Critical Writings -> Academic Journals -> Articles & Reviews

Articles and Reviews: MUSIC

Grinderman by Grinderman (Mute)

Nick Cave has decided to tackle the male mid-life crisis. While other men would have bought a red sports car or had an affair with their secretary; Old Nick decides to buy himself an electric guitar and fuzztone pedal, and strip The Bad Seeds back to a basic line-up, effectively creating a new side-project, consisting of himself, Warren Ellis (also of Dirty Three fame) on electric violin and electric bouzouki, Martyn Casey on bass and Jim Sclavunos on drums. This is the sound of a bunch of middle-aged men with no ladies around, and rather than evolving they’re regressing, producing a primitive bluesy swamp stomp worthy of a punky garage band that could be called The Hairy Bowsies.




In fact, the name comes from a 1941 Memphis Slim song, and opener ‘Get It On’ sets the tone, with Cave announcing I’ve got to get up to get down, and start all over again, head on down to the basement…before going on to mythologise his Birthday Party legacy. The by now notorious ‘No Pussy Blues’ (not an affliction the singer suffers from in real life, one imagines) follows, the litany of sexual frustration assailing the aging hipster seemingly no less urgent than that experienced by teenage boys everywhere, projections of his younger self, back in the garage.

But it is with the playful Latin inflections of ‘Go Tell The Women’ (we’re leaving) that Cave fully confronts his male response to increased female autonomy. After working through high achievement and bored indifference, the coda murmurs the plaintive cry Come on back now to the fray. Grown up but still growling, the more I get into this grinding set, the more I like it.

First published in Magill, May 2007















Critical Writings
Travel Writings