Grifter – Return Of The Bearded Brethren

Pic SarahStygall

Pic SarahStygall

Almost three years after the release of their very appetising, riff stocked debut album, UK rockers Grifter return with another mighty slab of muscular temptation in the form of second album Return Of The Bearded Brethren. The successor to their acclaimed self-titled full-length which delivered eleven slices of unbridled dirty rock ‘n’ roll, the new proposition finds the trio building on all the essences which made the last release a formidable triumph. With greater maturity and style raging through the songwriting and increased devilment to their sound, Return Of The Bearded Brethren is a seductive beast of a release with grooves, hooks, and riffs all honed to an irresistible stature. It is fair to say that the album is again not exactly creating new templates for heavy rock but definitely the band is giving another very healthy and thrilling stomp to greedily devour.

Released as their 2011 debut on Ripple Music, Return Of The Bearded Brethren sees the threesome of vocalist/guitarist Ollie Stygall, bassist Phil Harris, and drummer/backing vocalist Foz Foster finding a tighter ruggedness in their sound as well as a keener and equally potent adventure. Formed in 2003 Grifter, as shown by their High Unholy Mighty Rollin’ and The Simplicity of the Riff is Key EPs in 2008 and 2010 respectively, has never been slow in barging through ears with the meatiest attack of contagious big boned riffery and spicy grooves. Their first album set a new plateau for the band with its collection of songs crafted over the years leading up to its release, a base which the Rich Robinson produced blaze of The Return Of The Bearded Brethren has embraced whilst breeding its own dirt encrusted and invigorating character. Spawning songs themed by tales of “Guinness, ’70s sex symbols, drinking regrets, religious folly, and more”, the weighty treat of heavy rock revelry is one of those encounters which turns a party into a riot, a raucous gathering into an orgy of unbridled debauchery, and leaves all concerned exhausted and blissfully wasted.

As soon as the album hits the ears with opener Black Gold you know things are going to get filthy and lustful, especially with the following She Mountain backing it up with a similarly lusty seduction of infectiousness and sinew driven RIPPLE_2393energy. The first track primes ears with punchy beats before unleashing the most delicious of contagion drenched grooves. The bass riffing of Harris sets a throaty spine to which the swinging rhythms of Foster provides irresistible bait, but it is once the excellent vocal lure of Stygall alongside his increasingly tempting string play that the song becomes an inescapable slave master to feet and emotions. With hints of blues fire and imagination entangling sonic enterprise across its narrative, the track continues to bind body and soul tightly whilst its swagger and relentless stride of vocals and sound is the purest anthemic enticement. Its successor is similarly commanding and insatiable in recruiting senses and passions. A stronger whisper of blues flirtation makes its touch known but primarily the song is again an anthem of heavy boned rhythms, saucy grooves, and antagonistic riffs which converge into one blaze of addictiveness.

To be honest such the majesty of the first pair of songs that the album never manages to reach the same pinnacle again but that is no slight on the rest of the impressive encounter. The sultry Southern rock twang of Paranoiac Blues immediately feeds the greedy appetite already triggered by the album with its flavoursome flame of blues angst and spicy sonic endeavour. Like Seasick Steve does ZZ Top with the weight of Orange Goblin behind it, the track winds around the imagination with a glorious invention and melodic flaming before making way for Princess Leia. Guitars and bass are immediately prowling ears, appearing its slower stride with bursts of catchy urgency, whilst the rhythmic taunting of Foster ignites a tension of aggression in the again impossibly infectious proposition. With it also having a video for it, the track looks like the lead into the album which is understandable though you do also wonder why the might of the first two tracks were overlooked.

The outstanding Bow Down To The Monkey adds its bear like prowl and smouldering enticing to the album next, vocals and grooves as magnetic as the jabbing rhythms and carnivorous tone of the bass are predatory. The song wraps itself lasciviously around ears with an open flirtatious enterprise to add another creative twist to the album, as does Braggard’s Boast with its raunchy riffing and acidic grooves within a bar room brawl of heavy rock meets classic metal. It is not a track which grips as potently as others upon the release but still has body and emotions leaping eagerly, making a great appetiser for the bluesy rampancy of It’s Not Me, It’s You. As with many of the songs on the album there is a familiarity to some of the twists and essences within the track yet it only brews up a stronger link between the release and passions for the main. At times storming with all cylinders ablaze and in others smouldering with a smooch of a coaxing, the track is a riveting evocation of old and modern rock ‘n’ roll, something Grifter are very adept at fusing.

