Ginkgo is the new band from Tapes ‘N Tapes frontman Josh Grier. Grier has described the project as a way for him to experiment with weird song structures and an improvised recording process. Essentially, Ginkgo is a one-man show, and the show is pretty damn awesome. I’ve been a long-time fan of Grier’s use of hooks and melody and an ever-present attention to detail and layered compositions. His songs are straightforward and odd, but there’s always a lot going on. His biggest strength may be his ability to re-invent his vocal delivery. While most lead singers tend to find a style that defines them, Grier’s delivery style is never static. He’s always finding new ways to tell strange stories, from falsetto, to punk, to screamo, varying his pitch and intensity between and within songs.
Manopause doesn’t necessarily exist outside of the sound of the Tapes ‘N Tapes universe. While the songs sound more stripped down, it’s not the result of less layers but of less production. Grier’s admitted that a good portion of the album didn’t change much between his home recordings and the resulting studio versions. Sure, these songs would sound great with pristine production from a LA-based hitmaker, but there’s an authentic feel to the tracks in their original form. “Faded Glory” is an obvious standout and a perfect example of this idea. It sounds as if Grier decided to use his demo drum machine and Casio tones, and the result is one of the best songs Grier has delivered in either band. Keep your bloated Green Day and Mumford and Sons albums, I’ll take Grier’s songwriting and vocals any day. “Bitte Meddler” is another standout track that we’ll likely be placing on our end-of-the-year list. The percussion is more polished, Grier’s lyrics are top-notch, and the guitar solo (bands still write guitar solos?) is the high point on the record. Overall, the filler is absent, and Manopause is one of our favorite albums of 2013. Please keep them coming, Mr. Grier!