I was surprised a few weeks back to open my email inbox and have a message from Slow Fizz Records asking if i wanted a copy of the new Grimble Grumble LP. Wow. I had not heard from the band since 2004. Had they changed? I emailed back: "Yes, i would love a copy of the album ... unless, of course, they tried to re-invent themselves as a gangsta rap / crunk / alt.country act! Please tell me they have done no such thing..." I was assured that they had done no such transformation, and then in a week i had crisp new vinyl show up at my condo!
It's always nice to receive a promo on delicious vinyl. However, i know that many of our loyal EvilSponge readers do not have turntables. Additionally, the vinyl pressing is limited edition. I looked online and was unable to find any info about a CD release, but the record is available for download at Amazon, and presumably other fine sellers of MP3s.
There are 9 songs here, but before i get into them a few words about Grimble Grumble. The name "Grimble Grumble" comes from the Pink Floyd song The Gnome, which was a track on that bands 1967 debut record, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. That simple fact should tell you that Grimble Grumble are an intensely psychedelic guitar band. Their sound is typified by rhythms that meander, layers of effected guitar, keyboard drones, and a voice buried faintly in the mix.
September Sun is their third full-length album, and their first release in seven years. However, if you liked what they were doing before, then you will like this. Grimble Grumble have not "gone crunk", but instead continue to make songs based on guitar grooves that seem to stretch into infinity.
The record starts off with Soundcheck Song, which i assume is named for its place in their live shows. It has a lovely chiming guitar line, with the voice of Christine Garcia buried low in the mix. Everything gets a little noisy, presumably as the guitarists (John Hudson and Saleem Dhamee) run their pedals in order to soundcheck them.
The last bid of guitar feedback fades out, and Ms. Garcia, who also plays bass, joins with drummer Mike Bulington and starts hammering away at a deep groove. The guitars clatter over this groove, and Garcia sings the song title, It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl over and over as the groove thrusts the song forward and the guitars explode. This reminds me of the Velvet Underground in a way that many bands attempt, but few bands ever achieve. It is, in fact, surprisingly hard to create that kind of a rhythm, but Grimble Grumble do it very well.
The next tune, Slow Rider, starts really minimal, with sparse guitar chiming and faint bass. Garcia's voice comes in, faint in the mix, but spacious through masses of echo. Things move along like this for about three minutes, the guitar part lovely and sparse, with long chiming notes. Then the drums kick in, and keyboards fade in to go all spacey, just exploding over the faint guitar. There is a really lovely progression here.
Grimble Grumble combine the two previous songs to make the next track, Dose Lied. What i mean by "combine" is that this song features a great chugging guitar riff that has the spirit of It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl combined with a lovely organ sound that is a logical growth from the end of Slow Rider. If It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl channels the Velvet Underground, this channels the spirit of The Doors' The End. Plus, the title amuses me: i like to think that the band are using the song title to cast aspersions on the virtue of Dose (One), the rapper from Themselves. Of course, Grimble Grumble and Themselves are very far apart -- about 25 years on this song in fact! Still, fictional feud aside, this is another fine, droning tune. If you are listening to this on vinyl, it also represents the end of side one.
Blimp Present is a interlude of noise. Just under two minutes of what i think is guitar feedback, but it creates a really spacious echo that sort of clears the head. So this is a sonic palate cleanser, if you will.
The next tune is called Tremolo Song, and the guitars are, in fact, buried under a wavering mass of tremolo. Ms. Garcia's voice is clearer here, maybe because the guitars are so distorted that they don't blur her singing as much. The song also features some very nice, oddly sparse drumming as well. However, all of that is only the first half of this seven minute song. Just when you think the tremolo is going to give you a headache, they turn it off, and spend the last three minutes just riffing away, and without all the tremolo, this is a nice, bluesy song.
It's back to the minimalism for GGL. This starts with e-bowed guitar, brushed drumming, and Garcia whispering. It's all very faint, but as the song grows, more and more distortion and echo is piled on the guitars, until the song becomes a mass of reverbing noise, very similar to what SIANspheric were doing on The Sound of the Color of the Sun. At the end, the echo is so full, so powerful, it is like the silent roar of space in an old sci-fi movie. Very cool. The space roar slowly parts and give us the next tune, the awesomely titled There Are Some Crazy Bird Songs. This is two minutes of guitar textures, taking the ending of GGL and twisting it into strange shapes. I know that these two songs will not appeal to a lot of people, but Grimble Grumble are doing some pretty neat things here. MBV fans take note!
Finally the whole record wraps up with Sunrise, which features a wavering organ drone, slow deep bass chording, and guitars chiming against each other. When they play slow and sparse like this, it reminds me a lot of Landing. And it is a lovely slow fade out to the record.
I continue to be impressed. If you like psychedelia and/or guitar distortion, then you need to check this record out. And there is more good news: according to Andrew at Slow Fizz, there will be a Grimble Grumble tour and it is likely they will play SxSW next year! I know it is too much to ask for an Atlanta date on the tour, but i am already looking forward to seeing them in Austin in 2012.