Talk about guitar to anyone involved in the local music scene, and one name will constantly come up. Todd Grubbs can play with the best of them.
With the release of his second recording Combination, Grubbs, 28, displays the type of talent of a Joe Satriani or Eddie Van Halen. The 11-track compact disc is truly a pleasurable trip down a winding musical trail. You don't know what to expect next.
Grubbs attempts, with great success, to use a variety of guitar sounds on this all-instrumental disc. He also strives to make the tracks as natural sounding as possible by not using many processors and effects. Added with a strong accompaniment of Shawn Malone on bass and Chapman Stick, Mark Prator on drums and percussion, and Paul Prator on keyboards, Combination is a guitar lover's dream.
This menagerie of guitar sounds begins with the swirling, hard-edged opening track Size 5 Lightning Boots. Next, when you hear the inter-meshing guitar and keyboard work of Travels with Charlie, you know why Grubbs' music design has been compared to Satriani's.
Don't think the disc is just a compilation of fast electric guitar work. On the track Shelly, Grubbs keeps a subtle guitar wail in the song but does so with a reggae beat. He also uses a wah-wah peddle on a portion of the track. The title-track Combination presents a mellow funk aspect.
On French Toast, Grubbs and his mates play off each other well. Keyboards, bass and especially drums on this tune intermingle smoothly for the fastest song on the CD. Grubbs does especially nice work with the slow-paced song, Breathe Easy. Images of Mark Knopfler come to mind with the song's haunting keyboard and sullen guitar intro reminiscent of Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms.
The most enjoyable song on the disc by far is The Adventures of Uncle Frebis and the Amazing Chihuahua Boy. Grubbs wrote this as a theme song to a cartoon series he's dabbling in. With its sounds of Frebis walking through the swamp and Grubbs' intro lick mimicking a cartoon special effect, the track fits perfectly with animation.
If you're into strict guitar work or even if you're not, Combination is very likable. Morrisound Studios, as usual, did a nice job of bringing out all the details of the disc.
_ MIKE TAPP
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