Carpark Records, 2013
Review by Kent Manthie
Something new has oozed out of the woodwork: GRMLNS. Basically, a vehicle for Japanese-born, So-Cal resident, Yoodoo Park, he recorded Empire with his brother Tae San Park, who plays bass on Empire and good pal Kei
th Frerichs on drums.
There is something that makes one move around, jump up & down and get a good
vibe from playing this new CD – especially when you turn it up LOUDLY! Songs like “Hand Pistol”, “Teenage Rhythm” and “Do You Know How it Feels” all have a sort of Superchunk vibe to them – anyone who’s seen Superchunk live can remember those guys’s penchant for being restless and doing a lot of jumping onstage themselves. You can also hear some other came-and-went bands’ sounds in here – I’ve read that some critic said they heard a bit of Jimmy Eat World in GRMLNS’s music. I don’t know – maybe. I’ve never really listened to that much of Jimmy Eat World to say either way. But at least it doesn’t have a trace of “Emo” to it. It’s a nice album to rock out to at the beach, on a road trip or even on your I-Pod on a long bus ride or train ride. Whichever way you look at Empire, it definitely can be summed up as a “Cruising” record.
The slow-dancing made “Cheer Up” has a retro vibe to it that sounds like it cou
ld’ve escaped from a time warp, out of a 1956-57 prom night dance party. It’s got a simple chord structure and some romantic lyrics – a real heartbreaker that one can imagine being used to help a guy patch up his fractured relationship with his steady girl.
Finally, “Dear Fear” is a slow, acoustic number that is totally different from the rest of the material, a musical look-back at things past and how everything changes for better or worse, but at bottom – worse: the damage that the passing of time can do – especially when you’ve put things off or failed to pursue your big dream or pass by that one relationship that would’ve worked out when instead you went off and failed with a bunch of meaningless ones that just made more time pass. This song just features an acoustic guitar and Yoodoo singing.
Speaking of Yoodoo singing, if you didn’t know anything about him and had no i
dea he’s originally from Japan, you’d think you were listening to just some other white boy from Los Angeles. He’s got that perfect laid back, Santa Monica surf-vibe.
One other surprise that Empire gives out is that, looking at the album cover it looks like you’re in for a hard-rocking, edgy, raw romp through the Bowery, but instead, Empire is a fascinating, different kind of sound. It’s not the faux-angst or the “Angry-For-No-Reason” “Nu-Metal” that was big in the late 90s and into the first decade of the 2000s. It’s got some great hooks, not all songs sound alike and it’s a pleasurable sound. The simplicity of it is not feigned either – the nine songs on here were lovingly written by Park in his own inimitable way and then, when they were ready, it was taken to Different Fur Studios in San Francisco, where it was recorded and mixed in less than a week!
Check it out and see for yourself. But as far as I’m concerned, I’d give it a chance – definitely not the typical crap that is played over and over again on the radio. -KM