The Grift a Vermont Rock Treasure


GlennSource RecordsTMTT-10
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Unless you live in central Vermont, put The Grift into the category of one of the best rock bands you don’t know. This talented quartet has five albums to its credit (5 1/3 if you want to count a 3-track demo from 2002) of which Doppelganger is its latest. The album is inappropriately named; Sibyl would be a better title for all the musical personalities that emerge—jam band, funk, country rock, folk rock, techno…. The band Website notes that The Grift also does tribute concerts and loads of covers. You’re likely to hear echoes of The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, The Commodores, REM, Guster, and quite a few others. This is not to say that The Grift are parrots—one of the really delightful things about Doppleganger is how it surprises—the band sound at once familiar, yet uniquely itself. Not even the instruments stay inside the lines of the musical coloring book. There is guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums, but also a member who churns out turntable scratches (Jeff Valone) and another who’s likely to put down his bass and pick up a trumpet (Peter Day). Day and guitarist Chris Bierman share vocal leads and neither has a classic rock voice—their sweet, smooth tones frequently form the counter to rougher, edgier instrumentation. The effect is akin to that of the group they most evoke for me, Snow Patrol, but again this is an approximation, not an imitation.

The songs on Doppelganger are delicious mash-ups of this, that, and why not. The aptly named “Collision” opens with extraterrestrial techno notes that suggest a disco on the space station, but there are also Jayhawks-like harmonies, and vocal catches worthy of Roy Orbison. “Stand to Fall” might be what you get if Green Day channeled soul, and lord knows what to make of “La Fille de l’Auto Stop,” which begins life as a klezmerized Quebecois tongue-twister, takes a few pulsing techno turns, and sounds all the world like an old Yes composition in the middle. If that’s not eclectic enough, try the short-in-length-long-in-quirkiness “Confound It, Archie.” My best attempt at describing it is to encourage you to imagine Gil Scott-Heron as a Vermont Beat poet in a Garrison Keillor radio sketch. Got that? Probably not, which is why you need to hear these guys for yourself. Check out their Website and MySpace pages, which have loads of things to sample.

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