Grampall Jookabox | Ropechain (Asthmatic Kitty)

cd_grampall.jpgInteresting textures abound throughout this ultimately less than interesting headphone disasterpiece.



Over the course of one seemingly haunted week entrenched in paranormal obsession, David Adamson (aka Grampall Jookabox) crafted the pile of songs that make up Ropechain. "Definitely some weird shit was happening," Adamson recalls of the experience. Upon hearing the record, I couldn’t agree more.

The album opener "Black Girls" begins with reversed and reverberated murmurs á la Fiery Furnaces and a driving distorted bass line that sounds a bit too slow for a Death From Above record. Initially intriguing, the album’s Achilles heel first becomes apparent just shy of one minute in when Grampall starts rambling, "Black girls walk on tips of mountains/ Jump in seas like they was fountains/ make the world turn around again." The music of this record feels like it deserves to accompany a better lyrical effort. One found only enough to evoke thought of its absence, ultimately leaving listeners feeling gypped.

Make no mistake about it-the music on Ropechain is interesting enough to warrant each song a few attentive spins. Don’t miss the strange rattling and buzzing of the eerily electronic "Ghost" or the bachelor-friendly pseudo crooning chorus of "The Girl Ain’t Preggers." The head nodding, washboard accented groove of "I Will Save You Michael" along with its percussive, down-the-hall sounding bass line and Beach Boys, by way of Animal Collective, vocal harmonies is in my humble opinion, Grampall Jookabox at his finest. Fans of Grizzly Bear should find comfort here.

"We Know We Might Be Fucked" is a calmly composed conjecture of a high possibility of impending doom the likes of retirees and Lehman Brothers firees. The track is more evidence in the case that Grampall Jookabox is at his best when ditching the corny lyrics and attempted electro-pop aesthetic of "Black Girls" and "Let’s Go Mad Together" for the more laidback, comfortably echoed sentiments of songs like "We Know We Might Be Fucked" or "Strike Me Down."

While it may sound like I’m not the biggest fan of this record, I actually enjoyed it very much. I recognized shades of some of my personal favorites of the past couple years, from Animal Collective and High Places to Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes. Lyrically lackadaisical, this record frustrates me on many occasions. While full of cleverly layered samples and synths, many of the songs on Ropechain sound like a crunk rapper’s "indie" attempt (see also, Jimi Hendrix drawl minus the real attitude)

This LP contains an EP’s worth of exceptional material and a sub-par electro-leaning alteration otherwise. Musically, I’d recommend Ropechain for anybody who has enjoyed the recent works of bands like High Places, Grizzly Bear and The Ruby Suns; lyrically, I’d recommend Ropechain for fans of Lil Wayne. C+ | Carl Hines

RIYL: Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, !!!

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