Instead of doing any running or cycling today given the shitty weather, I’ve decided to flip-flop my training routine with Thursday’s plyometrics/weights session. This keeps me inside and warm (dry…not so much) and not missing any of my planned workouts – weather pending, of course. Tonight’s strength workout then is another self-titled album, this time by Grinderman.
Grinderman was an Australian-British alternative rock band that formed in London, U.K., in 2006. Since its inception, the band included Nick Cave (vocals, guitar, organ, piano), Warren Ellis (tenor guitar, electric mandolin, violin, viola, guitar, backing vocals), Martyn P. Casey (bass, guitar, backing vocals) and Jim Sclavunos (drums, percussion, backing vocals). Basically, it’s a side project to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The band was originally known as Mini Seeds and was formed by Cave as “a way to escape the weight of The Bad Seeds”. The band’s name was inspired by a Memphis Slim song, ‘Grinder Man Blues‘, which Cave is noted to have started singing during one of the band’s early rehearsal sessions.
This debut album was released in 2007 to extremely positive reviews. Rumors have it that the recording sessions for the album only lasted four days, during which time the band also recorded a number of extra material.
Truthfully though, the album is a difficult listen sonically; it’s coarse, abrasive, disjointed and confusing. However, it does add up to two things really well: black humor and a love for the kind of rock & roll younger musicians have to plot, plan, pose and dig deep into their record collections to try and emulate. When the band jumps in with all the racket unleashed, the track is as tragically funny as it is unhinged. For example, ‘No Pussy Blues‘ sees Cave trying to woo some young woman in the crowd with all his tricks, from sucking in his gut and getting all togged up to quoting her Yeats to doing her dishes and sending her doves, but is still ultimately rejected. The wail of age is fraught with both danger and delight as he continues his desperate and unsuccessful attempt at seduction, but all he ends up with is the “no pussy blues”.
The opening track ‘Get It On‘ is similar but even wilder: it comes bursting out of the box like a rabid wolf. Even on the slower tunes such as ‘Electric Alice‘, a story-song, the grimy organ sounds and Ellis’ distorted bouzouki and violin meet the slippery mud shuffle of Sclavunos’ drums and Casey’s plodding, droning bassline. All of this said, there are moments here, such as on ‘Depth Charge Ethel‘ and ‘Honey Bee (Let’s Fly to Mars)‘ where Grinderman are so freaking awesome they transcend the garage band thing altogether and sound like some flipped-out cross between the Stooges and, say, Bo Diddley. The album closes with ‘Love Bomb‘, with Cave railing on electric guitar. It’s a pumping anthem of pure male libidinal dis-ease that takes the same sentiments of ‘No Pussy Blues‘ to the extreme, though Bob Dylan could have written the words.
Honestly, this being the second time I listened to it…this is the first time it “clicked”. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get it the first time around; far from actually. This time though, awesome. I guess that’s what eight years of acquired taste and wisdom will do for you. Of course, I likely wasn’t working out with the heavy iron back then when I first heard it and, even now, there’s not much else I’d rather be doing when listening to this as it just suits the mental mindset one has while one is also ripping muscle fiber and sweatin’ up a storm.