Recording: Grinderman – Grinderman

    The legendary Australian Nick Cave, who’s made gritty post-punk rock for a huge alternative fan base since the 1970s, teams with three of his favorite former Bad Seeds – a drummer, bassist and violinist – to mush their respective instruments into a muddy pot of charged folk, blues and rock under the name Grinderman. For the quartet’s self-titled debut, Cave – never one for the rules – switches things up by hitting the two-a-days grind himself, recording the album in only a few studio sessions and replacing his standard piano with an electric guitar. The results are so raw you’d swear you heard them walking down the alley behind your no-good neighborhood.

    But instead of indulging in overexperimentation, Grinderman’s musicians stay within the realm of what they do best: hard-hitting, electrified rock ‘n’ roll. Kicking things off with “”Get It On,”” Cave screams ridiculous rough stuff to tight-packed guitar crackle about anything he sees fit, whether it is getting the baboons off his back or offering some simple advice: “”I’ve got some words of wisdom / Get it on!”” he shouts off in a very monotone, Iggy-Popian trance. The honesty of “”No Pussy Blues”” sees Grinderman taking itself anything but seriously, willing to sacrifice a little dignity in the name of vulgar comedy.

    Messy without clutter, the rhythms on the psychedelic-folk screamer “”Honey Bee”” and “”Don’t Set Me Free”” remain steady and fierce – but Cave isn’t afraid to throw in some emo sting on ballads “”Rise,”” where violin lace is downright pretty, and “”Vortex,”” where scruffy, rugged vocals (“”I just want to hold your hand / I got a gun / No other plan””) float gently over soft piano.

    Grinderman doesn’t stray far from standard, next-door garage rock, but luckily, Cave knows how to revamp an old feeling. With 13 songs – wham, bam, thank you Grinderman! – the album drops off at about 50 minutes, just long enough to make us forget the teenage rage of curses and worshipping guitar fuzz made by someone old enough to be our father.

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