What do breezy pop-rock, impeccable harmonies, mournful strings, and the state of Virginia all have in common? If you said Dave Matthews Band, you’re partially right: Richmond’s Griff’s Room Band recorded their debut album Heartbreak/Desire at Haunted Hollow, Dave’s private Charlottesville studio. David Adley, Liam Anastasia-Murphy, Michael Cammarata, and Clayton Perry’s blend of brooding rock and uplifting jams sounds straight out of the now-legendary DMB playbook. Opening tracks “Wasted Time” and “Bad News” bear the big-tent hallmarks of producer Will Kennedy, of whom GRB said, “I don’t think any of us ever dreamed we’d be able to produce [a sound like this] when we started playing on a bench in Colonial Williamsburg five years ago.”
Thankfully, Heartbreak/Desire still captures those early Old Dominion influences. “Tie Me Down” hinges on a lovely fiddle breakdown, while “Don’t Fly Far” astutely blends uptempo indie rock and Americana. Elsewhere, “Stranger” is a striking ode to Griff’s Room Band’s love of soul masters like Sam Cooke, “Part Of Me” boasts the orchestral complexity of Vampire Weekend, “She Gone” is a bluesy barnburner, and “Honey” could serve as the finger-snapping doo-wop climax of your favorite modern Christmas movie. In other words, GRB strikes a pitch-perfect balance between mainstream ascendance and joyous street-corner busking. Look for these guys to rocket to serious success in 2017.