Grubstake – Dynamite & Other Inventions (CD)

Grubstake – Dynamite & Other Inventions / 2005 Nine Mile / 12 Tracks / / / Reviewed 18 April 2005

“Whispering Blues” 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 “Whispering Blues” 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 “Letters Left To Write”, 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 “The Time Is Out” 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 “The Most Promising Astronaut”, 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 “Dynamite & Other Inventions”.

Cresting during “Meteor Shower”, 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, “Alligator Blues” really makes more sense and follows the entire “Blues” style more than its on-disc predecessor “Whispering Blues”. 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, “Coming Home To Be With Me Tomorrow” 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 “Midnight Creep”, 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, “Ghosts of Arkadelphia”.

Top Tracks: Party With Lawyers, Meteor Shower

Rating: 5.7/10

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