Grip Weeds Summer of a Thousand Years

The Grip Weeds ought to have a word with whoever it was that came up with the promo sticker affixed to the New Jersey quartet's latest CD. Contrary to the misleading notice, Summer of a Thousand Years is not "A classic melange of '60s-inspired pop psychedelia, British R&B, folk rock and Beatlesque Merseybeat." As attractive as that description may be, the album is more of a collection of largely straightforward, conventional pop-rock tunes with occasional acoustic folk-pop inclinations. Had the sticker department done its research properly, it might have picked up on the uncanny vocal similarities between guitarist Kurt Reil and Big Star's Chris Bell. Another key marketing point would be the rich sibling vocal harmonies he and his beat-keeping brother Rick come up with time and time again here. The psychedelic nod is likely derived from the track "Life and Love, Times to Come," on which the band goes through the sitar and tabla motions with Kurt putting forward his best Andy Partridge. The exercise works initially, but ultimately fails to inspire, as the song - like so many others here - stays its quickly established and predictable course. The album's only bona fide surprise is how little the Grip Weeds' music corresponds to the retro-Western aesthetic of its packaging. (Rainbow Quartz)