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Archive for the ‘Grinderman’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS-“You Man? Human???” (2012).

2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

Nick Cave’s most recent music has been quiet pretty and tender.  It’s easy to forget that he has often been a wild man of Australian punk.  His Grinderman albums emphasized that noisy history of his and this song seems perfect for Cave.

In fact, this track seems like a song he could have released with the Birthday Party forty years ago. It’s abrasive and kind of rambling–although with more modern production and sounds. It also has a slow pummeling bass notes with lots of chaotic drumming.

Unlike most of the songs on the record which have falsetto vocals, Cave’s deep voice really stands out.  He is reciting a fairly crazy story of pools and chlorine and how you can touch him if you want.

Quintessential Cave mixed with a few Lips.

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #7

Katchoo was falling off a cliff.  In the wide shot we see there is water down below (and a small boat).

She lands in the water and rockets down pretty far (some creepy eels greet her before she takes off back up to the surface).

The man on the boat tries to fend her off with a long pike, but he’s no match for Katchoo who avoids the gun shots until the boat takes off.

Back home, we see Francine and her (cool) Aunt Libby in some relative domestic happiness–Katchoo hasn’t warned her about he gunman yet.

Koo resists taking out the garbage. Francine asks, “when do you want to do it”  “Later when I grow up.”

When she puts the trash in the bin, she smells…something.  Which we see is a pile of cigarette butts and a shoe.  But she is called in before she sees what it is.

Katchoo goes to a small hotel.  There’s a man sleeping in the tub.  I’m unclear what that is meant to signify, but Katchoo leaves before he wakes up.

The book ends back home with Koo unable to sleep (she is reading I Hate Fairyland, by Skottie Young).  She heads downstairs (at 3AM) and sees a male shadow looking in their glass windows. Yipes!

Don’t mess with these cute kids, you hear me!

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SOUNDTRACK: GRINDERMAN-Grinderman 2 (2010).

The first Grinderman album was a sleazy delight.  And this Grinderman is much of the same sleazy heavy rock, although it’s slightly different.  It opens with “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man” which lets you know that Grinderman are still dirty and sleazy.  The song just rocks.  Screaming blistering rock.

Now, fans of old Nick Cave and The Birthday Party know that Nick is no stranger to noise and dissonance.  Some of these songs harken back to those days–the music (on”Worm Tamer” is crazy–feedback squalls and trippy organ) and yet they never veer into chaos.  They are tightly controlled but with wonderfully loose edges.   It also features the wonderful lyrics: “My baby calls me the Loch Ness Monster–two big humps and then I’m gone”).  “Heathen Child” is a loud, raucous, blasphemous treat, one of the best on the disc.

“When My Baby Comes” slows things down a bit and actually veers terribly close to Bad Seeds territory (which isn’t a bad thing by any means, but Grinderman is supposed to be an escape from that, right?).  The song loudens up, though and a really cool slippery bass propels it for the rest of its 7 minute length.  “What I Know” is like a slow prose poem, but it is followed up by the blast that is “Evil!” a wonderfully brash 3-minute blast of noise rock.  The chanting backing vocals are wonderfully evil.  “Kitchenette” ups the sleaze factor nicely.

“Palaces of Montezuma” is another mellow song–also very Bad Seeds like.  It seems like it would be long (like it would keep building), but it’s only 3:30.   “Bellringer Blues” ends the disc with some cool backwards guitar and more chanted vocals (definitely the signature sound of Grinderman).  It ends this awesome disc on a very high note.

[READ: November 18, 2011] “The Climber Room”

I really enjoyed Lipsyte’s The Ask, so I ‘m delighted to see him with a new short story.   This one concerns a young (but no longer that young) woman named Tovah.  She has taken a job at a daycare center called Sweet Apple.  As the story opens, Tovah meets the other main character of the story, a man whose name she (hilariously) mishears as Randy Goat.  It turns out that Randy Gauthier is a rich man whose children have all gone to Sweet Apple and his new girl Dezzy is now enrolling.

