The Grunts – Cult Before Country [IC006]

The Grunt’s long-awaited second LP ‘Cult Before Country’ is out now through Inner Chapter Records.

The album can purchased through our Bandcamp page. A purchase of the CD copy of the album includes an automatic free digital download.

Read about the album below.

The Grunts – Cult Before Country

Towards the close of The Grunt’s second album ‘Cult Before Country’ lead singer Liam O’ Shea gives a cathartic yell in the form of the line “Reflections in my mirror shades!”

The lyric is a call-back to the title of the band’s first full-length album and it is revealing of a consistent theme of this band in both their songs and their perception: that while you can enjoy whatever is happening on the surface, there’s more to be found underneath.

In tense opening title track, for instance, the band evoke the first of a series of oceanic images, calling out to “the Gods that live underneath”. The beautiful second track ‘Iberiana’ talks of disembodied voices calling to a lonely soul across the sea. As pure alternative rock music, these songs hit all the right notes. But listen a little closer and they always say a little more than you first think.

The band’s American influences from punk to indie to alternative rock have always been present across their catalogue but in ‘Cult Before Country’ this really comes to the fore in both the individual songs and the thematic progression of the album. The band’s previous shows in New York inspired the East-coast blaze of no-nonsense rock that is ‘NYC Woman’, and the album comes to a close with the lively but far more chilled-out West-coast vibe of ‘Coming Into San Francisco’; if this album is a cross-country road-trip then it fits a wealth of experiences, ideas and colourful characters into ten short songs.

‘Frigid Air’ resurrects a frightening lost classic from O’ Shea’s old project The Road wherein a frustrated narrator sings in both graphic and blackly comic terms about his plans for finding love. “Let me have my wicked way I’ll make you a star” gives an idea of where that goes.

‘Into Submission’ and ‘The Guy That Stalked You Has Become the President’ are both short frenetic burst of energy that display O’ Shea’s knack for lyrical duality; both these songs are about twisted, manipulative forms of love that double as explorations of some form of oppression. At base though, they are just pure, unadulterated fun, as is the fresh presentation of previously unreleased live favourite ‘If It Feels Good Do It’.

‘The Ballad of Ed Gein’ is the kind of song that offers a welcome respite from the full-on assault of the middle of this album. It sounds like it’s been written by someone enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon with their partner, until the lyric ‘He sees your skin hanging there, will he take it for his bride?’ reminds you that this song has more in keeping with the afore-mentioned Frigid Air, and the other freaky characters of the band’s back-catalogue.

‘Cult Before Country’ does feature one entirely blissed out, gentle track in the form of ‘Every Time We Kiss Goodbye.’ This track was worked on and given a limited release after the band’s first album, and here it is reworked as a gently soaring love song, a kindred spirit to early track Iberiana but with none of the darkness, serving as a nice diffusion of all the tension and energy that has gone before it.

While the gap between LP 1 and its full-length follow up was longer than the band expected, this has had the effect of letting them dwell on and refine the subject matter of the songs, while losing none of the spontaneity in their final execution. In the journey of making ‘Cult Before Country; the band left a lot of songs at the side of the road, but given the dark power on display across The Grunt’s catalogue, it won’t be long before they make themselves known to the world.

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