It’s obvious they don’t make things like they used to. In the case of Guy Grogan’s music, that sentiment is certainly a good thing.
With 10 albums since 2010, the one-man band runs more track than Usain Bolt. He’s catchy. He’s dynamic. And with his latest, Glitter In The Gears, he’s an indie fun bag with endless possibilities.
I must say the term “one-man band” immediately raised a skeptical pink flag. Typical ‘one-man bands’ attempting to record each track single-handedly seemingly end up sounding more like scene from M*A*S*H than a respectable record. However, Grogan’s style, pacing and perfectionism with this album proved me wrong.
Glitter In The Gears starts with a catchy melody in “Anatomy of a Crush.” The fun, up-tempo song quickly gets stuck in your head with the memorable lead-guitar riff. The guitar solo during the bridge isn’t bad either; it’s actually pretty amazing for a musician that appears to be a ‘Jack of all trades and a master of none.’ His voice, although drawn, is appealing in this song, sounding that of a Tom Petty 2K. It’s a track that brings up images of a lively garage jam on a cool, summer afternoon.
Other tracks such as “Myself Away” and “Between Sundays,” have the same effect. Both have a retro feel – the first with a crunchy riff and the latter with an admirable and vigorous arrangement that would fit perfect with an old Super 8.
There’s also the lighter, and in my opinion, more captivating side to the album with “Stick the Landing” and “House For the Leaving.” Both have amazing acoustics. The finger-picking on “House For The Leaving” immediately hypnotizes you. But while both showcase some fantastic acoustic chops, the vocals certainly don’t soothe the ears. And there are no memorable lyrics or catchy hooks which grab you long-term.
Glitter In The Gears’ strengths lie towards the back side of the album. While “Where All The Hearts Go” sounds like a 90s pop rock ballad and “Before We’re Gone” has it’s fair share of great hooks, there are two songs in particular that would resonate well with almost anyone.
“In time I realized,” was the first hook that truly grabbed me. The line from “Just Don’t Know,” along with the line, “I wanna feel kinda bright” from “Head Start To Light,” were the lyrical chops I was waiting for from an award-winning songwriter such as Grogan.
Not that each song has to have a ‘hook,’ but much of Glitter In The Gears isn’t as memorable as I had hoped. The aforementioned tracks bring me back to those initial expectations. Especially when adding yet another cool, slick bridge – another songwriting strength of Grogan – in “Just Don’t Know.” The coming of age story reminds me of falling in love with the sorority girl in college, only to realize you’re much happier with the girl that can down a 40-oz. keg stand at the dive bar.
One can’t diminish the accomplishments of Grogan and his musical ability. Especially when adding a sweet, jazz vibe like “Aelegy,” Glitter In The Gears is a tremendously dynamic album that proves one man really can make a band, and make it sound like any genre imaginable.
Now I just wonder how he performs live?
Josh Helmuth is an editor for Crave and a longtime music lover whose first record was Eric Clapton. However, his first concert? That choice he will take to the grave.
Listen to Glitter In The Gears by Guy Grogan here.