by Mat Weir
In an age of niche subgenres, folk revival and dance club hits, lovers of visceral, untamed rock are finding it harder to get their fix. Thankfully, the boys in Grinderman are back and ready to rip apart everything the digital age has to offer. Consisting of members from Nick Cave’s main project, The Bad Seeds; Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos’ sophomore album delivers everything that is missing from modern rock.
Completed within the walls of the Seedy Underbelly in Los Angeles, and produced by Nick Launay, the producer who brought us the first Grinderman album, 2 opens the door to a diverse psychedelic journey that possesses the part of us which clings to the past while looking straight into the eyes of what is to become.
While the first album was more of a loose jam session, 2 attacks the listener full-force, pulling no punches and connects with a grip of tightly knit songs. Heavy distortion and screeching guitars are offset with Ellis’ wailing violin pushing the album through the skies and sewers of the human spirit (“Heathen Child”), taking only slight pauses for oases of true beauty and love (“Palaces of Montezuma,” “When My Baby Comes”). On “Evil” (a personal favorite) Cave painfully bails to his lover, “Who needs the stars, you are my star” while the No Wave music sonically swoons with the faint cry of “evil rising” echoing from the rest of the band.
Lyrically, the album is everything and more that any Nick Cave fan has come to expect from his extensive career. Issues of religion and sex are neatly intertwined (“Mickey Mouse and The Goodbye Man”) with witty banter like in “Kitchenette,” a song about MILF love; “What’s this husband of yours ever given to you. . .the ugliest fucking kids I’ve ever seen.” Or take the second song, “Worm Tamer,” with lyrics like “My baby calls me the Loch Ness Monster, two great big humps then I’m gone.” It’s important to keep in mind that all the members of Grinderman are well into middle-age because 2 is harder and hornier than anything else to come out this year, hands down.
The guys themselves perfectly sum up the record, and Grinderman’s place in music, with the album art. Keeping with the animal theme that graced the first record, 2 features a lone wolf in a sterile room of white; bare teeth in a snarl, ready to fight a world of complacency devoid of the raw blood and guts of life.
I was lucky enough to catch them play to a sold-out crowd in Times Square last month and their energy blew me away. Cave’s voice was perfect as he ran from side to side on the stage and standing on the shoulders of the crowd in an Iggy Pop moment. Ellis’ wild, scraggly appearance only added to his intensity, flashing wild glances at the audience in between switching instruments throughout songs to a background of melodic distortion. Dare I say it, seeing them live was even better than listening to the record. But if you’ve missed your chance this time around, go pick up 2 and get yourself prepared for the next time around. If you’re disappointed in either, it’s time to reevaluate your life.
by John Connell
VARIOUS ARTISTS – F*>k Dance, Let’s Art
!K7 Records, 2010
Extremely cool new compilation representing much of the awesome dreamy Indie Electronic Pop that’s blowing my mind right now. As the title suggests, most of this music is for home listening rather than bangin’ at the club. Not to say these are arty experiments in boredom; on the contrary this album pulses with shimmering, lo-fi grooves and plaintive, moving vocal melodies. You’ll find popular, quality artists such as Crystal Castles, Health, and Animal Collective hanging out with “chillwave” ambassadors Toro Y Moi, Washed Out, & Memory Tapes, woven into the haunted vibe of “drag/witch house” acts Creep, Balam Acab, and SF’s oOoOO. A lot of styles mix around on this compilation, yet the songs are sequenced beautifully for a smooth and exhilarating experience. If the lack of guitars on most these tracks bothers you, go listen to some Guns ‘n’ Roses! I love this stuff, it’s the perfect driving music. Super creative and very inspiring!
Here are a few new arrivals that we at Streetlight feel you will enjoy.
Compiled by Raul
She’s A Trap 7” (Douchemaster)
These two tracks are a couple of teasers for what we truly believe is going to be an incredible rock n roll LP. Vintage Jesse RnR with “She’s a Trap.” He slows it down a bit on the B side with “I Won’t Say Goodbye.” Look for him in your city soon as he is currently touring his ass off. 1,000 pressed.
