Grinderman CD review [Anti]
Apr 5, 2007, 19:38
This is The Birthday Party's Mutiny EP revisited, only instead of aural ice picks as the cudgel of choice, Grinderman use a gun which is a bit less messy. It's been 24 years since the swampy hate of Mutiny blessed us and the waiting has been a bitch. Not that this will fully suffice—Grinderman is much more civilized, sadly. But it comes with a molten result, a batch of blues-based rockist aggro that generally arrives at the same conclusion—it's a Bad Old World.
The quality of Cave's output has been spotty over the past six years, starting with No More Shall We Part and running through the recent live set based on Orpheus. There have been strong moments—parts of Nocturama (“Babe I'm on Fire” “Rock of Gibraltar”), a song or two or three off Abattoir Blues / Lyre of Orpheus (“Get Ready for Love,” “Easy Money”) and some much-needed retread that came in the form of the God Is In The House DVD. But it hasn't all come together in one release for some time, at least since The Boatman's Call.
Grinderman comes back to the base, though, when Cave and chosen Bad Seed cohorts (in this case, violinist Warren Ellis, bassist Martyn Casey, and drummer Jim Sclavunos) have come together to create the noise of men who are ageing with grace. Cave straps on a guitar for this and the effect is like it's 1980 and the kid hasn't played one before but knows a coupla chords and has a cool distortion box that he got at the pawn shop. It's a brilliant idea and the songs, while not the ambitious heart-wrenchers and gut stompers that the Bad Seeds are capable of, are basic noisemakers, like the staccato frump of “Depth Charge Ethel,” which opens with a 2-second burst of guitar feedback before settling into a bass-heavy thud.
The effect of songs like the title cut and the much-discussed “No Pussy Blues” is one of revival. If Cave and friends were not pushing 50, these tunes would be hailed as great bursts of a new sound, ambling experimentation and sonic exercises that we haven't seen since Flipper. Instead, Grinderman portrays the sound of cool dudes doing what bands like Bloc Party wish they could do. That is, truly engage in some subversive antipop. [Anti]