Album reviews: GRMLN, The Hill and Wood, Sons of Bill

Album reviews: GRMLN, The Hill and Wood, Sons of Bill

GRMLN

Soon Away/Carpark Records

Bay Area-based Yoodoo Park a.k.a. GRMLN, has undergone quite a metamorphosis in his several years as an artist. Originally something of an ambient singer-songwriter with a penchant for beautiful, mellow melodies, he’s gone full-on rock and roll on Soon Away replete with driving rhythms, engaging choruses and guitars, guitars, guitars. “Jaded” hits hard with its energy, and the solos and raucous drumming on “Crawling Into You” beg for an accompanying air guitar. Park’s sometimes scratchy and slightly off-kilter vocals (“Awake”) showcase in-the-moment garage rock that borders on perfection. You can practically feel sweat dripping out of the album, and even when Park dials it down to a darker, Nirvana-esque mood on “Avoider,” it still gets you moving.

The Hill and Wood

Opener/Self-released

When Sam Bush and Juliana Daugherty sing together it’s beautiful enough to make angels cry. This alone would be enough to recommend the duo’s latest project, but there’s more. Tracks like “The First Time” evolves into a rapturous piece of indie rock by the end, and on the driving folk pop track “Let a Good Thing Grow,” the duo shows off an insightful, poetic flair with lines like: “Everyone is giving birth to something.” By the time Bush and Daughtry reach the lumbering, otherworldly closer “Station Side”—a song which treads heavily in Americana territory and features multiple flourishes from Daugherty’s flute—there is no doubt about the impact that their chemistry has on this release.

Sons of Bill

Love and Logic/Thirty Tigers

Charlottesville’s own Sons of Bill has delivered a gem of an Americana rock record. Love and Logic is a stirring collective on the best and worst of humanity, citing the battle between emotion and intellect in guiding the choices we make. The country-tinged “Fishing Song,” deftly analyzes avoidant behavior, while the driving rocker “Bad Dancer” romanticizes the musical tastes of youth (even though you might cringe at it now). On the simultaneously gritty and hopeful “Road to Canaan” lead singer James Wilson croons “Woe to all you petty, well-paid sons of bitches” to great effect as he laments life’s difficult roads, and guest vocalist Leah Blevins’ contribution turns the outstanding track into a beautiful duet. Love and Logic is insightful, inspired, and speaks to the maturity of the band’s talent.

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