steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Grampall Jookabox

"Ropechain" CD

Joyful Noise / Asthmatic Kitty

Genre: weirdo folk, weirdo pop, experimental rock

Indianapolis, IN

Jan 7, 2009

I absolutely adored Grampall Jookabox's first album, Scientific Cricket, which was a blistering medley of cassette tape choruses and campfire chants. So when I heard about Ropechain, newly affiliated with Sufjan Stevens' Asthmatic Kitty imprint, my juices immediately started running clear.

And any way you cut it, this is a great record. From the opening backmasking of "Black Girls," which pounds along in a whirl of anthemic glory, it is clear that Ropechain is far more vast and sweeping than its predecessor. Indeed, the closed-commune vibe of Scientific Cricket has been replaced by an unmistakably grander approach. Perhaps the result of improved production values, this more expansive feel is an advancement of the Grampall Jookabox sound - the gist of their earlier work is retained, but it's been injected with an extra oomph.

As was the case on the last record, Grampall Jookabox's more unusual creations are often its most satisfying. The fast-forward vocal track of "Ghost" produces an eerie but insanely catchy blip of a track, whereas the soulful stomp-chant employed on "The Girl Ain't Preggers," replete with monster falsetto, is a surefire party hit. Also mesmerizing is the loopy "We Know We Might Be Fucked," although things seem to whimper a little near album's end - "Strike Me Down" is much less juicily satisfying than the record's other tracks, while "I'm Absolutely Freaked Out" is warm and fluid but perhaps in need of a more immediate hook.

As it stands, Ropechain is all soul. Intelligently written and undeniably fun, it will go down as one of this year's best, as well as the next step in the burgeoning legacy of Grampall Jookabox. You, dear reader, are urged to go out and buy this record as soon as you can. It will eat you whole.

grampall jookabox's myspace


youuuuuuuutube!: "the girl ain't preggers" video, "black girls" video (unofficial)

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 11 tracks, distributed by the label, released Nov 2008]