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Born out of the increasingly weird music scene of Brattleboro, Vermont comes the psychedelic pop group formerly known as Great Valley, now reshaped into Grape Room. Grape Room’s recent release, accurately titled Cartoon Land, is a hysteric blend of the playful and silly nature present in the soundtracks of oddball cartoons such as Earthworm Jim, Rocko’s Modern Life, and Animaniacs, and the ability psychedelic pop has to convey meaningful expressions in experimental ways. When listening to Cartoon Land, one feels as if they are experiencing a bad nostalgia trip in the best way possible.
This is caused mostly by Grape Room’s success at capturing a sound that borders between insanity and conventionalism. In the opening track, the infectious and charming “Yogurt Maid,” we are treated to lyrics both expressing idiosyncratic visions and genuine feelings. “My Feeling Came Back” sounds like a Yo Gabba Gabba background track, but contains gripping lyrics such as “How do you know when it’s real? Just feel.” Scattered throughout the album are short instrumental transition pieces that again depict a cartoon landscape, and these tracks are contrasted with more direct pop tunes, such as the somber, and more serious, “Just Not the 1.” It’s these more serious tracks that allow Cartoon Land’s experimental aspects to exist without distancing listeners, and this is most apparent on the albums explosive closing track “Night Never Came Today,” a song which transcends the cartoon vibe in favor of a straightforward piece of psych-pop. In these moments, it is clear that even without all of the bells and whistles, Grape Room is more than capable of delivering a fine piece of music.