It'd be easy to dismiss the Athens, Ga., band Nana Grizol as yet another twee college rock group from a town that churns out cutesy artists with yawn-inducing regularity. Look no further than the cartoon animals that adorn the cover of the band's debut album, Love It Love It, or the accompanying song names, like "Tiny Rainbows" and "Tambourine-n-Thyme." But from the opening bars of the first track, "Circles 'Round the Moon," with its frolicking guitars and sing-along melody, it's clear that Nana Grizol has an earnest and irresistible charm.
The Athens music scene has always been incestuous, with a steady stream of musicians who record and perform in one another's bands. Nana Grizol frontman Theo Hilton uses this to his advantage, recruiting a pool of gifted artists from bands such as Elf Power, Neutral Milk Hotel and Hot New Mexicans. The result is a bubbly collection of punk-pop songs with brassy horns and winds, hooky guitars and joyful vocals, dispensed with delirious abandon.
Love It Love It manages to sustain its infectious energy over the course of 11 tracks, as well as wistful observations on heartache, transient friendships, and the need to bring a little bit more love into the world. It may be a bit too precious for some listeners, but it's uplifting and inspired overall.
"We're trying to have a good time making something together, I guess," Hilton says. "And focusing on our relationships with each other and with the world and loving it."
In addition to frontman Theo Hilton, Nana Grizol features Laura Carter (Elf Power, Neutral Milk Hotel), Robbie Cucchiaro (Music Tapes, Neutral Milk Hotel), Jared Gandy (Witches), drummer Matte Cathcart and Kate Mitchell, Ian Rickert, Patrick Jennings and Michael Schneweis (Michael Jordan's Touchdown Pass). Solo artist Madeline Adams also appears on Love It Love It.