Australian Indie-Popsters the Griswolds Combine the Best of Nirvana and Walk the Moon
Tropical indie-pop outfit the Griswolds takes its name from the fictional family in the Chevy Chase-starring National Lampoon's Vacation series. Just like its onscreen comedic counterparts, the band takes having fun very seriously.
The Griswolds formed four years ago after singer/guitarist Christopher Whitehall and lead guitarist Daniel Duque-Perez met at party — a sign of things to come. By their own admission, Whitehall and Duque-Perez were kindred spirits of the mischievous type, indulging in Animal House-style revelry. "Dan and I used to get banned from parties together because we'd fuck up people's stuff," Whitehall admitted of the early days. "One time, we set up our friend's drum kit entirely on his bed, then hung all his clothes over the drum kit. Never got another invite to his place."
They were later joined by bassist Tim John and keyboardist/percussionist Lachlan West. Before long, the Griswolds were a far more functional family than the one that killed Aunt Edna's dog.
Their introduction to the public came with 2012's "Heart of a Lion," a bouncy garage rock single that caught the attention of Australia's premier musical tastemakers, Triple J Radio. Things took off from there, with the Griswolds touring alongside the likes of Andrew McMahon, Passion Pit, and Walk the Moon.
In 2014 they struck gold with their catchy-as-hell track "Beware the Dog," a jaunty, celebratory lead from their debut LP, Be Impressive. And while they tend to emulate '90s alt-rock songs on that album, the quartet blissfully hopscotches through all the most popular tropes of 21st-century indie-pop to great effect.
The Griswolds are clearly fans of bands like Stone Temple Pilots (channeling hints of "Creep" on the jubilant "16 Years"), Nirvana (they drop a "Smells Like Teen Spirit" reference in "Thread the Needle"), and Faith No More (see their own "Be Impressive").
But while grunge normally takes rock down dark alleys, the Griswolds, like the aforementioned Walk the Moon and the equally colorful Bleachers, are more than happy to lead us by the hand into brighter parts of the city. From the Vampire Weekend-like, calypso-tinged sound of "Aurora Borealis" to the sultry "Live This Nightmare," which skulks under the shade of neo-soul, Be Impressive is a fine pop album that takes an exciting joy ride through musical styles filled with peaks and valleys of delightful song craftsmanship.
In an interview last year, fans on Twitter asked the Sydney-based four-piece what band they wanted to tour with next. The answer was Magic Man, and this past April, they got their wish as they embarked on a cross-country trek of North America with their electro-pop counterparts.
On May 26, the Griswolds bring their antics, their energy, and their inspired debut album to the Culture Room for a show that promises to at least be brighter and more electrifying than a doomed cat chewing on Christmas tree lights.
With Magic Man. 7:00 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $30 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.
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