Grape St. – Garage Rock Isn’t Enough

grape-st-a-date-with-you-album-cover

On A Date With You, Grape St. play a jangly, stripped-down version of reverb-laden rock that I’m actually willing to consider referring to as “garage.” Anyone familiar with some of my more recent twitter rants will know that I’m of the opinion that using the term garage to describe music has (like “indie”, “alternative”, and “punk” before it) become something that hipsters do to let you know that the very mainstream sounding music they’re listening to, is actually “not” mainstream at all. As a fan (and somewhat OCD user) of genre labels, the fact that nearly every rock release tends to get labeled as garage lately drives me up a wall. Grape St. is a band that defies this trend (and my own bias) in that they actually sound like what I expect an actual garage band to sound like.

So what’s “garage” about this release? Well garage to me evokes the era of 1960’s rock and roll, when the British Invasion swept the nation and every red-blooded American boy wished he were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, or Mick Jagger. Garage rock should be music you can play in your garage with a couple of friends after school, using instruments you bought at the pawn shop with saved up spare change. Grape St. epitomizes this sound with a bevy of songs built on simple riffs, classic song structures, and fairly relatable (if not pedestrian) lyrics about life and love, and even while they throw in the occasional piano or horn, it’s still garage to me.

The songs on A Date With You are short, bright, and jangly, with a subtle DIY edge that sets it just off to the side of other poppy guitar records. In the end however I can’t help but feel like this is a well-meaning album in search of a few decent hooks. Throughout most of the album one track moves into the next with little variation. One 4/4 mid-tempo beat moves seamlessly into another with little to differentiate it from its predecessors, and I found myself checking to see if I had actually progressed to a new track more than a couple times.

The album has its moments, though, in tracks like the titular “A Date With You,” “Dream Girlz,” and the late album ballad “Double Golds.” At least with those three tracks I didn’t feel like I had heard it all before. For fans of that early rock sound these few tracks are unique enough to consider grabbing, but as a whole A Date With You feels like a lot of filler to me. There’s talent here, but maybe it’s time to move out of the garage.

– Brian Audette