Let’s A Go-Go! Singapore & Southeast Asian Pop Scene 64-69 (Silver Tortoise)
“Funny thing happened to me back in 2001, during my first trip to Singapore. I was in a clothing store in Causeway Pointe, and an old ‘60s tune was blasting out of the stereo speakers. It sounded like your typical ‘60s pop hit, but the lyrics were sung in Malay! I was entranced, and wouldn’t be satisfied to just hear it just once. I spent the rest of my trip combing the local antique stores and flea markets, grabbing all the vinyl I could find. My first purchase was The Mysterians’ ‘Forget the Time’ ‘b/w My Girl Les,’ found at an antique store on Orchard Road. The cover, featuring the band wearing black masks and standing in green background, is such a classic that I spent a few weeks admiring it before finally purchasing a turntable so I could hear it. But when I finally did, lo and behold, an obsession was born. Nine years and five overseas trips later, my collection now boasts more than 600 rare titles from the region, which also includes Malaysia and Indonesia. In this first volume, I present a handful of my favorite finds. Some of these bands experienced regional success at best, while other disappeared after one or two recordings. Very few left behind any written history. I didn’t concern myself with which songs were hits, but rather which ones happened to appeal to this pair of western ears. I have included a variety of tunes, from rockers to ballads, covers and originals, all sung in a variety of native languages. A few instrumentals have been thrown in for good measure. Now on to the music… LET’S A’ GO-GO!!!” (CD version includes 8 extra tracks, not available on the MP3 release.)
Brace Face 7” (Douchemaster)
Nobunny’s oral fixation reaches fever pitch with “Brace Face” and “Your Mouth.” Also includes an awesome cover of Moto’s “It tastes just like a Milkshake.” You know him, you love him, and you’re just a little weirded out by him. 1,000 pressed
Forgetters (Too Small To Fall)
Forgetters is a three-piece Brooklyn band that formed in the summer of 2009. The members, Blake Schwarzenbach (Jawbreaker, Jets to Brazil), Caroline Paquita (Bitchin’), and Kevin Mahon (Against Me!), are not novices but still believe in the possibility of new music and new forms. In this spirit they have come together to explore the parameters of the power trio as a vehicle to convey sonic and verbal ideas. Expect comedy, tragedy, tea and sympathy.
Frankie Rose & the Outs
Frankie Rose & the Outs (Slumberland)
Frankie Rose has a reputation for minimal, Maureen Tucker-like beats and iconic presence in such buzz-stirring bands as Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls–groups that spearheaded a thriving scene that mixes the sounds of lo-fi garage and big, reverb-drenched, Phil Spector-produced ’60s girl groups with the noise aesthetic of The Jesus and Mary Chain, a touch of Velvet Underground and a strong DIY ethic.
On her new group’s self-titled Slumberland Records debut, Frankie Rose and the Outs have their heads in the clouds a bit more than Rose’s previous projects. The ghostly golden-oldie grooves of songs like “Girlfriend Island,” “Candy” and the pedal-pounding “That’s What People Told Me,” sound like the Cocteau Twins and Shangri-Las tracking a split LP with the help of a time machine and a freshly-acquitted Phil Spector.
The singer / guitarist / drummer–backed by bassist Caroline Yes, guitarist Margot Bianca, and drummer Kate Ryan– explores her dream-pop side on the album’s darker numbers, from the oscillating organs, spooky sleigh bells and melancholic melodies of “Hollow Life” and “Lullabye for Roads and Miles” to the disembodied balladry of “Save Me” and “Memo.” It’s all in the name of making “beautiful, serious music” that reaches well beyond simple Wall of Sound nods, though. That’s because Rose is more concerned with maintaining a specific mood than rehashing the hooks to which your parents lost their virginity.
First Blood (Goner)
Hail! Hail! America’s favorite loopily leporine rock ‘n’ roller, Nobunny, is back with a new album, First Blood, and it’s his catchiest batch of tunes yet. The melodious masked man kicks it off with “Ain’t It a Shame,” a bittersweet tale of a rocky romance in which Nobunny’s lover has no choice but to endure his frequent indiscretions. He’s just that damned charming. “Blow Dumb” is a Velvet-y tribute to all the things that make life worth livin’–“smokin’ Copenhagen,” make-out sessions and “burger breaks.” In fact, First Blood never overstays its welcome and lasts about as long as a particularly adventurous mid-party burger run.
“(Do the) Fuck Yourself” immediately jumps to the top of the list of onanistic rock songs along with the Who’s “Pictures of Lily,” Devo’s “Praying Hands” and the Gizmos’ “Pumpin’ to Playboy.” Have fun trying not to sing this infectious little number in inappropriate situations. Sure, we all know that Nobunny can deliver a raunchy, good-times number like no one else, but can our floppy-eared fop get sophisticated? Let the contemplative vibe and beautiful strings on “Breathe” answer that. “Live It Up” is the most optimistic of a collection of upbeat songs. Nobunny is so happy, he makes the 1910 Fruitgum Co. sound like Joy Division. On “I Was On (The Bozo Show),” Nobunny dreamily recalls a moment from his childhood where he actually shared the stage with the late, great clown-god Larry Harmon. In under half an hour, Nobunny goes through every worthy rock ‘n’ roll subgenre–bubblegum pop, garage, rockabilly and psych–and still beautifully articulates every single human emotion with ease.