Grandview Station – Grandview Station – Album Review
According to everything I’ve listened to, read about & researched on Grandview Station, there are other players on this record that you’ll hear other than lead-singer/guitarist Scott Arivett – we just don’t know who fits in where exactly. There’s an entire list of’em up at the main website…but make no mistake…this is clearly Scott’s project from the looks of things…the majority of the write-ups & press I’ve been reading are definitely geared towards making sure you know that – so I suppose I better pass that on! In a true testament to commitment unlike any you’re ever like to find or read about again, he’s resurrecting the Grandview Station name from his high-school band from back in 1982, even though he is indeed, the only player from the original lineup left in the band. And I ain’t gonna lie, that’s odd…there’s no doubt about that at all to me…essentially Scott’s in a whole new band; that being said, he’s been hanging onto some of these songs for more than thirty years waiting for the moment to get them recorded and this chapter of his life completed…& maybe now that time has come.
For the record, I’m just poking him in the ribs a bit…bottom line is I’ve got all the respect in the world for a guy like this that has found a way to achieve his goals in making an album after all these years. After giving Grandview Station several spins – I think one of the things I appreciated most was that the songs themselves don’t sound stuck in the past. There are definitely strong elements of a more 70’s-rock style at times, but mixed-in with progressive ideas & clever Americana/Roots-Rock vibes that make an album like this still plenty relevant for the right here & now. Instrumentation on this self-titled record is sharp & on-point, the execution is there in both performance & production – and Arivett’s got a killer presence on the mic. I’ve got my moments here & there with the lyrics, but in terms of the songwriter’s timeless style, he’s doing a ton of things right that’ll certainly grab the attention of many people out there listening from the everyday set of ears to those that truly respect the art & craft.
The smooth & stylistic opening on “Loser” breaks-way into a killer rhythm & groove as the album gets underway. Vocally, I think Scott flashes a lot of what’ll continue to get stronger as the record plays on, he undeniably starts out on strong, bold, and confident tones, but there are many highlights & fireworks to come from him later on as well. As far as the vocal-flow is concerned, it’s aces…content & theme wise, it works well too; if there’s an Achilles Heel in the writing, it’s the same that many go through in that mad search for a word that rhymes & still fully represents what we want to say at the same time. That’s never an easy thing to do when it comes right down to it – Scott does it better than most can; there’s still going to be hits & misses along the way when it comes to that method, but for the majority of this record, the smooth rhythm & flow of his approach to the vocals will slide him right past any severe judgments on that, because it still sounds so damn good to listen to. It’s an aspect that’ll show up on a few of these tunes, so I’ll get that out of the way by saying it now and leave that where it is. While it might not also be the happiest of themes to start out this experience after so long in the making, “Loser” makes up for that with a ton of appealing sound dynamics that make an impact. You can’t miss the stylistic swagger that Scott brings to the vocals, the hooks are strong, the instrumentation and backing vocals are well placed around the main ideas…it all adds up to decent first impression, gives a perfect indication of where Grandview Station can go, and gives the record plenty of room to grow.
“Bad Mood Rising” was the first cut on the record that I felt gave us an even better glimpse into the incredible musicianship you’ll find on this album. Heading more towards the groove-rock based sound, “Bad Mood Rising” sits in a unique space as far as the accessibility is concerned…I can hear that a ton of people inside & out of the Rock-genres would dig on something like this. And you’ll hear a whole bunch of these killer crossover ideas throughout this record, this is the first of many. While there might be less of a change in the overall vibe & flow of a track like this, it’s undeniable ALL hook…so at the end of the day, believe me, people will definitely dig this. It’s got unique ideas to start it up and smart textures & clever change-ups with the vocal effects flowing from the lefts to the rights on this tune that lead the way to an early highlight in the beginning stages of Grandview Station. I really dig that this cut didn’t reach too far outside of the place where it began…personally I felt like that really bolstered the uniqueness you’ll find in this tune that kept it separate from the rest of what you’ll hear on this album in its own notably cool & identifiable way. “Bad Mood Rising” is wild in style but still subtle & controlled enough to still feel like we’re waiting on that BIG moment to reveal itself on the Grandview Station record…and that turned out to be right around the corner.
Letting those Americana-roots come shining through, “Where I’m Not Wanted” immediately comes out sounding like a single-worthy tune. Seriously vibrant, the sliding guitar tones from Scott and the brilliant performance that guest star Mike Stanley puts in on the microphone here have style for miles. A crossover sensation, you could get away with playing this tune pretty much anywhere out there on the radio today, truly. The Rock stations, the Country stations, heck, even the Pop stations out there would take this – there’s a winning combination of versatility in sound that could definitely draw a ton of people into listening to the rest of this album were this to be put out there as a single. Hooks roar from all angles of this killer vibe, the verse, the chorus, the instrumentation…everything is working to 100% of this song’s potential and comes out with a universally accessible sound that I’d imagine would be tough for anyone to resist. As many times as I went through this album, I kept coming back to “Where I’m Not Wanted” as having the most potential as the gateway into the music of Grandview Station – it’s got supremely fantastic LIFE running through the veins of this song and a great balance of weighted-emotions in the lyrics with an uplifting vibe in the music that couldn’t possibly be ignored. Excellent breakdown, perfect bring-back – everything about this cut screams single in the smoothest & most inviting ways that can be done.
