Grand Champeen

Out Front by the Van

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Balancing ragged guitar-based rock with more delicate, mournful numbers, Grand Champeen's debut album is an exhilarating work reminiscent of early-'70s Rolling Stones, the Minneapolis scene of the 1980s, and the No Depression movement of the 1990s: in short, the album takes some of the best music of the last 30 years and puts it all together in under 40 minutes. For the most part, the songs on Out Front by the Van are short, fast, and furious: "Crossing," "Threw a Fit," "Lucky," and "Song About It" all clock in at under three minutes, but manage to establish solid choruses and hooks, with guitars blazing and a rhythm section adding to the dynamic as much as keeping time. The album's slower songs don't detract from the pace or overall feel of the album. On "Train Whistle," a brilliant Uncle Tupelo-esque number and one of the album's best tracks, pedal steel guitars wail as the listener is pulled along; "She Had a Boy" uses acoustic guitars and brushes to great effect; and the fiddle of "Back in Your Arms" simply adds to the desperation of the lyrics. Out Front by the Van is a great rock album, pure and simple: honest, loud, and catchy, and sure to appeal to anyone who looks for these things in their music, which should be everyone.

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