ALBUM REVIEW: Grinderman | Grinderman 2 RMX

by Chris Familton

Nick Cave and co aren’t known for sending out their songs for remixes but in light of the band’s recent dissolution this is perhaps a loosening of the reins, an opening of arms to collaboration and reinterpretation of songs from their 2010 swansong LP Grinderman 2.

The first thing that catches the eye is the list of other artists that have contributed to the album. It is clear that Cave didn’t want to take the traditional route of electronic artists dissecting a song and creating a dancefloor-friendly or over intellectualised IDM version. Instead he has called on friends and contemporaries to add their flavour and sheen to Grinderman’s music. There are obvious compadres like Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Nick Zinner, ex-Bad Seed Barry Adamson and Andrew Weatherall but also some surprising guests in the form of Matt Berninger from The National and QOTSA’s Joshua Homme.

Some of the mixes are a comfortable fit with the ethos and approach of Grinderman. A Place to Bury Strangers hit the krautrock acid freak button and take Worm Tamer into a disorientating rush of guitars and pummeling drums, like Suicide hot wiring the space shuttle. Cat’s Eyes (feat. Faris Badwan of The Horrors) with Luke Tristram (ex-Flats) totally reshape When My Baby’s Comes into a slow moving drone haze that, when the drums and guitar destroy the funereal mood mid song it becomes an Earth-like doom metal dirge that sounds fantastic at high volume and is one of the highlights of the album through its sonic departure from the original.

Another highpoint is Barry Adamson’s treatment of Palaces of Montezuma which does well to highlight the vocals of both Cave and Warren Ellis. The song possesses such a great melodic hook and Adamson has chosen wisely to spotlight their voices. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the album is Matt Berninger’s take on Evil (listen below). He has concocted a Tricky/Massive Attack style of gloomy, slowed and stretched trip hop with his trademark weary vocals dropping in and out of the mix like a serenading afterthought. Like the Cat’s Eyes cover its success lies in its ability to take the song to an entirely different place.

The closest thing to a ‘dance’ remix is Andrew Weatherall’s electronic dub mix of Heathen Child which sounds like something from the On-U Sound stable. You can see what Weatherall’s intentions were but he would have been better served to go heavier on the dub elements of the song and really reduce it to its bare elements and twist and stretch them out in the echo chamber. Another take on the same song is Super Heathen Child with Cave securing the guitar services of King Crimson’s Robert Fripp who adds some stellar metallic soloing to the end of the song.

Grinderman conclude their RMX album with their own version of Evil (First Evil), the original demo version of the song to remind the listener that they too can twist their music into strange and uncomfortable positions. A remix album of a different sort then, more of a  case of reinterpretations of which many prove just as rewarding as the originals. This in no way surpasses either of Grinderman’s albums but as a farewell companion piece it makes for fascinating listening.

 this review was first published on FasterLouder

NEWS: Meredith Music Festival line-up announced…

It is the 21st anniversary of the festival and this year on 9-11th December it’ll feature Grinderman playing during a lunar eclipse – what the?

GRINDERMAN  *  CUT/COPY  *  KURT VILE & THE VIOLATORS  *  MUDHONEY  *  ICEHOUSE  *  GANG GANG DANCE  *  EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY  *  LADYHAWKE  *  BLACK JOE LEWIS & THE HONEYBEARS  *  OFF!  *  ADALITA  *  FUTURE OF THE LEFT  *  FRANK FAIRFIELD  *  HARMONIC 313 (DJ SET)  *  JOELISTICS  *  BIG FREEDIA  *  UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA  *  GRAVEYARD TRAIN  *  TIM SWEENEY  *  OSCAR + MARTIN  *  CASH SAVAGE & THE LAST DRINKS  *  ANGUS SAMPSON  *  BARBARION  *  KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD  *  JUICEBOXXX  *  VIRGO FOUR  *  EAGLE & THE WORM  *  THE RECHORDS  *  DAVE GRANEY & THE LURID YELLOW MIST  *  MATT SONIC & THE HIGH TIMES  *  THE TOWN BIKES  *  CITY OF BALLARAT MUNICIPAL BRASS BAND  *  MASTER SONG TAI CHI  *  SILENCE WEDGE  *  A TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE  *  Very Special Guest MC DENNIS COMETTI

NEWS: Lineup announced for Homebake 2011…

Homebake comes around again after taking a gap year. This December Sydneysiders can look forward to seeing…

