandor, Tim Personn and James MacEwen each has a distinctive voice and each has a distinctive sound (on drums, guitar and bass, respectively) that they contribute to that thing that is Grimwood.

What is Grimwood about, you ask? They are post-rock and, frankly, post-sentiment. They embrace the sounds and even the vibes of the ’70s and late ’60s, but they firmly reject the hippy-dippy notion of a brighter tomorrow. Does that make them post-caring? No. Not at all.

“Free to Burn” not only opens the album but it also sets the tone. It starts out in a brew of tentative chords and percussive sounds. Slowly but surely a beat is established. Finally a tremolo guitar cuts through the murk and they break out into a sprawling but purposeful guitar-driven instrumental. It’s post-rock for a post-apocalyptical landscape.

On “Sunglasses, Jacket, Hat” we get the first example of their quirky vocal harmonies before they launch into the epic “For The Least of Us”. Here they evoke the sun-blistered south-western deserts of American myth, with raspy vocals provided courtesy of early Bad Company. But this is no blues-rock nostalgia trip – it’s more of a call to make the best of a shitty here-and-now because things aren’t going to get any better.

On the balance of the album these lengthier excursions are the mainstay. Then there are a couple of traditionally structured songs, namely “The Obvious Flaws of Kicking and Screaming” and “Sleeping Vest”, which make for good pacing. Back in the ’70s album-oriented bands would include these in an attempt to have a radio hit. But here they do more than just provide some respite from the heavy tone of the rest of the album – they are damn good songs in their own right. “Sleeping Vest”, in particular, is a beaut, with the soaring harmony vocal being a nice touch.

As with all great albums, ‘For The Least of Us’ ends with its most emotionally powerful track. “The Handling of Stars” starts out like an overlooked classic by Big Star but then dives into heavier waters. However, Personn keeps bringing you back with a beautiful riff that is mournful but still retains vestiges of hope. And that’s how Grimwood leaves us – world weary and disillusioned, but, because we are defiantly human, never quite capable of completely giving up.

‘For The Least of Us’ was recorded by the band in the basement of a funeral home, lending some wonderful atmospherics to the sound. Post production is minimal, leaving the record all of the warts and blemishes that comes with an earnest effort. It’s a masterwork.