Grubstake â€“ Dynamite & Other Inventions / 2005 Nine Mile / 12 Tracks / http://www.grubbies.net / http://www.ninemilerecords.com / Reviewed 18 April 2005
â€œWhispering Bluesâ€ is a slow start to this album, seemingly too laid back and reserved to really kickstart the hearts and minds of new listeners to Grubstake. There are a number of moments during â€œWhispering Bluesâ€ that the band could break out and really ride emotional waves into a success, but rather stay in a very seventies-sounding groove. This is continued into â€œLetters Left To Writeâ€, where Grubstake mucks around in the same territory that was previously ventured. The major difference that divides the first few tracks is the more present nod to their early-to-mid nineties alternative music that Grubstake allows; hints of Radiohead and Blind Melon both come through. The tighter, quicker tempo of â€œThe Time Is Outâ€ captures partially the essence of Rivers Cuomo, even if the recording is not quite as punchy as the former. What is created is the same sort of distortion that made a band like Pere Ubu so god-damned memorable in the seventies; while the sound is nostalgic, it almost feels limiting to Grubstake in 2005. The recording of the disc is not sufficiently dense enough to demolish the finesse put on â€œThe Most Promising Astronautâ€, in which a thin tendril of slide guitar weaves its way through a slice of Americana that is truly a high spot on the early goings of â€œDynamite & Other Inventionsâ€.
Cresting during â€œMeteor Showerâ€, the rough guitars laid down by PW really allow eir tinny vocals to be exaggerated and omnipresent, a true smoke and mirrors move. In what can only be described as more nuanced version of a Stevie Ray Vaughan song, â€œAlligator Bluesâ€ really makes more sense and follows the entire â€œBluesâ€ style more than its on-disc predecessor â€œWhispering Bluesâ€. The sly vocals of PW along with the hooky guitars make this track, fairly quiet really twinkle in the middle part of this disc. However, â€œComing Home To Be With Me Tomorrowâ€ is too schmaltzy to fit in with the rest of the disc; the track, even made more obvious by the walking bass sounds as if it should be on a children-themed disc instead of a serious disc. The disc has its high moments, such as the virtuosic guitars present on â€œMidnight Creepâ€, but the sheer amount of par material on this disc really cheapens what would normally be impressive little on-track gadgets. Grubstake, even after taking a few other directions, have progressed little from their previous album, â€œGhosts of Arkadelphiaâ€.
Top Tracks: Party With Lawyers, Meteor Shower