Rip Van Winkle: The Grand Rapids EP [Album Review]

Rip Van Winkle
The Grand Rapids EP
Splendid Research [2024]

Album Overview: Rip Van Winkle was originally announced as a mysterious Robert Pollard project. Now, with its release, we know a bit more about the EP as several members of Joseph Airport—Ben Perry (guitar), Joe Patterson (bass), and Jason Short (drums)—round out the band, with Pollard, of course, as the head of the classroom. The EP features 8 songs with a concise running time of 18 minutes and was mastered by longtime collaborator Travis Harrison.

Musical Style: The EP is a “back to the roots” sort of release that fits right in with some of Pollard’s more experimental side projects. Not many Pollard projects sound the same, and The Grand Rapids EP is no exception as there is some post-punk, bizarro psych ramblings, an instrumental, and a rock ‘n’ roll finish. If you have your Pollard collection sorted by styles, you can slide this one somewhere in with Psycho And The Birds, The Sunflower Logic, Teenage Guitar, and the long-running Circus Devils.

Evolution of Sound: Rip Van Winkle features Bob playing guitar on every track but one. The other band members not only contribute with the standard guitar, bass, and drums but you will also hear the tambourine, kalimba, sleigh bells, ratchet, temple blocks, gong, glockenspiel, and a euphonium. There is everything from Pollard’s multi-style book like the more experimental out-there “He Did The Clock,” complete with the winding and some Pollard moans to the Bob-only track strumming the guitar and singing on “Storage.”

Artists with Similar Fire: Like other Pollard releases, you can hear plenty of different bands in this music. Everything from The Moles to The Clean and even a more post-punk style in places like Protomartyr or Pile.

Pivotal Tracks: “Prose Kaiser” is the opening and strongest track on the EP. Its angular post-punk approach feels at home as everything swirls around that familiar Pollard vocal. “Storage” is such a simple track with its 1:25 runtime, but it kicks off side two of the EP, and with Bob just singing with his guitar, it captures his prolific genius. “I got a lot of things to do, but I gotta get some glue.” is one memorable line from the track. The closing “The Metal Clip That Goes Over” shuts the book on The Grand Rapids EP with style. It is a more straightforward rocker that finishes with a forceful last vocal from Pollard as the band just takes you out with a solid encore-type ending!

Lyrical Strength: The lyrics are always a treat when it comes to Robert Pollard, and The Grand Rapids EP is no different. From “I’m a coward wolf” in “No Crowns For Valdez” to “don’t drink it, don’t eat it, don’t snort it, don’t smoke it, don’t sell it” on “The Metal Clip That Goes Over,” there are plenty of lines to enjoy on each track minus the instrumental “Images From A Dead Planet.”

Nowhere To Go But Up (2023) / Welshpool Frillies (2023) / La La Land (2023) / Scalping The Guru (2022) / Tremblers And Goggles By Rank (2022) / Crystal Nuns Cathedral (2022) / It’s Not Them. It Couldn’t Be Them. It Is Them! (2021) / Cub Scout Bowling Pins: Clang Clang Ho (2021) / Earth Man Blues (2021) / Mirrored Aztec (2020) / Surrender Your Poppy Field (2020) / Sweating The Plague (2019) / Warp And Woof (2019) / Zeppelin Over China (2019) / Space Gun (2018) / Ogre’s Trumpet (2018) / How Do You Spell Heaven (2017) / August By Cake (2017) / Please Be Honest (2016) / Suitcase 4 (2015) / Cool Planet (2014) / Motivational Jumpsuit (2014) / English Little League (2013) / Down By The Racetrack EP (2013) / The Bears For Lunch (2012) / Class Clown Spots A UFO (2012) / Let’s Go Eat The Factory (2012)

Laughs Best (The Kids Eat It Up): Best Of Circus Devils (2017) / Laughs Last (2017) / Stomping Grounds (2015) / Escape (2014) / My Mind Has Seen The White Trick (2013) / When Machines Attack (2013)

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Thomas Wilde

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