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Improving with time

Love Factory
Love Factory
By The Grams

Self-released: 2008

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This review first appeared in the April 10, 2008 issue of the North County Times.

Augmented to a full five-piece since they issued their self-titled alt-acoustic debut as a trio two years ago, The Grams' follow-up disc displays not only the fuller sound a larger combo provides, but tighter playing and growth in their songwriting. And winning San Diego Music Awards each of the past two years has no doubt contributed to the band's increased confidence.

It all adds up to a sophomore effort that is markedly improved over what was a very good debut. Guitarists Chuck Schiele and Craig Yerkes and vioilinst Sweet Elise Ohio could always flat-out play, and they remain virtuosic on "Love Factory." What is added to that mix are arrangements that highlight each player's individual strengths, and that put Schiele's singing in complementary surroundings. Having Tony Sandoval (bass) and Bill Coomes (drums) flesh out the band's sound adds a new dynamic, as well. (Schiele dubbed in bass and drum tracks on the first album.)

It all comes together on "Heads Above Water," a gorgeous little nugget of pop music goodness. With a nod to local music icon Cindy Lee Berryhill in the opening stanza followed by some wonderful wordplay, and with Ohki's delicate violin lines dancing above Schiele's vocals, it's a near-perfect song.