On his debut, Scientific Cricket, Indianapolis’ Grampall Jookabox (a.k.a. David “Moose” Adamson) let his freak-folk flag fly high, all while a subtle undercurrent of big, club-rattling beats threatened to surface from the murky sonic depths. On his latest album, and Asthmatic Kitty Records debut, Ropechain, Adamson allows the beats to take over and propel the material in ways his debut only hinted at.
Album opener “Black Girls” shows off Adamson’s knack for laying down a great groove and then laying down the oddness on top of that. The wall of pitch-shifted Grampalls is at the same time unsettling and hauntingly beautiful. “Let’s Go Mad Together” is a love song about getting older, dumber and crazier and wanting to share that experience. A couple of scat solos are added to cement his decent into madness. On “I Will Save Young Michael” Adamson lays out a plan for fellow Hoosier Michael Jackson’s much needed return to classic form. I back you 100 percent, Grampall.
A fixation on the afterlife returns from Scientific Cricket as a recurring theme here on “Ghost,” “Old Earth, Wash My Beat” and “Strike Me Down.” In fact, much of this eerie atmosphere is aided by Adamson’s production. The pitch-shifted and harmonized back-up vocals are given just the right amount of reverb and delay to give them a chant-like quality. Adamson has crafted a truly unique sound blending this with fat beats galore.
Two tracks stand out above all the rest. “The One Thing” is a quick jolt of electricity that channels 70s soul and dance music while being something totally Grampall’s. Single-of-the-year candidate and certified banger “The Girl Ain’t Preggers” is so good that I wrote a persuasive analysis about its content for a college course I’m currently taking. It’s inspired club-banging for the hipster set. The track chronicles all the emotional twists and turns that come with a possible pregnancy for a young man who is obviously not ready to deal with such responsibility. The verse where Grampall laments about how having a child would actually be wonderful is some of the finest wordplay I’ve heard all year.
Ropechain is poised to take the indie dance scene by storm. It’s always comforting to know that music of this quality is coming out of Indiana. (Z.B.S.)
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