Dialing back the up-tempo energy in favor of the more brooding sound & melody on “Hate To Love You” – Grandview Station switches it up and digs deep on this fourth tune. Another brilliant solo filled with incredible tone…short & sweet, but it’s perfect & an excellent gateway into a keyboard solo that’ll lead into a powerful build-up & emotionally charged moment on “Hate To Love You.” It’ll break once more before the end, this time completely severing the parts of the song in a full-stop before soaring back into solos & impressive musicianship before the end. I wasn’t entirely sure of this one as the verse began, but with the powerful switch into the chorus, I felt like “Hate To Love You” found the gear it was looking for from there on. That transition back into the verse from the first chorus ends up being just as powerful…it continually gets stronger as this song summons its emotional strengths. Definitely felt like due to its placement on the album, “Hate To Love You” will have a tougher time being instantly loved following “Where I’m Not Wanted” – BUT…I think this song will definitely find the audience it deserves and hold up over time. Each time I heard this cut, I felt like I became more attached to it overall.
“Crashing By Design” was one of the meatier tunes and concepts on the album…I really felt like this held up over repeat spins as well. You can hear the craft in the songwriting here, both in the instrumentation and the lyrical content…and that lead-in to the solos around the 2:25 mark is straight-up freakin’ immaculate. Love the sound of Scott’s guitars throughout this entire record…the solos always come out sounding remarkable – but listen to the tones he’s got in moments like the rhythm that drives much of “Crashing By Design” and how spot-on his more simpler contributions can be as well. No doubt the guy can do complex on command – he’s a seriously great player…but he displays just as much strength by finding the perfect ways to complement the vibe of a song without always dominating it. Whether he’s rocking rhythm or lead, you can set your watch by this guy’s timing & precision and the remarkable tones that he continually finds are right on the money. I haven’t made nearly enough comments on the quality of the drumming throughout the album, so I’ll make some here – I love what’s going on in “Crashing By Design” and how they add to the entire structure of the songs on this record. Intricately played, the toms sound fantastic and the overall combination of punch & restraint in the hits has been pretty much nothing short of superhuman throughout this whole album. But notice that they’re not just keeping the beat – they truly add to the music, strengthen structures like “Crashing By Design” and help lead Grandview Station in the right direction song after song.
But those bass-lines too! The bass-lines on this record NEVER quit…as awesome as anything we’ll hear on the microphone or the guitars can be, it might just be the true unsung hero of what makes this album fantastic to listen to. The presence they have and the way they can often lead the melody on songs like “Fall From Grace” is definitely more than noteworthy, it’s essential. There are many things that saved this tune for me – I think “Fall From Grace” was about as close as I was to being on the fence about any of the songs on this record. Lyrically, this one’s a tough one…where the craft of traditional songwriting breaks that suspension of disbelief a bit and makes it tougher to enjoy on that level because it feels less connected on a personal level, despite much of the themes attempting to convey that very thing. It’s nearly fatally attached to the rhyme-scheme when it comes to the words of “Fall From Grace” – and in my opinion, Scott’s shown us more in this department by comparison to the rest prior…there was a sense that the craft had gotten the best of him in that attempt to write ‘the perfect song’ and melody-line. That being said, he still sings it all spot-on…moments like the music around the 2:25 mark and nearing the three-minute point really stand-out…the addition of a lil’ saxophone on this one definitely didn’t hurt either. Really…it’s a perplexing tune in that sense that I dig on the entire vibe as a whole; I’m somewhat at odds with the lyrics of this particular tune for the reasons I’ve explained…but I still really found “Fall From Grace” to fit this record and really be no less listenable than the rest of the songs. The execution and commitment in the musicianship & performances on these songs count for a lot.
In terms of pure sonic journeys on the Grandview Station album, “Unheeded Warnings” is by far & away one of the most rewarding experiences on the album to listen to. Expanding the band’s sound in every possible direction to really let the rhythm & flow move, the groove get intense, the solos come right to the surface and seriously take a moment or two in the spotlight for a ride – shifting into a nearly eight-minute long song pays off big-time for Scott & his crew on this cut. With the gripping pace and amazing harmonies that come through, the vocal rhythms, guitar riffs, and bass-lines rippin’ it up – it’s honestly one of the shortest nearly eight-minute experiences you’ll ever hear. This track flies by. It’s just straight-up captivating and executed magnificently from beginning to end…even the lyricism on this track stood out as some of the best you’ll find on this record; and due to the fact that we’re all so on the edge of our seat through the tempo & pace and the remarkable pull of the entire sound on “Unheeded Warnings,” you get to the end of this eight-minute epic feeling like you could take on eight minutes more of it! Really strong chorus on this cut…amazing personality and charisma in the guitars…and as far as Scott is concerned, I think he unquestionably puts in one of his most ultimate performances on the microphone throughout “Unheeded Warnings.” As much as I love the chorus on this tune, I gotta say, the balance is straight-up stunning all-around…the verse basically has just as much pull to it, and the surrounding instrumentation & musicianship on this cut raises the stakes continually as it plays on. I’ve enjoyed every track on this record when it comes right down to it…that much has been made clear by now I’m sure – BUT…I’ll admit, each time I came around to this tune, it definitely made me realize I want a whole bunch more of THIS specifically from Grandview Station…and I hope now that this train is officially rolling and this album has been recorded, that we’ll get more in the future one day. “Unheeded Warnings” is a true adventure and experience…I never wanted this cut to end – and for a nearly eight-minute long song dear readers, dear friends – you KNOW that’s an achievement in itself. And for a song of this length to come out with as much potential as this does to be a single is a whole other thing – I felt like “Unheeded Warnings” was unquestionably one of the best tunes on this record.
