Review Summary: Always in season...
Throughout American Graffiti’s
runtime, one may be inclined to say that Strawberry Girls have matured. In comparison to French Ghetto
, the songs are tighter, the production crisper, and their trademark groove, if anything, is stronger than ever. However, that would imply that the band that made French Ghetto
was somehow less mature than the band now, which is simply untrue. From their inception, Strawberry Girls have displayed an amazing level of finesse with their songwriting that normally takes years to develop, striking a perfect balance between their trademark aggressive groove-laden sound and a progressive edge that keeps each song fresh. So what then could you call the sound found American Graffiti
if not a maturation? How about an expansion?
One notable thing about Strawberry Girls, albeit a thing that makes them so great, is that it’d be hard to call any one member of the band a virtuoso of their instrument. Sure, Zachary Garren’s penchant for creating some downright infectious riffs and licks are on full display in songs like “Spanish Bay” and “Violent Night”. Drummer Ben Rosett shows remarkable range from the slower paced “Egypt” to the furious “Antiquation”. Hell, bassist Ian Jennings pretty much runs “Egypt”, an album highlight, and steals the show with the outro of “Harpy 1975”, but as skillful as the band is technically, none of their performances would exactly win any awards. What makes American Graffiti
so compelling is the way the band seemed to have been in each other’s minds while writing the album. The compositions never feel lacking, with every note and rhythm being structured and executed by the band in the best possible ways. It’s this cohesive breed of songwriting that allows every member of the band to shine which in turn allows their special brand of funky groove to permeate every corner of American Graffiti
And make no mistake, it’s the groove that will keep listeners returning to American Graffiti
months, even years down the road. Strawberry Girls have crafted their own tangy concoction of it and slathered it all over these songs. The aforementioned “Egypt”, although darker in tone and (just a tad) slower in pace than much of American Graffiti
, showcases everything that’s right about Strawberry Girls, allowing the listener to really take in the whole song without the speed of much of the rest of the album. Much like “Egypt”, American Graffiti
utilizes some nifty production and clever songwriting to give each song a personality. “Spanish Bay” conjures images of a waterfront shanty town starting a busy day, while in stark contrast the band cranks up the distortion and shows listeners some surprising edge with “Antiquation”.
is a special album. It showcases a unique brand of relentlessly catchy groove which has been largely untapped by musicians in today’s scene. The diversity among the songs and terrific songwriting lend to a feeling of completeness for the album, not leaving the listener wishing more could have been done when it’s over. However, perhaps the greatest aspect of this album is the fun factor. One listen to the nod to Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” in “Simon Vandetta”, and it’s easy to imagine how much fun the guys had recording American Graffiti
. And if you ain’t having fun making your music, what are you doing?