Grampall Jookabox – Ropechain

Grampall Jookabox

Following in the footsteps of his solid debut from last year, Scientific Cricket, Grampall Jookabox returns with a nice follow-up. And although last year’s album was painted with “folksy” roots filled with airy guitars and almost transparent drums, David Adamson hasn’t lost any of his ironically funny and comical lyrics.

Ropechain finds Adamson and co. embracing their lower end to the fullest extent. Where his last album found him taking on lo-fi and airy production, here, the drums thump and beat with a loud ferocity. This is merely highlighted with Adamson’s forceful vocals and backdrop synths. “Let’s Go Mad Together” is a fine example of this as Adamson chants and sings in an almost frenetic, Byrne-like cadence, while tribal drums and eerie atmospherics lend their hand to the song’s bouncy feel. And even though the production isn’t exactly polished or shiny, it certainly breathes of a certain clarity and thus, richer quality.

But still, Adamson has always been about his playful lyrics and that doesn’t change one bit on Ropechain. Previously featured on an EP, “The Girl Ain’t Preggers” touches on that feeling of relief but yet, disappointment that arises when dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. Adamson reveals his inner falsetto and although the music rustles with crisp drums and a catchy idea, the lyrics aim at jokingly detailing a serious manner. This suits Adamson well because he can show off his earnest demeanor whiles still maintaining his oddball personality.

Jackson Glass touched on it with his review of last year’s album by Jookabox and once again, it shines on Ropechain. It’s this “I don’t take myself seriously and my music is for joy and fun” that truly gives the album a fantastic air of comfort. “You Will Love my Boom” rattles with pounding drums, grimy beats and Adamson’s best Aesop Rock impersonation; he has the uncanny ability of turning a romping jam into a demented love song.

What really makes everything sound that much better is the percussion on this album. And this is percussion in the sense of not only instruments from the Membranophone family but from the Idiophone family as well. Songs decorated with bells, cymbals (with some hi-hat,) chimes, triangle, xylophone and even marimba provide that extra facet to deliver a gem. Whether it is all of these effects on the slamming “Strike Me Down,” or the dynamite percussion that starts off and remains in the background for the astounding, “Old Earth, Wash My Beat,” this is one aspect of Adamson’s musicianship that is especially redeeming.

Once the trembling groove of “I’m Absolutely Freaked Out” ends, it’s hard to believe that all of this was mostly created during one lonesome weekend. Its almost clairvoyant and mystic sound makes for an interesting listen and one that shouldn’t be ignored. I wouldn’t do it justice but the album’s opener, “Black Girls,” is reason enough to fall for Ropechain. The choral vocals, lyrics out of any mainstream rapper’s book and body-rocking beats make up one excellent song. It’s great music and it clearly showcases the fact that Grampall Jookabox should have a steady and successful career ahead of him.