The G-Man,
Grin Groove
(Immedia, 2002)

Sometimes the reviews I write flow easily. On occasion, I have trouble figuring out what to say. Such is the case with Grin Groove by the G-Man. Here is a CD that, if I break if up into its component parts -- vocals, lyrics and music -- I like well enough. Put it all together and I don't think it works. In fact, I find the CD downright annoying!

I promise I'll describe the positives as well as the negatives. But first let me talk about the G-Man, Scott G., a former music critic who, according to the promotional blurb, was apparently so inspired by all the music that he reviewed that he had to create his own. He claims to have invented a new style of music he calls "grin groove."

In his own words, "Grin Groove music begins with beats, adds a melody, and then makes you smile with satirical, sly, spoken-word sections. It's not poetry or rap or comedy -- these are songs with a dose of commentary that's politically aware, socially savvy, and often quite sardonic." While the G-Man might have thought of this all on his own, I've heard similar spoken-word commentary of a social and political nature by such bands as Recoil, Ministry, NIN, Consolidated and Rumi. I do not think Grin Groove is all that original.

The G-Man has a smooth speaking voice. He sounds like a radio announcer or a person who does voice-overs for commercials. His singing voice is nice, too. On the few occasions that he actually sings sans an overpowering beat (the beginning of "Object of Desire" is the best example) you will notice that he has a voice that you would expect to hear on stage -- perhaps even a Broadway stage. He sounds like he sings in musicals (or could if he wanted to).

The lyrics in many of the songs are fairly witty. In "Touch When You Dance," for example, he sings about getting closer when you dance, while at the same time, he delivers a sermon first presented more than 150 years ago about the "evils" of dancing. It is pretty amusing. Religion and sex seem to be common topics through out the CD. Looking at the annoying side of the G-Man's lyrics, on most songs, he takes a phrase, like "Pump the Noise" or "Slide/Slam/Go" and repeats it to death.

The music itself is at time ethereal, at times ambient or almost new agey. On several tracks, he goes into dance or industrial mode while at others you will be vaguely reminded of the synthesizers popular in the '80s. I was very surprised to find out that no keyboards were played on this CD! The G-Man uses guitar, guitar synth and percussion.

If Grin Groove were an instrumental CD, I would more than likely recommend it. As it is, unfortunately, I cannot. I think the G-Man has talent -- maybe you will disagree with me and think the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 29 March 2003

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