REVIEW: Oral Groove, Collisionville (Cross Records)
- Bill Holmes
A long time ago I made a rule for myself - never review a disc without listening to it at least five times on at least three different days. I'm only human, and like most people, my mood can affect the initial impression that a slab of new music will have on me. Add to that the typical press kit - loaded with superlatives and setting few bands can ever attain. Gotta be objective and open minded - sometimes a CD that seemed incredibly inspired will wear thin after only a few listens, and other times a record will start to gnaw its way into my brain and let its charm do the talking. Oral Groove's Collisionville is gnawing and charming me still.
The Groove boys are a four piece from Brooklyn (although they can pronounce those "th" sounds with minimal effort) who were weaned on New Wave and Power Pop as well as the other radio sounds we all couldn't avoid. The result is a clean, crisp pop-punk hybrid that will appeal to fans of three minute car radio nirvana. The production pushes Joe Mannix's vocals way up front, which sometimes works wonders ("Levitate Her") and sometimes falls flat ("Id"), but the harmonies are strong throughout. "Car Driver", the opening cut and first single, is reminiscent of The Cars and The Jags - rhythmic, sharp and punchy. Better still are the songs that lean closer to the 60's roots these guys were probably too young to experience firsthand. "A Deeper Look Inside" could be a Britpop song from 1966 as easily as it could be a New Wave single a decade later. All the songs were written by the band as a unit.
"Hold It In" and "Human Hands" slow down the tempo but are no less effective - good vocal arrangements and hooks that stick in your head after only a couple of listens. "Tell Me You Love Me", the closer, is a sweet piano ballad. "Danny Felter", on the other hand, sounds eerily like an outtake from Elvis Costello's first record - play this next to "Mystery Dance" and you'll do a double take. With "England's Dreaming", OG dresses in Jam clothing and takes a swipe at the Oasises and Blurs who have the portfolio of clippings but can't muster a British Invasion like the two before them. Up yours, Gallagher.
My favorite one-two punch is "Something I Had To Do" and "Come On". Drummer Chris Peck kick-starts "Something" the song never lets you go, a great pedal-to-the-floor driving tune. And has there ever been a bad song called "Come On"? Ed Fingerling's bass lead gives this rocker a unique flavor, leading the band to the infectious refrain and a classic pop guitar solo. Outside of "Id" there really isn't a bad song, and "Id" is only 90 seconds long.
There's an error on the CD booklet that reverses track 11 and track 12. Outside of that, Oral Groove didn't make many mistakes on Collisionville. A solid release from a band that might be even better than the press kit says it is.
For more information on Oral Groove, check out the band at http://www.crossrecords.com .