Both Fire Water and the title track keep the juices of the album and reactions flowing keenly, the first an old school seeded rocker with a sauntering and mischievous gait to its infection soaked endeavour, especially around an addictive chorus, whilst the second is prime sonic enticing which again feels more like an old returning friend than a new acquaintance but is still as fresh and inspiring to limbs and voice as you could wish for. Its rigorous success is followed by album closer Fairies Wear Boots, a cover of the Black Sabbath track which hits all the right notes and sweet spot with a raw and caustically graced Grifter unique stroll. It is a fine end to a mouth-watering release from the band. The Return Of The Bearded Brethren is not a awe inspiring triumph or maybe one to squash all expectations but it is one to bring one of the most enjoyable and compelling rock ‘n’ roll treats this year and that is more than enough to get excited over.

Return Of The Bearded Brethren is available via Ripple Music in North America now and in Europe on the 18th August on CD, limited Vinyl, and Digitally and at http://grifter.bigcartel.com/product/the-return-of-the-bearded-brethren-cd-album

http://www.grifterrock.co.uk

8.5/10

RingMaster 13/08/2014

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Grifter: Self Titled

The end of last year saw many a fan and media source excited by the self titled debut from UK trio Grifter. The release slipped past us then but having finally been introduced to its enthused and energetic rock n roll we just had to share it here in case you too had escaped its initial emergence. Quite simply the release is unadulterated and straight forward rock music for the heart and aural bar room liquor to intoxicate the ear. The band do not offer up anything particularly new or groundbreaking but other than label stable mates at Ripple Music, Trucker Diablo, it is hard to bring to mind another band that does it with the same accomplished quality and passion with which this band does.

Grifter formed in 2003 as a quartet well for their debut gig anyway. The show saw the vocalist quit on stage and the band has remained a threesome of vocalist/guitarist Ollie, bassist Phil, and drummer Foz, ever since. From day one they have riled up and excited people with their honest heart borne rock sounds, big teasing riffs, and high octane rock n roll. As their music and reputation grew to draw in a wider and more eager fan base across the south west of the UK the band released their Elephantine demo in 2005. Favourable reviews rolled in and they found themselves the attention of Fury 76 Records with whom they recorded the High Unholy Mighty Rollin’ EP the following year, its actual release not coming until 2008 and again to very favourable reviews. The band were then approached to do a track for a compilation by Catacomb Records which led to their second EP The Simplicity of the Riff is Key in 2010 and again on the label. Last year saw them contribute to a split EP release with Stone Axe, Sun Gods In Exile and Mighty High on Ripple Music, a success that has seen them now release through Ripple again their first album.

Grifter the band and album encapsulate rock n roll, their sound and songs bringing the best from an obviously thick blanket of influences and turning them into their own irrepressible heart fuelled music. As the album plays you are reminded of the likes of Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Clutch, Stone Axe, Motorhead and ZZ Top as well as to a lesser but as important degree bands like Orange Goblin, and Kyuss. Classic rock, hard rock, stoner, blues and southern rock are all in the rich heady and thrilling concoction, a sound with no demands asked and no unrequited emotions taken, Grifter is full of rock music at its best given with heart, energy and fun, and made for people like themselves, rockers.

The tracks whistle by due to the way they pull one in straight away to party with the band, the likes of the southern tinged stirring opener Good Day For Bad News, Alabama Hot Pocket with its muscle flexing rhythms, and Young Blood, Old Veins with a stoner swagger and middle finger offering, leaving the pulse racing and breath looking for air to re-energise ready for more of the same insatiable, exhaustive and rampant sounds.

Every song on the album offers a bottle of double strength rock to become light headed from. It is full of sure and tight riffs leading one down to dirty deeds and rhythms that draw willing and impossible to resist contortions of limbs and energy. Some tracks do have more of the devil in them than others though like the wanton groove driven Strip Club, a song that seduces and teases with all the tricks of a bar pole dancer, the rockabilly toned Buck Tooth Woman where the band have a sure touch of The Stray Cats about them, and Bean with its classic UK hard rock flavouring. As mentioned all the tracks hit the spot perfectly and have the desired effect  of pulling one to their feet to participate to some degree even the closing bluesy acoustic lined ballad Gone Blues. Once in its stride the song has lighters, voices and bodies swaying in unity with its mesmeric groove.

Grifter is an excellent rock n roll album, no more and certainly no less. It does not have to be anything more as it and the band deliver eleven pieces of pure and delicious rock music, what could be better?

Ringmaster 20/04/2012

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