It's great to hear a local rock band with a sense of groove unadulterated by indie dance rock, sludgy rap-metal or current ironic butt-rock. Westmoreland County's Grinning Mob is a beyond-unpretentious power trio which, at its best moments, sounds like the original metal ... Sabbath, Zeppelin, a dollop of Cream ... the funky metal. No surprise they're rumored to have a fanatical following in the backwoods bars of Western Pennsylvania.
On In Like a Lion, the group's second disc in seven years of existence, Grinning Mob innocently sprinkles huge riffs with formidable chops. Scotty Mina's drums and Brad Rhea's bass sound full and loose, while Ed Skero's Les Paul sounds like the fat kid who's surprisingly quick on his feet ... or, you know, J Mascis. Oddly enough, this slab of '70s hard rock was produced by The Pleasure Technicians' Jay Valentich, which is probably the only way I would have heard it.
Most of the eight songs are quite long ... two break eight minutes ... and for the most part, that's the only indication of jammy-ness. Though the disc lacks that grating "eclectic" mess most jam bands indulge, there are a couple stabs at cartoony funk that could have been surgically removed.
But on "Martha Quinn," Skero and Mina trade between the riff and some impressive drum solos in a way that would sound really cliché ... if it didn't sound so right ... while the wah pedal cranks up "Two Down" with an early Chili Peppers stomp. Skero's voice is pleasant and flexible, even on the closing ballad: "There's something in this cup of coffee / that tells me to switch to whisky / Cause I can't to afford to be up all night / thinking about what used to be."
Book this band for your frat party immediately, or just head for the hills ... scary as it sounds, they're alive with the sounds of Grinning Mob.