Grim Fandango - In The Rough (Cover Artwork)

Grim Fandango

In The Rough (2012)

Poison City Records

Grim Fandango serve up another helping of their own version of alt-pop-core (is that even a genre?) with their new seven-inch EP In The Rough. With two songs on the EP plus a free download code for those and three more, the record is a good value for only $9.50.

The A-side, "Modern Aliens," is a great example of how Grim push the envelope with catchy pop sounds laced with Tom Ware's trademark vocals. There is, as always, some intricate guitar work and some nice singalong parts for good measure. Sounding different from their 2011 full-length Birthmark Blues, their effortless maturity and progression is evident but not forced.

On the B-side Grim has given a song much more reminiscent of the Birthmark Blues record with that full sound and layers of vocals and majestic guitar work that makes you feel like you're in the room with them. "Clear Lines" is also incredible live and will quickly become a crowd favorite at the band's intense live shows.

The other three songs--"Switch", "I'd Be Corin" and "In The Rough"--round out the EP nicely with more progression in the song structure and writing as further evidence of the band's ability to expand boundaries to keep things fresh and exciting without alienating old fans and all the while recruiting more to the cause.

"Switch" is dominated by Ware's prodigious vocals over subtle guitar work at the start of the song before it speeds up and is filled out. The song certainly "burns like a candle" in the dark of most music being released these days. Burgs pops up again on "I'd Be Corin" and his unique sound (if you can actually call it that) is a fresh change from most vocals going around. It brings the song together well and makes for a fun intermezzo from Tom's more intense vocal sound. "In The Rough" is a little more epic and almost branches at times into an alt-country sound only to be railed back in so as to not scare any of the older fans too much.

Grim Fandango is glowing as a band both on record and live; In the Rough is just another example of that. The band is constantly maturing their sound and moving more and more into a group that can't be pigeonholed into one genre or another. For fans of Archers of Loaf and Sebadoh.