Having said all that good stuff…I mean…I pretty much fail to understand what anyone else out there could want from an audio experience other than what you’ll find on the following track “Acid Reign” – this cut SLAYS the speakers! Almost the polar-opposite of “Unheeded Warnings” before it, Grandview Station FIRES UP an instrumental jam here in a short three-minute tune that works the rhythm & groove in ways that couldn’t possibly be ignored by any set of ears out there. If you love your Hendrix – if you love your psych 60’s/70’s and kickass progressive tunes from there on up, you’ve got every reason to start “Acid Reign” out with full volume and the full confidence to do so. The drums storm and pound like the dude’s life depends on it, the amount of captivating sound that they’ve all collectively packed into this track is nothing short of award-worthy…for those of you out there that don’t think an instrumental song could ever hold your short attention spans that need a sing-along top-40 tune – I DARE you to try out “Acid Reign” and somehow deny its awesomeness. Go ahead, I’ll wait. All the proof you need to know that the instrumentation on Grandview Station is right up there with the best of the best – the band goes beyond the words here to reveal the full strength of the magic in the music alone. Even a drum solo on “Acid Reign” – you gotta love it!
Give the man some credit…these songs deserved to get recorded and I’m stoked that Scott got the opportunity to get these out there. For real – it’s clearly been a lifelong dream for the guy, and hearing the end results of how this has all come out for him so spectacularly on the Grandview Station album is inspiring, truly. It’s a confirmation to keep going…not just for him, but for us all. Take a page out of Scott’s book here…and never give up. Because one day, you too might make a record you’ve always been wanting to make…and if you’re real lucky, it’ll come out as engaging and listenable as this album has been. Love the sound of the drums and bass in the rhythm section driving the groove on “Between The Lines” – smart subtle use of keyboards in the mix, great flow from Mike Stanley on the mic once again…the night-driving sleek & stylistic cool hangs throughout the atmosphere & attitude of this tune. This song honestly puts on a clinic in terms of how to complement the sound from each instrument and the level in how each part interacts with the others…pretty much an impeccable vibe on “Between The Lines” when it comes to the music. Vocally, I think for the most part it comes across well…wasn’t my absolute favorite when it comes to the three of Mike’s performances (“Where I’m Not Wanted”/”Crashing By Design”/”Between The Lines”) on this album, but I’m not complaining either. Another genuine highlight when it comes to the guitar solos and instrumentation filled with badassery.
I mean, in general, there have been solos that will drop your jaws to the ground in amazement on pretty much every song on this record…but in my opinion, the one you’ll find before the three-minute mark on the final track “It Won’t Be Me” might be some of the finest work you’ll discover. Scott has a genuine gift and it’s great to have heard him getting to put that out there throughout this set of songs; he’s got a fantastically expressive voice & his guitar playing has so much character & charisma that it’s impossible not to notice. Ending the album on another song that has crossover potential and a charming sweetness to it that’s unlike any other you’ll find on Grandview Station makes for one last fantastic switch on what’s been a truly impressive ride through a colorfully expressive, emotionally powerful, and highly engaging debut – if it was only “It Won’t Be Me” that I’d heard after all this time, I’d reckon the entire journey was still worth it. The guitars come out stunningly clear and boldly beautiful, the lyrics have a balance of wisdom & melancholy that are brought right to the surface through one of Scott’s most bulletproof performances on the microphone that you’ll hear on Grandview Station…he’s got every bit of his heart & soul in this song…and though it might be a crushed heart at times, it’s clearly still beating strong. The harmonics played on the guitars in the melody sparkle & shine…the gentle, delicate, and fragile nature of this entire melody really worked amazingly well. “It Won’t Be Me” wouldn’t be the typical ‘single’ sound you usually picture – but the level of perfection in this final tune makes this slow-mover really come out like one…I could make a very strong argument on this song’s behalf. There’s not a solitary second of “It Won’t Be Me” that I didn’t want to listen to over and over again…the vibe in the music & vocals are an astounding match and Scott’s mix of insightful emotions on the microphone bring this last track to truly memorable heights & this album to the stunning conclusion the effort deserved.
Find out more about Grandview Station from the official website at: https://www.grandviewstation.com