I am admittedly a little obsessed with two-piece bands. I find small ensembles to be more agile, with fewer obstacles to their creativity. LáGoon, a duo from Portland, used this freedom to create a fuzz album with some serious style. Grim Ripper is unmistakably made by and for West coast skater punks, and it has that “bad boy” attitude, complete with fun aesthetics like vivid 80s retro graphics featuring skeletons.
The introductory soundbites (I was able to place samples from The Devil’s Advocate and Up in Smoke), bong rip, and overheard studio talk (“Smoke ‘Em (If You Got ‘Em)”) give the album a devil-may-care attitude and the idea that Anthony Gaglia (guitar and vocals) and Brady Maurer (drums) don’t take themselves too seriously. The casual, do-it-yourself feel is in fact authentic: Grim Ripper was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Gaglia himself.
The album is comprised of heavy, punk-influenced fuzz (see: “Skate Fast, Play Loud”) and deep doom grooves (check out: “Heavy Hitter” and “The Devil’s Grip”). I wouldn’t be surprised to find these two experimenting with riffs while an 80s B-movie plays in the background of a smoke-filled room. After all, you can’t skateboard all the time. For the best listening experience, you should really take Grim Ripper to a skatepark and crank it as loud as you can without getting the 5-0 called on you, but blaring it through your car stereo on a warm night with the windows down would also be acceptable.