Album Review: Grooveback- Self Titled

Review by Alex Goyetche

grooveback album submissionThese review requests often come with a list of achievements from the band, in an attempt to do something I’m not exactly sure of. Is it that they think us reviewers will be impressed and therefore be more likely to enjoy their music? Is it that we will think to ourselves, “well I don’t really care for this, but other people must like it. So I won’t be too critical.” Either way, this same kind of list was the beginning of my experience with “Grooveback” and it had me saying “hmm.”

The first step I usually take when reviewing is to head over to the band’s website or social media platform. Often I will find a write-up of the band that delves into the importance of each member, trying in some way to enlighten the potential listener to the whole mantra and platform of the group. I find it increasingly difficult to believe that these write ups are actually authentic and not a “This is Spinal Tap” style pastiche when I find phrases like “Capturing a sense of freedom which moves from your mind down to your feet, igniting your instinct to dance. A feeling not often exposed.”

Capturing a sense of freedom? Hmm.

Also I’ll often encounter lines like, “playing a genre of music that is hard to pin down”. Well that’s just not true at all. If your band is called “Grooveback,” that is a pretty good indication that you are well within the generic conventions of post-Chili Peppers funk rock. It’s actually very easy to pin down. I read these biographies that are riddled with wonderfully creative ways to embellish the musicians. “[The] bass guitar is that of a bare knuckle boxer,” etc, - with no source cited at the end. Not any indication that the band didn’t write this self-indulgent whiffle themselves. Someone in this band actually sat down and wrote that they were a part of something that captures a sense of freedom.

This is something that bothers me a lot. If they just marketed themselves as a jam band that was all in good fun (because they’re called “Grooveback”), and was essentially mindless head-bopping entertainment, I wouldn’t mind. But instead they’re telling me that they’re here to open minds. Once again this seems like a gag from “Tenacious D,” rather than an actual serious statement. But believe me, it’s all there.

Next I read the track listing. I have to say that it is very, very hard to take a song seriously when it has a name like, “Be Yourself” or “Woman on Woman.” Forget the fact that my blood is clotting with cynicism, I will never like a song called “Be Yourself,” unless it’s being sung by Elmo and Robert De Niro.

Yes, all this is what rushed through my head even before I started listening to the album.The first song kind of sounds like The Chili Peppers meet Stevie Ray Vaugan. If I had to summarize the lyrics, it would read as, “I like you, you’re smart, but basically I just want to fuck you”. Hmm.

For a band that has the word “Groove” in their name, the transitions are frighteningly loose and unconvincing. The only part of the song that seems to work is the verse, which is a typical “Funky”, though I use that word lightly, riff.

The vocal interludes that consist of just talking are painfully dull. The third song begins with a mock radio DJ saying “Welcome to the Groovestation” paving the way to a really upbeat major song that just reminds me of having too many cups of coffee and being nauseous. This song is “Be Yourself,” of course.

The lyrics on this drift from painfully retrograde to casual misogyny in a way that is just shockingly boring. Summed up with some of the most bizarre endings to songs I’ve ever heard. The ending to “Woman on Woman”, the fourth track, is a fade out that seems to come out of thin air and ends the song much too quickly.

The guitar sticks to playing simple patterns of what most people would refer to as “jazz chords”. The bass is busy and sounds like it comes from the kind of person who learned how to play “Portrait of Tracy” when they were 16.. When there is a section of music that consists of some choked strumming, it seems necessary for the singer to say “alriiiight, ohh yeaah, yeaah baby”. It’s the impatient noodling that can be found in every section of music on this album.

Here’s a great example of the lyrics on this album;“2+3 is five and you’re lucky you’re alive”. And also,“I’m ready for you, but I’m not ready for love.” These kinds of lines read as nonsense to me. So it becomes a problem, because I think music is a justified art form, and most people would probably agree. But this isn’t an art form; it’s blokey beer drinking foolishness.

And yet, the album can’t seem to make up its mind. One minute the song is about nothing in particular, and then the next minute the content shifts to lyrics that are deliberately topical.

The fact that they spend half the album attempting to go in a serious direction is absolutely ridiculous. It comes across as nothing but ponderous tripe. One song will glorify violence, ending with a taunt to “step outside” ala masculine displays at a bar fight. All with the wonderful top off of a police siren. And then in the next breath they condemn violence. What on earth is happening? The tenth song, “Riverview” is a very poor attempt to paint a picture of domestic violence. When I was in the sixth grade I had a mix CD made for me, and it had the song “Never Again” by Nickleback on it. That song is exactly the same as this one. They’re both bad.

Then the last track comes. You made it through the whole 12 track CD so that means they must be allowed to have a song that’s the best part of six and a half minutes long. This means they can evoke Rush and have some arpeggiating riffs. Oh hey man, it’s the last song, it's serious, war is bad you know? We oughtta stop that whole thing. The last track is called “Just Another.”

“We don’t wanna be just another” the singer chants. Well… I’m going to spare making that obvious joke.

Then it stops.

In their description the band stresses the importance that friendship plays in their lives. They like good times and good friends. I have nothing against that. Hell, that’s the reason most of us got into music. But there is a clear divide between having fun with your buddies in a garage somewhere, and asking someone to seriously critique your album.

I would refer the reader, incidentally, to a UK outfit called “The Heavy” who are probably a good example of what this trite funk rock sounds in a professional context in this 21st century. If you actually do want to hear this kind of music, and would rather not go and buy some Motown records, perhaps check them out.


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