On the Gristle Gals' debut, 2010's On the Lam, the gypsy-folk-tinged songs were mostly percussion-less, fueled primarily by a trio playing acoustic instruments. In contrast, one of the most notable things about the act's sophomore release, Sweet Pea, is that the outfit is now calling itself a band. On opener "Bhindi Groove," a Middle Eastern-flavored cut, you can tell that the gals were going for a fuller sound with the addition of drummer Nicholas Schmidt, who also helps propel tunes like the buoyant "Cigarettes," a traditional Hungarian folk tune, and Dan Hicks's "Jukies' Ball," with its 1920s swing. While the Gals (singer and guitarist Gretchen Kunz, fiddle player and singer Mandi Malone and bassist Kalin Capra) don't stray too far stylistically from what they did on On the Lam, Sweet Pea feels like a much more expansive and compelling effort.
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