Grand Ole Party

(DH Records 2007)Grand Ole Party - Humanimals

San Diego trio Grand Ole Party call to mind what might have happened if Janis Joplin had sung for Led Zeppelin in some unknown dark and dank dive bar. While the band offers lighter instrumentation than Led Zep, they maintain the loose feel and throw some crunching riffs and melodies in from time to time. Produced by Rilo Kiley's Blake Sennett, Grand Ole Party's debut "Humanimals" is a vocally-drive combination of rock that jams.

Although the overall album is concise, each song feels as though it is meandering wildly as the long-winded half sung, half spoken vocals from singer and drummer Kristin Gundred add half the band's character. With just a bit of a groove, "Bella Isle" steps in and captures attention with its light melody and crisp chorus as the rocking "Redrum Heart" gathers energy and runs away with guitar licks filling in here and there. On "Gypsy March" the chorus comes pounding in after a quickly strummed melody while the lively riffs from bass and guitar keep "Troubadour of the Water" moving. "I've paid my taxes/I spend my money/I've been a good girl/What has it got me?" Gundred asks on "INSANE" as the bouncing song adds gentle background vocals for a retro sound.

Solid, shrill and commanding, Gundred's vocals dominate on the band's debut. Gundred never seems to run out of lyrics and is never at a loss for an opinion. While instrumentation sets the tone and rhythm throughout, thicker riffs or a different balance could make "Humanimals" into a completely different album. Quite frankly, Gundred is Grand Ole Party -- at least on their debut.