ALBUM REVIEW: Grinderman – Grinderman 2

 

2938f621

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: GRINDERMAN announce North America tour…

Ahead of the mid September release of Grinderman 2 comes the announcement of a US tour from Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Jim Sclavunos and Martyn Casey… If you’ve checked out the bits of video over on grinderman.com then you know they aren’t releasing love ballads this time round…

Tour Dates

Toronto, ON Phoenix (November 11)

Montreal, QU Metropolis (12)

Boston, MA House Of Blues (13)

New York, NY Nokia Theatre (14)

Washington, DC 9:30 Club (16)

Atlanta, GA Variety Playhouse (18)

Nashville, TN Cannery Ballroom (19)

Memphis, TN Minglewood Hall (20)

Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre (22)

Minneapolis, MN First Avenue (23)

Vancouver, BC Commodore Ballroom (26)

Seattle, WA King Cat Theater (27)

San Francisco, CA Warfield (29)

Los Angeles, CA Music Box (30)

San Diego, CA House Of Blues (December 1)

Already announced are the following UK dates:

Nottingham Rock City (September 25)

Leeds University (27)

Glasgow Barrowlands (28)

Manchester Academy (29)

London HMV Hammersmith Apollo (October 1)

NEWS: ED KUEPPER joins the Bad Seeds…

lismore_ed_kuepper

Confirmation has come through the wire that Ed Kuepper has been announced as the replacement guitarist for the long serving Mick Harvey in The Bad Seeds.  Ed has had a long association with Nick Cave stretching back to the early days of his band The Saints and then Laughing Clowns, both of which reunited for shows at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festivals.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds are planning a world tour later this year and in the meantime they are set to re-release their first 4 albums – From Her To Eternity, The Firstborn Is Dead, Kicking Against The Pricks, Your Funeral… My Trial.

Laughing Clowns have announced a show at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival on the 26th April and a couple of nights  at The Basement in Sydney on the 2nd + 3rd May.

OPINION: FAVOURITE SONGS OF 2008

1.  The catchiest album of the year gave us the single She Doesn’t Belong To Me

2.  The ever elegant Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds produced the slo mo wordy swagger of More News From Nowhere

3. Bon Iver was the shooting star of 2008 and this was one of the most beautiful songs of the year… Skinny Love….

4. M38 delivered a convincing and ecstatic take on the best things the 80’s gave us.  Kim & Jessie was also one of the best music vids of 08…

5. Okkervil River delivered the great Stax sounding Starry Stairs and Sydney’s own Jack Ladder did the song justice when they asked him to cover it…

6. The Drones were Australia’s most invigorating band of the year with another killer record and the lead single The Minotaur

7. This year saw the resurrection of sorts of Beck with a good album and in particular the rolling drums and psych feel of Chemtrails. This mashup fan video works quite well too…

8. The man with the punk approach and the key to the cabinet of melodies was Jay Reatard and Always Wanting More and it’s fantastic video summed up his sound perfectly…

9. Silver Jews created the best lyrical album of the year with Dave Berman’s quirky observations which was displayed on Strange Victory, Strange Defeat

10. The Felice Brothers were a new milenium take on Dylan and The Band but they did it so well.  A fantastic record and a great single in Frankie’s Gun

REVIEW: Seasick Steve – I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left

ds album reviews

seasick steve

Steve Wold returns with his third record and the follow on from 2006’s Dog House Music which caught the ears of the discerning music community and led to appearances on TV shows, award shows and features in magazines.

The new record keeps things autobiographical, exemplified by the title track and opening cut which touches on his life as a hobo and traveller around the USA after leaving home at the age of 14.

Interestingly he incorporates additional instrumentation, primarily in the form of drums and backing vocals which add another level and texture to the grooves.  These touches, along with cleaner production, show a progression to the sounds he presented on the last record without sacrificing the rawness and simplicity that made Dog House Music such a refreshing success.

One of the most interesting tracks is Just Like a King which is a duet with Nick Cave and a bluesy (boozy?) Grinderman.  It comes on like a long lost delta blues slow groove with slide guitar wailing away before settling into a moaning shuffle.  Cave adds a darker, more desperate edge behind Steve’s earthier tones which works brilliantly.

Fly By Night conjures up a moonlit creaking porch lament about sticking around while Thunderbird lives up to it’s name with a charging finish, all clattering sticks and strings like the Black Keys in a bathtub.

Steve has built on his unique take on the blues with the raw swing and drones of his three string guitar and delivered a record that steps up from Dog House Music to be a contender for our music geek top 10 lists in 2008.

Check out this Black Cab Session of Steve performing Chiggers which ended up on the new record:

NEWS: All Tomorrow’s Parties Australia

UPDATE 7TH NOV:The next round of bands has been announced for the Mt Buller ATP, no word yet on whether we will get many of them at the Sydney shows, fingers crossed…  At this stage Dirty Three won’t be at Cockatoo Island.

DEAD MEADOW, DIRTY THREE (playing Ocean Songs), SMOG, THE HOLY SEA, SMALL KNIVES, PASSENGER OF SHIT, PSARANDONIS

Don’t forget tix are on sale on Monday !!!!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Wow, what a day.  First we get the first anouncement for the BDO and now ATP makes its debut appearance on in OZ. Check this out….

Curated by the Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, the lineup is:

Nick Cave + the Bad Seeds, The Saints, Spiritualized, The Necks, Harmonia, Fuck Buttons, Silver Apples, M Gira, James Blood Ulmer, Robert Forster, Afrirampo, Bridezilla, Laughing Clowns + more to be announced November 5th.

Thankfully we all don’t have to make the trip to Mt Buller in VIC as there will be events featuring the acts in Brisbane and in Sydney (part of the Sydney Festival 2009).

Tickets on sale NOW for Mt Buller and SYD/BNE will be on sale on November 10th from Ticketek.

Check the ATP website for more details.

If you haven’t heard of James Blood Ulmer… check the legend here: