Grinderman – Grinderman 2
Jeff Pearson, September 11, 2010
Originally published by Life’s Sweet Breath
Listen: “Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man”
Every once in a while, Nick Cave, the leader of the traveling freak show known as the Bad Seeds, needs to break it down and get the lead out. He brings along some familiar freaks, multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey, and Jim Scalvunos, and burns through a blistering set of punishing rock and roll in Grinderman’s second effort, Grinderman 2.
Grinderman succeeds immediately in achieving a raw, no nonsense sound that is as engrossing as it is challenging. “Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man” opens up the album with a bass riff and drum hits as the electric guitar warms up like Warren Ellis is trying to start up a chainsaw. The engine finally catches and all hell breaks loose. Cave’s vocals teeter on the edge between a croon and a growl on “Worm Tamer”, a brief ode to a woman whom Cave proclaims to be, aside from the song’s title, a “snake charmer”, “serpent wrangler”, and “mambo rider” over filthy, processed guitars and huge, pounding rhythms.
“Heathen Child”, the album’s lead single, keeps the guitars rolling around in the filth, roaring like caged lions. The animalistic feel to the song bleeds into the lyrics as well: “She was raised by beasts and grabbed by vultures/Here come the wolfman, the abominable snowman/Got a little poison, got a little gun/Sitting in her bathtub waiting for the wolfman to come”. “When My Baby Comes” is a slow groove, with a riff building and building into a fuzzed bass and atmospheric guitar polluting any clean air that might have mistakenly escaped.
The album lets loose of its death grip for a brief moment of tranquility in “What I Know”, a borderline ballad crackling with radio static and stripped down acoustic arrangement. Before you can get comfortable, “Evil” bursts through the speakers, a fast-paced rocker that never lets up for a second. “Evil” is followed up by a slow burner in “Kitchenette”, brimming with distorted, syncopated guitars panning in and out over Cave howling lines like “I keep hanging around your kitchenette, and I’m gonna get a pot to cook you in/I stick my fingers in your biscuit jar, and crush all your gingerbread men”. “Palaces Of Montezuma” is something Bad Seeds fans can really wrap their heads around, a catchy tune bouncing along led by Cave on piano. Just to remind us why we’re all here, Grinderman end things with “Bellringer Blues”, an absolutely menacing track and the perfect way to end the album. It is a culmination of all the elements that have peppered the songs preceding it, huge distorted guitars and bouzouki, pulsating rhythm and Cave lyrically tying it all to a world we can understand.
Grinderman 2 teems with gritty production and arrangements, keeping a very full, yet stripped down, bare bones sound. The attitude is in your face and honest, as we’ve grown fond of from Nick Cave. He’s a master of harnessing these crazy ideas that never really seem too crazy when we really think long and hard about them.