Grafton

Grafton

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Formed in Columbus, OH, in the mid-'90s, Grafton spent their first few years playing smoky dives as a drums-and-guitar two-piece. With the release of their 2001 self-titled Derailleur debut, the band emerged as a three-piece, having enlisted bassist Donovan Roth, also of the on-again-off-again '70s-inspired riff rock outfit Bob City. The addition of a bassist helped flesh out the band's rhythm-heavy, dirty rock sound. Raucous and energetic, Grafton's grimy garage rock sound is dominated by jagged, frenzied guitars -- indie rock with a Southern drawl -- led by Lou Poster's ultra-gritty, vaguely J. Robbins-cadenced sing/speak vocals. The band is a fine addition to the diverse stable of strong acts on the Derailleur label, which includes the now-defunct alt-country rockers Bigfoot, as well as gloriously Stones-y Bygones (whose drummer also serves in Grafton) and indie-glamsters Templeton. While their 13-songs-in-26-minutes attack may seem a bit abbreviated, it actually works perfectly because, in the tradition of many great performers, they keep it short, sweet, and to the point, thus leaving the listener ready for more rather than eyeing their watch to see when it'll end. Despite having misspelled the title, "Tom Sellek" is one of the album's standout tracks, with a restrained verse arrangement building tension throughout the song and erupting into the chorus. "The Bet" is simply ferocious with its huge cyclical guitar riff, Roth's manic bass pounding, Jason McKiernan's brutal drumming, and Poster's raw-throated yelling. Though the rest of the album possesses a dirty rock charm, with "The Best Part of La Grange," the boys offer up a downright catchy tune -- a pop song by Grafton's standards -- and without question the most accessible track on the album. Perfectly suited for college alt-rock radio, "La Grange" is the most singsongy; the normally gruff Poster gets on the record, and it proves to be a pleasant turn, but don't bank on Grafton to turn alt-pop anytime soon. Clocking in at 38 seconds, "A Toast to Gravity" surely beats any short-song record held by the Ramones and, in keeping with the long-standing tradition of Ohio acts (including Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Them Wranch, and Guinea Worms) writing songs about their dear old Buckeye state, the song features the line, "Thank you for sticking me in Ohio."

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