Nick Cave, renaissance man. Nick Cave, poet. Nick Cave, author, screenwriter, raconteur. Nick Cave, debonair, sophisticated statesman of rock. Grinderman, a Nick Cave helmed posse of hairy men, being totally belligerent, showing the kids how to do it, making the most fantastic, invigorating and utterly unholy noise you could ever have the pleasure of hearing. If thats what you call pleasure.
Living here in New Zealand it's hard to believe that US and UK critics are taking this whole Grinderman enterprise so seriously. Don't people recognise a bunch of Aussies grab-arseing around when they see it? Not to say that Grinderman are a joke band. They hit like a logging truck actually. It's just that they are having fun, lots and lots of fun. All be it in a very antipodean manner. By fooling about, wearing hilarious shorts, howling like a horny Lycan and donning sunglasses for the express purpose of looking at women undetected. In short Grinderman are awesome and you wish you were one of them.
Grinderman 2 is everything you could hope for in a modern rock album. It's lethal, funny and potent with the reflection of hell fire in it's eyes. From the moment in the first track when Cave sings "I was Mickey Mouse and he was the Big Bad Wolf" then starts howling like a wolf, to me, it felt like home. In the next song 'Worm Tamer' he sings "My baby, she calls me the Loch Ness monster, two great big humps and then I'm gone" I'm chuckling heartily. By the time he is taking it out on your facially challenged kids, I'm on the floor in hysterics.
To think that Grinderman could ever replicate the majestic weight or legacy of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds is folly. So they never even try. While the Bad Seeds travel the musical waters in an elegant clipper ship, Grinderman set sail in a sloop made of leather and piano wires with a huge engine nobody can see. People said of the first Grinderman album that they never saw it coming. Oh but they should have.
Some of us know The Birthday Party, Nick Cave's first band. We had our preconceptions of what a rock band could do shattered by hearing them. This was art from inside the hurricane. Not the eye, mind you, from the raging, roaring, spiralling air of the beast it's self. The Birthday Party offered and gave no quarter, held nothing in reserve and came with bad intentions to wreck the place and ruin your life. They were the natural heirs to The Stooges and Cave himself was the finest front man since Mr Iggy Pop. Yes, they were that dangerous. While Grinderman do not stink of inevitable catastrophe the way The Birthday Party did, it would still be unwise to leave your daughters with them. Once a lunatic Australian...
But it seems that our American and British cousins don't quite get the joke(s). They are all caught up on the dark, decadent turbulence of Grinderman, unable to see past the bluster to the fact that they are deeply horsing around. The overseas reviews seem to be ignoring the base Aussie-ness of the whole shabang. This isn't high art, this is low down rock music, concerned with all the things good rock and roll should be concerned with, girls, drinking, being cross with fools, being cross with girls, god, drinking more, being cross with god because of a girl and being drunk. And abominable snowmen. And wolves. What else did you expect, Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp family? It's Grinderman after all.