Michael Grimm – Grimm
Michael Grimm has made quite a name for himself in a very short amount of time. Unlike a lot of the vapid performers that grace the stage of America’s Got Talent, Grimm is a genuine musician, writer and singer that first got national notice because of the aforementioned show. He’s been on tour with Stevie Nicks and Heart, played with many distinguished players on his prior album Michael Grimm and on his latest record Grimm he brings soul n’ grit back to the rock climate.
Opener “Generation Next” kicks off with a funky, all business bass line before Grimm’s guitar follows up with jangly licks befitting of a reggae artisan. The chorus is instantly affecting, delivering hard rock riffs in tandem with a soaring vocal presence that makes the moment instantly stick to the brain. This is just the kind of lively, lucid grooves that could save modern rock radio if DJs are approaching their playlists with an open mind. Possessing more bravado and classic grooves than country music has today, “She Drives me Crazy” borrows its twang from rural music but splits the electric licks between vintage ock, ska and reggae in order to create a passionate boogie overflowing with killer lyrical hooks.
“Black and White” mingles sullen acoustic/electric guitars with a vibrant rhythm section that’s shaded in autumnal light like an evening sky bathed in rays of orange, auburn sun. As a ballad it has a nice rise and fall, the chorus riff-y and elevated, leaving the verse to build a charming, smokestack darkness that’s about as blue collar honest as it gets in terms of rock n’ roll. If you ran Mellencamp, Springsteen, Bonamassa, The Outlaws and Leslie West through a blender, you might end up with the crunching, southern blues of “The Tide” and “Roses.” These tunes are all about the big bluesy backbreaking riffs…tougher than an adrenaline charged construction worker but with the finesse of an Olympic runner, Grimm’s take on surly blues sneers when it needs to and slinks in all of the right places. “Roses” also has a rollicking solo that’ll put you flat on your back and Michael’s voice climbs to some of the highest peaks on the entire record during the chorus.
Calling on the unearthly powers of Thin Lizzy and Phil Lynott, the punch-drunk, radio ready soul of “High School Stories” certainly reminds of Lizzy’s knack for composing big hits that still had more than a surplus of rock in their back pockets. “Lonely” reverts back in time to Grimm’s noted country influences with glimmering acoustic guitar sailing across the rippled waves of a trippy funk rhythm. Combining a stuttered, waltz tempo (thanks to a pounding, slightly staccato beat) with twinkling blues licks and riff rock, “Tragic Figures” is a heavy slammer benefitting from an uplifting chorus. The style of rockin’ takes a page from 50s hip shaking in the pyrotechnic “Goodbye Sammy,” Grimm updating the malt-rock twist to the sound of the explosive 70s based hard rock legends. Grimm is rounded out by the subtle balladry of “Bliss,” the hefty boogie of “1982” and acoustic closer “The Wind” which is truly a show stealer in its own right.
There’s really no faulting this record. Perhaps one or two songs could be a bit more memorable but otherwise Grimm is full of variety, style and sizzle. It’s the kind of rock n’ roll that everybody is afraid to make any more in the wake of the post grunge malaise brought on by Nickelback and Creed. These aren’t the riffs that you hear on the radio; Michael Grimm has a rough edge and spirit that’s hard to match. If you like your rock with an emphasis on ROCK, then this album is a must hear.
– Jay Snyder