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Project Grand Slam Releases New Album

With a patient pacing that could go a long way to teaching others how to focus in a live performance, Project Grand Slam invites us into the neo-bucolic play of “No No No,” one of the cornerstone tracks of their new record It’s Alive!, but this instrumental charisma is only the tip of the iceberg for what this concert compilation LP has in store for listeners. Tracks like the imaginative and emotionally-charged “The Queen’s Carnival” and sonically evocative “Yeah Yeah” lure us into a false sense of security with their melodic wiles before ultimately turning us over to the churn of a melancholic harmony that seems to embody the very feeling of aging and reminiscing over youthful dalliances now in the rearview mirror.

“I’m Falling off of the World,” as it’s presented to the listener in It’s Alive!, is stylized like a specifically casual tribute to the fusion of bands like Chicago back in their prime, but its inherent intensity acts as a direct segue for us to connect our intimacy with that of the players. Emotion is everywhere we look and listen in this album, and even when it feels like we’re about to take a turn towards the familiar, Robert Miller’s PGS makes it clear that they’re not interested in reliving the past in this live record – truthfully, they’re doing the exact opposite.

“Aches and Pains” is a little more lyrically accessible than the plain-spoken searcher “At Midnight” is, but neither of these tracks sports the kind of stinging instrumental value that “Fire” does. In their live incarnations, the songs that make up this LP are progressive in tone and style, allowing for each track to flow into the next as if they were always meant to be heard in a single sitting. They’re not playing an arena show here, but Project Grand Slam is feeding off of a different energy in this performance than they have in the standard recording sessions they’ve shared with us to date.

“Redemption Road” sets the mood right out of the gate while the mid-LP “I’m So Glad” ushers us into the second act of the album like a critical turning point in a major motion picture. The cinematic vibe is off the charts, and that’s not usually the case with indie records like this one.

In extended tracks “I Can’t Explain,” “The One I’m Not Supposed to See,” and the more moderate “Lament,” we get a full-circle look at the multidimensionality of Project Grand Slam without ever veering off of a consistent artistic trajectory, and if you’ve heard any of these three tracks beforehand, you know what an impressive feat that is in itself.

Songs like “Gorilla” don’t require us to know a lot about their creators to feel their pain, particularly the deep-rooted kinship they’re born of, and for the music culture we live in nowadays, that’s nothing to scoff at. All in all, It’s Alive! is a sterling effort from a band and frontman that has been raising an eyebrow or two with every LP they’re stuck their name on.

Mindy McCall



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