jason stives reviews New Jersey funk soul brothers Root Glen’s summer ep …
New Jersey funk band Root Glen have been making murmurs around the East Coast thanks in part to their fusion of funk, soul, and rock music that provides the perfect catalyst to dance, sway, or whatever you are feeling during the happiest moments that a live show can provide. With the release of their first EP, aptly titled The Summer EP, the band shows to a larger audience how satisfying their tunes can be regardless of the time of year.
While the group has stated their influences range from the punk scene to acts like Queen and David Bowie, Root Glen’s mission statement is that of a jam band in the vein of acts like Dispatch and O.A.R. The guitar playing of both lead singer Ross Griswold and guitarist David Moroney is a sonic trance, combining the jangly jam style of the above mentioned acts with a slicker rock ‘n’ roll sound. Griswold’s singing is akin to that of O.A.R. frontman Marc Roberge, except while Roberge’s voice captures the veracity of the party, Griswold’s captures the moment of the downtime during and after a long celebration.
That doesn’t mean the music is any less of a party. In fact, the songs are exactly that feel-good groove tune vibe you would play in the backyard of the best of summer picnics. Beyond the feel good atmosphere, the hidden meaning in these songs seems to be of going wherever the road takes you despite any opposition. A track like “Fortune Cookie” gives a tongue-in-cheek account of going wherever the message is, as well as enjoying the open road and the towns and scenes that pass by. Elsewhere is the sentimental nature of “In Some Time,” a track detailing the need to be on your own in life but understanding the importance of the friends you left behind along the way.
Although most of the tracks enforce the feel of summer and the carefree nature of life on a journey, the real standout is the EP’s final track, “Dieting Bear,” the tale of a bear’s attempt to lose weight. Immediately my thoughts ran to a more amusing take on a folk song like “Puff The Magic Dragon,” but with a less deliberate attempt to be for children since ultimately the bear develops his pension for eating meat again. It complements the jokey atmosphere that the band is known for bestowing upon their cooperative audience.
This first of four seasonal EPs already indicates a continuous supply of feel-good vibes that Root Glen plans on creating as the seasons change from the hot summer to the cool frost of the fall. But regardless of what season it is, the boys in Root Glen are more than welcomed into waiting CD players and iPods all year long.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10