"The Bad Years"

(Orangeworld Records 2003)Grain - The Bad Years

With vocalist Carla Simmons at the front of the musical ship that is Grain, the band's second album, "The Bad Years," is melodic and fluid. Simmons' vocals easily take and maintain control on "The Bad Years" as focused and well thought out instrumentation comes together to form a sound that has found more than a little inspiration in the 1970s.

Provoking curiosity more so than enlightenment, Grain hint at what the album holds as electronics whirl and echo on "Intro." Before you know it, the quiet introduction leads into "Landmine" and Grain's instrumentation slowly creeps up on you with full, quick choruses. Organ shrilly adds to "Jump Into The Fire" as Simmons' reiterates "we could make each other happy," adding a note of optimism as lively electric guitar takes command and sound soulful instead of premeditated. Drums pound on the quick driving "Everything You're Not" for a let loose rock approach. Meanwhile the intricate and gentle melodies of "Soul Session #5" and "Understood" show a different side while the lightly echoing "Third Floor" has a certain twang to transform the song into more than just a soft instrumental.

Few albums give you a sense of complete control but somehow Grain manages to accomplish it. From the first notes on "The Bad Years," Grain sets the tone, as if to say, "sit back and relax, we will take care of everything." A relaxed and confident front woman, Simmons is anything but cocky or aggressive in her role, instead blending her solid style into the band's instrumentation.


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