Review of “Gramps of Wrath” by Divide and Conquer

By Jay Freeman

The indie / punk thrash / rock trio known as Grampfather has a brand of raw, energetic and sophisticated flavor and their new album Gramps of Wrath (yes, it’s a play on words from Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath), very much sounds like it was recorded live and raw. But don’t let that deter you from listening; I think this band has that refreshing sound that’s sometimes lacking in the otherwise perfectly packaged, slicked-up music these days. And the fact that they did not one, but three instrumentals and have a mix of old and new sounds sets them apart from other bands of this kind, in my opinion.

​The opener “Preface” has that rawness of early ‘80s punk bands of a different kind. Pylon from Athens, Georgia comes to mind. There’s also a ‘60s flavored keyboard and actually, if you listen closely, the British band The Animals are in there somewhere, but with a punk flavor. “Fernluv” reminds me of young love, memories that are just memories and again, a very live sound that was well executed in the studio. “Gnardogs” has wild, grating back and forth guitar that reminded me of Lou Reed’s style when he fronted The Velvet Underground. It’s also the band’s second instrumental.

What I liked best about this band is that they carry on the legacy of punkish themes and shenanigans: tongue in cheek lyrics that you simply must read – because there’s a lot of them and they’re funny – like on “Jimmy Buffet (the Vampire Slayer),” criticism of the hippie free love movement, (“Free Love”) and brilliant, second person storylines that retell awkward days of being 15 (“Freedom Clause”). On “Godsludge” I thought it was a very good ode to that “Halloween Horror / Monster Mash” sound that The Cramps were known for, not to mention a free verse poetry explosion of words that was highly entertaining!

The last number is Grampfather’s third instrumental, amusingly titled “(An Ode to) Otis Shredding.” I was expecting some clever lyrics that tied in with the legendary soul singer but what I got was a hauntingly beautiful beginning, and then boom! – a fast rocker that might make you want to get up and dance.

If you’re a lyrics person then you might want to click the lyrics link next to each song listed on the band’s Bandcamp site. At times it was hard to hear what was being said. But if you just like that raw, live sound that punk/thrash bands are known for then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Grampfather.

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