One band member crouches and one stands with a katana in his hand. The background is orange.

Grapetooth: Grapetooth Album Review

By Tanner Meadows
Music Journalist

Artist: Grapetooth
Album: Grapetooth
Release Date: November 9th, 2018
Label: Polyvinyl Record Co.

“Are you violent?”

That’s the question to set the tone for the eponymously titled, debut release of the youthful, eclectic, and energetically passionate Grapetooth. Not so much provocation of aggression, the opening track, “Violent,” a bubbly, New Order-esque romp of synth and dance beats that gives the listener an overall impression of what’s to come, essentially asking of us, “are you down to party?” Grapetooth shows us that quality has no more of an obligation to gloom than it does to fun.

Consisting of Twin Peaks frontman Clay Frankel and Chicago producer Chris Bailoni, Grapetooth’s style is inspired from a variety of different artists and genres, influenced most heavily by a slew of new wave bands from across the globe, such as New Order, The Cure, Spacemen 3, and Fishmans. Though this is their first official release, the band has already made a name for itself in the Chicago area since 2010, built on nothing but their ecstatic and wild live shows. The term Grapetooth was coined by a friend of Frankel’s, an epithet referring to his chronically red-stained teeth, a result of his frequent consumption of wine.

The record moves straight from the initial energy of the opening track into the very mellow “Red Wine,” a funky lull before the warbled, out of tune notes of a synth found in an alleyway bring in the third track, “Trouble,” a song that epitomizes Grapetooth’s ethos of anti-perfection, taking extra precaution to avoid anything too organized. Tracks like “Mile After Mile” and the closer, “Together,” folkishly disorganized in a similar fashion to Black Lips, afford calmer moments from the greater momentum of the other songs. All in all, Grapetooth’s sound reminisces on ’80s new wave bliss and John Hughes movie nostalgia before fusing it with a heap of other musical influences, fun being the guiding mentality in both writing the songs as well as performing them.

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