Tovah isn’t trained for this job–she’s just there part time–and either despite or because of this, Dezzy takes to her immediately.  On a day that Tovah is not there and Dezzy fell off the Climbing Room (a jungle gym) she cried and cried for Tovah.   Mr Gauthier spies Tovah the next day and informs her that he has switched her schedule so that she will only be there when Dezzy is there.  Tovah is (understandably) freaked and a little pissed.  But when he tells her to Google him, she learns why he can have such sway over things.  (more…)

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tny 11.10.08 cvr.inddSOUNDTRACK: GRINDERMAN-Grinderman (2007).

grindermanNick Cave has been making interesting and varied music for decades.  From his original noisemakers The Birthday Party to his countless albums with The Bad Seeds, there isn’t really a style that Cave hasn’t explored.  In fact his last four albums with the Bad Seeds cover some vastly different terrain right there.

So, why, one wonders, does he need to create a side project?  I’m not sure if the project was his idea or for some of the Bad Seeds to get a chance to play without the others (the other three members of Grinderman are in the Bad Seeds), or if it was just a fun and loose way  to play some tunes, but regardless: with Nick singing, you’ve basically got a Bad Seeds project.

Nevertheless, this project experiments with music in a way that the Bad Seeds haven’t really, or for that matter, in a way that Cave hasn’t since The Birthday Party.  There is a lot of distorted/feedbacky guitar, and strange effects that fill these songs.  In fact, there is no acoustic instrument on this disc…not even Cave’s piano!

“Get It On” starts the record in a suitably raucous way: “I’ve got some words of wisdom. (He’s got some words of wisdom)”.  “GET IT ON! GET IT ON!” etc.  And “No Pussy Blues” is a wonderfully funny blues about, well, the title says it all.  I particularly like that he sings the verses of the song seemingly too long, so that they overlap the “But she didn’t want to” parts where the music changes at the end of the line.  “Depth Charge Ethel” is all chaos and noise and “ooh ooh” backing vocals.  And “When My Love Comes Down” and “Love Bomb” keep up the rocking, noisy experiment.

“Electric Alice” slows things down, but adds to the noise and distortion.  And “Go Tell the Women” is a very funny, borderline spoken-word piece: “We are scientists We do genetics We leave religion To the psychos and fanatics But we are tired We got nothing to believe in We are lost Go tell the women that we’re leaving.” The guitar is simple and plunky and might even come from something Tom Waits did, and it works perfectly.  “Man in the Moon” is a sad ballad, where you might expect the piano, but which keeps the electronics high.

“I Don’t Need You (To Set Me Free)” is the most Bad Seedsesque song of the bunch, and could easily have been on, well, any of his recent records.

I guess in answering my initial question, if there’s a reason to make this a side project release it is to let the Seeds have a lot of fun.  You can feel how loose this record is and tell that it was a blast to make.  Not that his Bad Seeds records are a tight ship of control (see the 15 minute “Babe, I’m on Fire” from Nocturama for an anything-but-tight ship).  This collection also really lets Warren Ellis shine.  I don’t know how much he contributes to the Seeds in general, but his work is all over this, and it’s a fun difference for Nick’s voice.

[READ: November 13, 2008] “Leopard”

Wells Tower is a name that you don’t easily forget. I had read a story by him in McSweeney’s and enjoyed it.  But I think his name stayed with me more than the story.  When I saw his name again, I was intrigued.  The first few paragraphs were also very intriguing so I read on.

The story starts with a youngish boy not wanting to go to school (in a very funny scene, his cold sore is described as a hamburger).  He finally convinces his mother to let him stay home.  But, unlike Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, the story takes a rather dark turn.

We learn about the youngish boy’s stepfather who is a tough disciplinarian and who expects hard work out of him.  He does the work but resents his stepfather greatly.

On this, his day off from school, the young boy tries to avoid his stepfather.  However, he is put to the task of getting the mail—half a mile down the driveway.  He tries to make a point and show up his stepfather by faking an accident in the driveway.  His plans go somewhat askew when it’s not his mother who pulls in the driveway, but a stranger.

The story, although dark, was enjoyable.  It won’t be hard to remember Wells Tower’s name, but I’ll keep an eye out for it in the future. This story also happened to be the second story I read that day (I had just finished the last few pages of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach) that mentioned splitting logs for the “wood burning furnace.”  Not exactly an unheard of activity, but not entirely common either.  What a weird coincidence.

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