GRABASS CHARLESTONS, THE: The Greatest Story Ever Hula’d: CD

Sweat-dripping, whisky-drowned, dirty Florida punk at its finest. First off, the split these guys did with Billy Reese Peters, pick it up. Ever since I reviewed it, it’s just gotten better and it’s now firmly lodged as one of the top twenty releases of 2002. I’ll be completely honest, on first listen to this I wasn’t hooked. The vocals are a tad slower and the instruments aren’t as instantly dazzling and frenetic. Also, this full-length seems sadder, more morose. (Apparent evidence is the song title “Suicide at $8 an Hour” and the supporting documentation is the lyrics sheet.) Then the netting takes hold – little flashes, little hooks, little dips and wanes. Some horns on one song. Then, around the fifteenth time I popped this on, I didn’t hold it up to the expectation of their split, but held it up to itself. Now, I hate to use words like “songwriting maturity,” because that’s usually for dildos, but these songs are denser, richer, and a slightly bit more of an acquired taste. They look at wreckage (their own ashes) more than bombast (like going after their boss man). So, let’s compare. Like Tiltwheel, the tones are bright and happy, but the sentiment is dark, ultra-articulate and sad. (“We’ll be making a better resource sleeping six feet underground” and “I had the weirdest dream/ Where I went a whole day with a spear in my chest/ I kept waiting to die.”) Like Leatherface, the guitars weave in tight, then splay apart and shimmer. It’s like you’re immersed in their songs, filled with metaphoric life preservers and harpoons. Like Dillinger Four, no instrument takes the easy way out. Pure propulsion and fireworks. Like the Beltones, Will is drumming, but he’s also singing, and it’s catchy hard-drinking, working class without-the-cliché punk rock. Ultimately – and the final testament – is that The Grabass Charlestons are a band that others will start being compared to. A top of 2003 for me, no doubt.

 –todd (No Idea)