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Album Review

When Kristin Gundred, the lead vocalist of Grand Ole Party, lets loose with one of her primal blues wails, strong men salivate and weak crawl, as Gundred herself boasts on "Look Out Young Son," the opening track of Humanimals. "I must be the devil's daughter," she sings in a sexy, no holds barred tone, before declaring "Look out young son, when I bloom you'll come a crawlin'." Grand Ole Party are what used to be called a power trio: Gundred on vocals and drums, dropping a basic solid heart-thumping groove; Mike Kerchnyak keeping the beat moving forward with his propulsive basslines; and Paul Labno on guitar alternating between short tasty lead lines and clanging funky comped chords. There isn't a trace of indie rock pretense or any art rock poses, just solid blues-based tunes, driven by Labno's ability to add dramatic guitar flourishes that impress without overwhelming the arrangements and Gundred's voice, a one in a million howl that calls to mind everyone from Mae West to Bessie Smith, Grace Slick, and of course, Janis Joplin. And while she does possess Joplin's ability to send chills down your spine, her voice is smoother and lighter, although it can still slash like a razor. The band gets co-writing credit for all the tunes, and while Grand Ole Party almost always stay within the parameters of your basic two-minute-and-30-second commercial rock tune, there's plenty of variety here.

"Insane" sounds like an unknown tune by Bertolt Brecht as played by the Yardbirds, with a trace of Lotte Lenya's tremulous high end in Gundred's vocal. "Belle Isle" is a chunky, chugging R&B tune; Gundred shrieks out the a paean in praise of booze and scary good times with a slashing solo from Labno full of distorted bent notes. "Redrum Heart" is a sloppy Stones-like riff rocker with the boys whooping and moaning in the background while Gundred snarls out a goodbye to an unsatisfying lover. "Dirty Spirit Rag" sizzles like a roadhouse on fire, Kerchnyak pushing the beat, Labno supplying another subtle clanging solo, and Gundred howling at the moon. "Gypsy March" is Slavic swamp rock with Labno's rippling, Russian-flavored runs adding to the song's dark mystery. "Radio!," remixed by Jamaica dancehall legend Scientist, closes the album with a one-drop dubwise reggae protest song that catches you by surprise, especially Gundred's sweet, I-Threes-like overdubbed vocals. If some major label doesn't scoop up Gundred and try to make her a diva, it will be interesting to hear what this talented trio does for its follow-up. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews


Grand Ole Party is such an amazing live band!! This album is highly reccomended, go check them out on tour with Rilo Kiley right now!!


Best new group I've heard in a while, good stuff!


Never saw an opening band that I liked so much, I'm hoping they get some more exposure!


Formed: 2005

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Despite their name, San Diego's Grand Ole Party have nothing to do with the Republican Party; instead, they play tough, no-frills indie rock energized by the rich, wildly passionate vocals of drummer and lead singer Kristin Gundred. Grand Ole Party were formed in 2005 by Gundred, guitarist John Paul Labno, and bassist Mike Krechnyak while all three were students at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Labno's grew up in the San Francisco area, where his dad made a living playing music and...
Full Bio
Humanimals, Grand Ole Party
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Customer Ratings