Nov 9, 2018

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  • #18 Uproxx (20 Must-Hear Rock Albums From 2018)
  • #98 Noisey (The 100 Best Albums of 2018)

Concocting a freshly strange blend of synth pop and damaged folk music, Grapetooth is a band from Chicago that consists of Chris Bailoni and Clay Frankel.

The two don’t remember clearly how they met, but Frankel, home from tour with garage rock outfit Twin Peaks, began dropping in at Bailoni’s residence in the winter of 2015. The two began writing spontaneous songs in Bailoni's synth-laden bedroom studio, which had long stood as the base of operations for his own wonderfully weird solo and producer work as Home-Sick.

By 2016 the two friends were sharing an apartment, along with a growing fondness for red wine, bad weather, and the music of Yukihiro Takahashi. Though still without a name or any intention to release their music, as roommates the two collaborated more and more often, at all hours of the day and night. Soon they had quite a score, and agreed to play a show opening for their close friend Knox Fortune for his upcoming album release show.

They chose the name Grapetooth, an affectionate slang term for a wino, and decided to make a video in support of the upcoming show for their song “Trouble”, one of the earliest songs the two had written together. Like the song itself, which had been written and recorded in the course of one night inside Bailoni’s bedroom, the video was similarly unplanned and on the cheap, and they posted it online without further ado.

The reception was encouraging, and the pair went back to the bedroom and focused on completing their album.

The album captured a feeling the duo happily felt was somewhere between the doomy disco of 80’s new wave and the woozy laments of artists like Arthur Russell and Jeff Cowell. It contains songs about death and love and the movie Badlands and more than a few songs about wine.


  • 1
    Violent (3:36)
  • 2
    Red Wine (3:59)
  • 3
    Trouble (3:12)
  • 4
    Mile After Mile (3:48)
  • 5
    Death (4:34)
  • 6
    Imagine On (3:53)
  • 7
    Hangover Sq. (3:57)
  • 8
    Hallelujah (4:18)
  • 9
    Blood (4:17)
  • 10
    Together (3:44)


“A supremely gorgeous collection of ten different tracks that embody the soul of your favorite ‘80s synth-wave bands with the open-hearted punk rock angst of the Replacements.”


"A contender for one of the best Chicago releases of the year. Party anthems sit alongside doomy synth ballads about death."

"Featuring Twin Peaks’ Clay Frankel and Home-Sick’s Chris Bailoni, this brand new duo makes trippy, polychromatic new wave and psych-pop for the new millennium."

"Grapetooth’s music is the perfect soundtrack for splitting a jug of Carlo Rossi, dancing til 5AM, and waking up on your friend’s couch clutching a half-eaten burrito and cursing whichever deity invented sunlight."


"If their aim was to respectfully recreate the soundtrack to a John Hughes movie, consider that goal met, as well. No matter their decade of influence, Grapetooth’s first album will have you dancing into the night with a glass (or bottle) of Two Buck Chuck in hand."


"Their sound is hard to pin down because of it’s eclectic and evolving nature, but think of a happy medium between The Replacements and the War On Drugs. Layers of gorgeous synths married with a sneering, DIY punk rock sensibility and expressive pontifications on death and love."


"Grapetooth have stacked their album with urgent, grubby synth-based pop songs meant to burn up dance floors."

Chicago Reader

"As Grapetooth, the two merge shimmering, melodic, '80s new wave influences with Frankel's impulsive garage punk instincts. Full of contradictions, it's a catchy combination that, in their hands, comes off like a charm."

All Music

"Some tracks feel like Tears For Fears-indebted rave-ups while others boast slide guitar and country twang. It’s a jarring mesh but the two pull it off."


"If your music taste never left the ‘70s and ‘80s, or was transported back to those years, the sound Grapetooth have been channeling will be a welcome guiding pull into the present."


"The debut album from this Chicago duo comprised of Chris Bailoni and Twin Peaks guitarist Clay Frankel is an impressive set of New Waveish synth-pop inflected at times with anthemic folk-pop, combining bright analog synths, propulsive drum-machine beats and sparkling pop melodies."


"Be it synthesizers from back alleys, lubricated commitments, or black-comedy transcriptions, Grapetooth’s existence can attest that finding greatness has little to do with deliberately looking for it.”

FLOOD Magazine
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  • Violent (3:36)
    Jackson James & Chris Bailoni
  • Red Wine (4:05)
    Jackson James, Clay Frankel, and Chris Bailoni
  • Trouble (3:11)
  • Blood (3:13)
    Jackson James, Chris Bailoni and Clay Frankel

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