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Superb, fun playing

The Grams
The Grams
By The Grams

Self-released: 2006

Buy it now

This review first appeared in the April 1, 2006 issue of the North County Times.

San Diego's The Grams play an edgy, experimental folk music – think of it as acid folk. Built around the stellar musicianship of the trio's members (Chuck Schiele, guitars and percussion; Craig Yerkes, guitars; Sweet Elise Ohki, violin), the band takes its collective virtuosity and puts it to a pretty stiff test on nearly every song.

On their new self-titled CD, those tests come in the form of arrangements that bring in everything from Indian raga to Spanish flamenco to entirely new forms springing from the muses of the band. With just two guitars and a violin on most tracks, the ethereal sounds they create are downright amazing.

One challenge facing the band is that none of the three is as strong a singer as they all are players; the instrumental tracks come off strongest here. And none of the songs is particularly memorable – easy criticism to throw from someone who's never even tried to write a melody, but the fact remains that there aren't any songs to get stuck in your head.

Still, the playing is just so darn good it is able to overcome all of these challenges and make for fun listening.