Nothing About Grover
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Nothing About Grover

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"Waitsfield band introduces award-winning rock"

Catchy melodies, pleasant harmonies and danceable beats are the strong points on "Remain" by the Waitsfield quartet Nothing About Grover. While the band's name may be enigmatic, there is little on "Remain" that is not easily understood. Singers-songwriters-guitarists James Kinne and Tara Orion front the band, which includes bassist Jim Bowen and drummer Jake Blodgett.

This is a band that won't wow the listener with power chords and wild lead-guitar playing, over-the-top screaming vocals, or off-the-chair percussion. NAG's strengths lie in its solid groove with a rhythm section that understands how to support Kinne and Orion's acoustic pop guitar-driven songs and sweet vocal harmonies.

This duo met in Connecticut a few years back at an open microphone performance but the two have made the Mad River Valley home for three years. In that time they have fashioned songs that rarely stray from themes of love, relationships and mid-20s angst. So well do their songs relate to young adults, that they recently won first place in UVMRocks.com's first online "Battle of the Bands," garnering 81 percent of the vote.

"Remain" is a CD that won't vibrate the walls with throbbing sounds and many of the words are simplistic, but in the context of pleasant listening NAG gets high marks.

Many of the themes and guitar parts here sound as if they had been lifted from music created in the 1970s. For example, on "Amelia" there are definite guitar references to the acoustic duo guitar riffs that made the trio America so popular back then.

While the CD wavers little from a formula of sweet har-monies over the guitars, with Bowen and Blodgett providing the beat, there are occasional ventures into more adventurous terrain. This happens on "Jazzy" where Kinne lays down a bouncy electric guitar riff over his own vocal. Then there is "Tulip Tree" with just Orion and her guitar – a solo, yet effective song.

"Industrial Sky" follows with its scratchy rhythm guitar part and environmental theme. The most playful song on the CD is "Snowy Day." It starts with a dark extended keyboard chord that segues into a guitar as happy children who get a day off from school. Adding children's background vocals and this is the most upbeat track on the album.

"Remain" is Nothing About Grover's first release. Kinne gets credits for engineering and producing the CD. If I have one quibble with the production it would be the lack of clarity in his and Orion's vocals. Perhaps I have aging ears, but most of the vocals were hard to understand and I think this was the fault of the studio.

That aside, "Remain" is a good first effort by two talents whose ability to write strong melodies and sing well is welcome.
- Times Argus, Vermont


""Remain" is a lasting listen."

As any attentive listener in the Mad River Valley knows, our community is crawling with musical talent. Stand in the center of Route 100 (after looking north and south for oncoming traffic) and swing a dead fiddle, and you cant help but hit a gifted musician. Weve got the Mad River chorale; Valley Players vocalizers; Bruce Sklar and Adele Nichols for jazz; the Mad River Scramblers and Don Roades and friends for bluegrass; Bruce Jones, Greg Ryan (go way south work with me here) and countless backyard pickers for acoustic; John, Garry and the Dead Set; and of course, the blues/soul fusion sound of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (and a big shout-out to them for signing their new national indie record contract).

But just when you think you may have heard all the great music the Valley has to offer, a new and exciting sound steps into the local mix. Nothing About Grover, a new foursome with the best band name Ive heard in some time, is officially announcing its presence with a debut CD and release party this Saturday, February 25 at 8:00 p.m. at the Valley Players Theater. And we are lucky to have them in our midst.

By day, you can find Grovers core duo personal and professional partners James Kinne and Tara Orion helping out around the Valley. A youthful and affable Kinne unassumingly slings sandwiches and helps with the cooking at the access roads Paradise Deli, while Orion keeps Bridges locals and out-of-towners happy with her warm welcome at the resorts front desk. During their off-hours these past several months, however, these two squirreled themselves away at their little ski chalet off of German Flats Road, where they set up a recording studio and produced Remain, their new fourteen song CD.

Rounding out their sound with bass and percussion, Nothing About Grover may be poised to emerge as one of central Vermonts most popular upcoming acts, judging by the advance buzz the band has received at Burlington clubs like Nectars and Club Metronome.

How does their new CD sound? In a word compelling. Think of everything you like about the past two decades of acoustic ear-catching pop – Toad the Wet Sprocket meets Natalie Merchant with an indescribable edginess thrown in and you can begin to imagine Grovers appeal. What makes Remain so interesting, however, is the eclectic variety of tunes assembled on one CD.

In a gutsy production move, the band begins with a haunting instrumentally-driven chant called dusk, quickly moving into the harmony-laden sidewalks and shores, where one immediately appreciates the meshing of Orion and Kinnes vocal styles. His mind is like Jerusalem, sings Orion on matts song, the third track, and by this time, you realize that this band has tremendous promise: lyrically, vocally, and musically.

And this should not be a surprise. The veteran Kinne, who toured nationally with bands like Angry Salad as a teenager, is the production mastermind behind Grovers sound, a subtly layered collage of guitars, synthesizer, and percussion that provide a platform for showcasing Orions arresting ethereal vocals and Kinnes warm voice. Remain showcases some real radio-friendly pop gems fire in august (track 6, perhaps my favorite), days like these, and the wonderful sleepy town, where Kinne, backed by Orions beautiful harmonizing, sings:

You come into the room like a memory in motion/Im sailing in your ocean much too long
Have you come to stay in this sleepy town/I can slow the clock down if youd like
(and later I can pull the moon down/if you like a wonderful image)

All is not sweetness and light here. Check out track 8s industrial sky, for example, a personal and provocative social critique, or the projects final eerie title track (14). But tunes like this one are balanced by songs like the wonderfully evocative Snow Day, in which Grover surrounds themselves with Fayston elementary school kids and even (if my ear is accurate) principal Christopher Dodge in a special audio cameo what snow day? (Perhaps if we play this beautiful song over and over, as my so Theron had me do in the car the other day, the snows will return).

One thing is for sure. Remain will stay with you. There is so much to like on this debut CD. Come here Nothing About Grover for yourself this Saturday night, and bring a friend! Doors open early, and food and drink will be served.

And listen for yourself at www.nothingaboutgrover.com. - The Valley Reporter, Vermont


Discography

Remain (2006)
4 Songs from Remain (2006)

Radio airplay at more than 150 college stations, and regional commercial stations including 99.9 The Buzz and 104.1 WBCN Boston.

Photos

Bio

James Kinne and Tara Orion had an undeniable chemistry from the first time they met. Amidst a sea of artists in central Connecticut, they collaborated on-stage that very first evening. Their writing easily bridged individual solo material to songs that were strengthened by their combined input.

Looking for inspiration, James introduced Tara to the Green Mountains of Vermont. The beauty and day-to-day pace in the mountains reflected James' fond memories of his childhood days when he would visit with his family. James and Tara turned to the wilderness for clarity and inspiration, and converted a mountainside ski lodge into a comfy home and professional recording and production studio named Stillwater. They wrote songs and recorded tracks that celebrated the fullness they felt in their new surroundings, and began a search for the right people to round out and add the finishing touches to their project.

Their patience paid and off and those "right" people came along: Jake Blodgett on drums and percussion, and Jim Bowen on bass. Both were journeymen performers from Vermont in the right place at the right time. Together they create a driving force that compliments the rhythmic structure of James and Tara's unique blend of acoustic/electronic music. In the spring of 2006, Nothing About Grover proudly released their first CD "Remain." Songs weave through various musical styles. Subtle touches of rock, folk, electronic, jazz, and soul paint a musical landscape seldom heard in popular music today.