Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
Review of Grinderman’s Grinderman 2
Deirdre O’CallaghanThe lines between Grinderman and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds aren’t always very clear. Quantitatively, you’ve got a few less members (which must make for some awkward scenes at the rehearsal space – “oh, I thought it was a Bad Seeds day… I’ll show myself out…”) and Cave strapping on a guitar and avoiding the piano, and qualitatively, you’ve got an even rawer, darker sound than the Bad Seeds craft and they’re hardly all sunbeams and unicorns.
Their seedier-than-Seeds 2007 debut Grinderman was soaked in the blues and testosterone and was a welcome jolt of energy from a group of players whose works had become increasingly ornate, particularly relative to their more anarchic Birthday Party origins. And when the reawakening of their rocking, raunchier side carried over to the next Bad Seeds record, 2008’s scorching Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!, it would have been reasonable to think that Grinderman had served its purpose and run its course. But no, Cave’s not done with the six-string as a songwriting tool and so we get Grinderman 2, out today.
Though still noisy and guitar-driven, 2 dials down the front-to-back pelvic thrust of its predecessor in favour of a more fully-produced sound that feels less beholden to a rigid aesthetic. And while it’s hard to imagine a video as ridiculous (in a good way) as that for “Heathen Child” being released under the Bad Seeds marque, any one of these songs could easily pass as having come from that main project, particularly the glorious “Palaces Of Montezuma” which has to rank as one of Cave’s best pop compositions in years. I’m sure that in the heads of their creators, there’s a clear distinction between these songs and those, but from the listener’s point of view all that really matters is that there’s another set of intensely and inimitably Cave compositions to absorb. No matter what the band is called.
Spinner, The Australian, The Herald and The Courier-Mail have interviews with Cave and The Line Of Best Fit talks to drummer Jim Sclavunos while The Quietus and Montreal Gazette chat with them both. The New Yorker has a profile on both The Bad Seeds and Grinderman by Sasha Frere-Jones and Pile Of Vinyl has got demos fo the first album available to download. Their North American tour starts November 11 at the Phoenix in Toronto.
Grinderman 2 is available to stream this week at Spinner.
Last week I was bemoaning the fact that Superchunk were crossing the border next week for a show in Montreal but weren’t coming down the 401 to play their first Toronto show in some nine years. Turns out the reason why is they’ll be here on December 9 opening up for Broken Social Scene at the Sound Academy. Yay, Superchunk, boo Sound Academy. Tickets will be $30 and go on sale Friday. In other ‘Chunk news, they’ve taken the editorial reins at the Magnet website kicking off with a Q&A and there’s features on the band at The Daily Tarheel, Billboard, The Washington Post and Chicago Reader. Finally, Videogum has premiered the hilarious first video from Majesty Shredding, out today.
In other announcements, Johnny Flynn’s second record Been Listening has been given an October 25 release in North America and he’s doing some solo dates to support, including an October 18 date at Lee’s Palace. About. Time.
Bruce Peninsula must be about done their second record as they’ve scheduled an October 28 date at the Horseshoe. Tickets $10 in advance.
Oxford’s Stornoway, whose debut album Beachcomber’s Windowsill was enthused about in this space back in July, have put together their first North American tour and it includes a November 30 date at the El Mocambo. Former Hold Steady moustache Franz Nicolay supports. There’s a session with the band up at NPR’s World Cafe.
After a goodly number of supporting dates, Freelance Whales will be playing their own show at the El Mocambo on December 7, tickets $15. They’ve also just premiered a new video from their debut album Weathervanes.
The Radio Dept. getting political? This new song is apparently “directed at the swedish election coming this sunday”. Of course, the salient point here is new. Radio. Dept. Their “Never Follow Suit” EP is out November 9 and a double-disc of rarities – of which this track qualifies, I think – is out in January.