I can remember hearing the Birthday Party for the first time in high school and, although I didn't quite get it until several years later, I could at least acknowledge that it was good, wild, exciting and everything else that is great about the proverbial rock 'n' roll spirit. Since my awkward teen years, they have gone on to become one of my all-time favorite groups. I can also remember hearing the Bad Seeds for the first time around the same time, and just thinking, "Seriously?"
I'm not trying to shoot off my Nick Cave credentials or anything, but, for the sake of putting this review in context, I just want to point out that I never really "got" the Bad Seeds and always thought the Birthday Party was far superior. By no means are the Bad Sees not good, they have just always kind of bored the shit out of me, with scattered exceptions in their catalogue.
Enter Grinderman, Nick Cave's subconscious answer to skeptics who feel he's lost his edge and early, wilder persona.
Grinderman is Nick Cave's new band featuring himself and three other Bad Seeds making a racket that couldn't sound more distant from the Bad Seeds lonely, detached, depressing bar music. A lot of reviews are regarding Cave's new monster as the second coming of the Birthday Party; I don't necessarily see the comparison musically, but I acknowledge that the same reckless abandon is there.
It's been reported that the Grinderman debut came about out of a series of improvisational sessions. And it shows, as the entire album has a refreshing looseness and urgency about it. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, the album jumps between dark, sleazy straight forward rock and slower, often psychedelic-tinged, hymn-like tunes (some of which sound like they could have originally been Bad Seeds songs).
This whole album is a scorcher, but admittedly, it is not everything I had initially hoped it would be. The album opens up with probably the two most exciting songs on the record (the primitive sounding "Get It On" and the refreshingly creepy "No Pussy Blues"), which were also the only two songs released prior to the full-length seeing the light of day. This is not to say that the rest of the album flops from there; "Depth Charge Ethel" and the frantic, organ heavy "Honey Bee (Let's Fly to Mars)" are more than able to keep up with the album's openers, and the weirder, slower tracks help tie the album together and give Grinderman some depth (particularly the dirty, psychedelic "Electric Alice," which is possibly the best cut on the album).
In retrospect, I partially take what I just wrote back (about this album not being what I'd hoped it to be), but not enough to delete it. Grinderman have definitely put out the best album of 2007 thus far and, for what it's worth, Nick Cave has proven at his age that he is leagues more brilliant and cooler than even Iggy Pop (judging by the new Stooges record, which I don't even want to waste time to review, but it would have been a -500/10).
Release date: April 10, 2007
Label: Anti-, Mute
Rating: 8.5 / 10
On the web: www.grinderman.com
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