Grinderman
Ladyhawke
Pnau
Gotye
Gurrumul Yunupingu
Cut Copy
RocKwiz (live)
Icehouse (playing Flowers )
Daniel Merriweather
Eskimo Joe
Drapht
The Triffids
Architecture in Helsinki
The Vines
The Church
The Jezabels
Kimbra
C.W. Stoneking
Hungary Kids of Hungary
Illy
Avalanche City
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Papa Vs Pretty
Killaqueenz
Kids of 88
Passenger
Noah Taylor and The Sloppy Boys (Ed Clayton-Jones from The Wreckery and Cec Condon from The Mess Hall)
Vents

Homebake 2011 takes place on Saturday 3rd December  as always at The Domain, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

TICKETS go on sale Monday 15th August.

LIVE REVIEW: Grinderman @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney 28/01/11

written by Chris Familton

When Nick Cave took a couple of his Bad Seeds and gave birth to Grinderman a few years ago there were suspicions that the side project would be a fleeting affair, a stroppy regression to Birthday Party-esque guttural blues and lascivious shock value. That was the sense the album, videos and artwork gave and though Cave stressed it was a project that he held in the highest regard, he couldn’t shake the notion of a brief diversion.

With album #2 proving that Messrs. Cave, Ellis, Sclavunos and Casey had both refined and expanded the Grinderman blueprint, their Australian tour, in conjunction with the Big Day Out, sold out in quick time showing that the fans were more than ready to follow the band’s vision.

In support at the Enmore was a solo Ed Kuepper – also a recent touring member of The Bad Seeds – who played an impressive set of epic guitar pieces with vocals thrown in here and there. In the venue’s open spaces his guitar sounded gargantuan and at times reminiscent of Neil Young’s widescreen sound with Crazy Horse. Not content to just create mood Kuepper also showed he has a fine handle on vocal melody with his dusty voice.

Moments before Grinderman swaggered on-stage the curtain behind the instruments dropped to reveal the true backdrop – a glittering silver-draped wall and lighting racks. Ellis, Casey and Sclavunos took their places first and eased into the opening chords of ‘Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man’ before the unmissable stick figure of Cave strode out with bristling intent. By the end of that first song you knew this gig was going to be special, Cave had ripped his jacket from his back, clambered onto the heads of the first row and let rip guttural screams between the unsettling chants of “he sucked her and he sucked her and he sucked her dry”. The tension they built in the verses was palpable and when they hit the chorus it was like a Krautrock glam-boogie explosion.

From there on they veered between tracks from both albums. ‘Worm Tamer’’s chorus of “for too long” was the first glimpse of the vocal role that Ellis would play alongside his myriad of other string and percussion instruments. He was the mad gypsy hatter to Cave’s hell-bound preacher and his comical high kicks and freak-out thrashing on the floor was the perfect foil to his frontman’s stage command. During ‘Evil’ he was seated facing across the stage, arms held high, screaming into the mic like he was undergoing some kind of self-exorcism.

Just as the adrenalin was in full flow mode and you thought they’d bring it down they hit the crowd with the gonzo rock of ‘Get It On’ and the pelvic thrust of ‘Heathen Child’, two songs that have different elements of sleaze at work. Of course they couldn’t sustain the intensity and showed they could work dark mood and crawling intent to the same effect. ‘When My Baby Comes’ was all swirling psych yearning while ‘Bellringer Blues’ with its almost classic rock chorus, chugged along at a perfect mid-pace later in the set.

The highlight of the show was an extended ‘Kitchenette’ with Cave at his most comical and at the same time unhinged. He took the slow grind of the album version and exploded the characters into manic technicolor by serenading sweetly into the up-close faces of the front row before unleashing banshee screams down their throats. His “tippy toe, tippy toe” line was woven and interjected throughout the song and his accompanying dance was downright hilarious. ‘Kitchenette’ summed up Cave’s twin sides of sick preacher and sombre balladeer and it was a revelation of a performance.

Returning for an encore that included the infectious ‘Palaces Of Montezuma’, the Bad Seeds-sounding ‘Man In The Moon’ and the MC5 via Television rama-lama of ‘Love Bomb’, the band concluded with their theme tune of sorts – ‘Grinderman’. The song, with its funereal voodoo drone and haunting mood, was a perfect way to bring the last 90 minutes back to earth. In terms of live performances it’ll be impressive if anyone this year can beat the conviction and intensity that Grinderman brought to the stage. They were all that live music should be – visceral, emotional and transportive.

Chris Familton

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Grinderman – Grinderman 2

 

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Many treated the first Grinderman LP as a dalliance, a middle-aged testosterone-fuelled anomaly that Nick Cave and cohorts had to get out of their system between Bad Seeds albums. In the intervening years both Cave and Warren Ellis have continued to strenuously assert that it is an ongoing project that runs parallel to their day job rather than being treated as a lesser child.

By naming the album Grinderman 2 they are again pushing the sense of continuity of the band and instead of the sequel being a watered down version of the first record, like many films tend to be, it is instead an evolution – deeper, darker, funnier and more disturbing than it’s predecessor.

From the opener ‘Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man’ it is clear that the quartet are again intent on embracing depravity with fantastical scenes of cannibalism, bat-faced girls and lupine children. Ellis is Cave’s permanent sidekick now and here he wrings out gleeful pig-like squeals, screams and  angry flashes of demonic sonic squalls like a post-punk take on Angus Young’s accents on ‘Jailbreak’. It is an assertive scene-setter for an album that builds and mutates from that point on.

Cave seems particularly taken with mythical creatures and their real and imagined manifestation in all of us. He sings of snake charmers, the Loch Ness Monster, abominable snowmen and spider goddesses. Not content to deal only in fantasy figures he also takes aim at established religious figureheads like Allah, Buddha and Krishna on ‘Heathen Child’ – a tale of coming of age and the formation of one’s beliefs.

‘When My Baby Comes’ is perhaps the highpoint of the album. A looped collage of disconcerting yet strangely warming sounds providing a bed for Cave to sing intimate and gentle insinuations of rape and violence. There aren’t many who can weave abhorrent human behaviour into hypnotically seductive music so effectively.

The bawdy sleaze of Cave’s novel The Death of Bunny Munro makes an appearance on ‘Kitchenette’, an excuse for Cave to indulge in his married housewife-baiting fantasies, replete with Cave-isms like “Oprah Winfrey on a plasma screen” and the subject’s “brood of jug-eared buck-toothed imbeciles.” Built on a slow groove it is yet another song that cleverly balances the elements of perv and poise.

For those looking for something akin to The Bad Seeds then the love song ‘Palaces of Montezuma’ is the one. An attempt to qualify the value of love, it swings sweetly like the shuffling pop moments on ‘Lyre of Orpheus’ and is in many ways a welcome reprieve from the sordid yet satisfying dissonance across most of the record. Though it feels slightly out of place, it does serve to illustrate that at the heart of Cave’s writing is the mystery of love – as tragedy, addiction and  redemption.

The collaborative writing process of all four Grindermen and the mantra that ‘anything and everything goes’ is what separates the band from their other work. With album number two they have both expanded and refined the way they construct their music and once more Cave has shown that he is still stalking and hunting his muse with malevolent intent. 

Chris Familton

NEWS: Big Day Out 2011 first announcement…

It seems like there has been even more debate, speculation and rumours than ever regarding the 2011 Big Day Out. Like a rock n roll circus heaving across the country it shows no sign of slowing down, even in the wake of a less than exciting roster this year.

2011 will see another new batch of kids experiencing a rite of passage with…

  • Tool
  • Iggy & The Stooges
  • Primal Scream (performing Screamadelica)
  • LCD Soundsystem
  • M.I.A
  • Grinderman
  • The Black Keys
  • Deftones
  • Die Antwoord
  • Andrew W.K
  • Ratatat
  • Booka Shade
  • Lupe Fiasco
  • CSS
  • The Jim Jones Review
  • Vitalic
  • Plan B
  • Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
  • Bloody Beetroots
  • The Naked and Famous
  • Kids of 88
  • Crystal Castles (East Coast only)
  • Birds of Tokyo
  • Children Collide
  • John Butler Trio
  • Angus and Julia Stone
  • Bliss n Eso
  • Dead Letter Circus
  • Blue King Brown
  • Gypsy and the Cat
  • Little Red
  • Pnau
  • Rammstein

– Sun Jan 23: Gold Coast – Parklands
– Wed Jan 26: Sydney – Showground
– Sun Jan 30: Melbourne – Flemington Racecourse
– Fri Feb 4: Adelaide – Showground
– Sun Feb 6: Perth – Claremont Showground
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