Legendary post-punk band will play a Feb. 12th Minneapolis gig at First Avenue as part of their upcoming tour to support their first new record in 15 years. Even if the new material isn’t that great, it should be great to see these guys back in action and onstage.
February 4 Phoenix Concert Theatre Toronto, ON
February 5 Theatre of Living Arts Philadelphia, PA
February 7 Paradise Boston, MA
February 8 Webster Hall New York, NY
February 9 9:30 Club Washington, DC
February 11 Metro Chicago, IL February 12 First Avenue Minneapolis, MN
February 15 Venue Vancouver, BC
February 16 Showbox @ the Market Seattle, WA
February 17 Wonder Ballroom Portland, OR
February 19 The Fillmore San Francisco, CA
February 20 House of Blues Anaheim, CA
February 21 Music Box Los Angeles, CA
Okay, here it goes: After proclaiming to an almost sold out audience that it was their first Minneapolis headlining show, and first show in the cities in almost two years, I have to admit that I was mildly underwhelmed by Dr. Dog’s performance. I’ll have to say upfront that I’ve never been heavily into the band’s records save for The Fate. I’ve always heard they are great live and they are usually get good slots on the festival circuit, so maybe I was expecting a little more. And it’s not that the guys don’t know how to put on a good live show. They know how to play their songs with their instruments, but that’s part of my problem with it – they don’t seem to take any chances live and rarely do they stray away from the original structure of their songs. When I see a band live I want them to have a few hiccups and switch it up a bit. Instead, Dr. Dog played it safe and banged out their songs like a band that more than likely plays around 250+ shows a year. Having been to many shows, it’s awkward when the band you came to see is probably playing a cookie-cutter set from the night before.
The band blazed through material from most of their albums while most came from the group’s newest LP Shame, Shame. Their brand of folk-influenced pop-rock goes over very well for our hometown crowd. The guys are as solid as solid can be and they do get into their own songs – all three guitar players bounce and jump in unison to beat of their own drum. What is a pleasure about seeing Dr. Dog live is seeing them split through genres from one song to another. One minute they can go from a heavy, almost metal-like beat to a trickling acoustic ballad the next. One of the highlights was their glorious cover Architecture In Helsinki’s “Heart It Races” before the encore. They came back on to do another four-song set before closing out the night. Others at the show and Dr. Dog diehard faithfuls will probably want to chew me out for this review, but I was just expecting more from this band. Who knows? A lot of people at the show seemed to dig it, so maybe I’m just being a little hard on the guys.
Kicking off Thursday’s show at 7thStreet Entry was the current Afternoon Records roster member, Souix Falls, South Dakota’s We All Have Hooks For Hands. With six members harnessing the band’s folk-infused indie pop, it’s impressive the guys can keep all of their ramshackle, riff-heavy songs from completely disintegrating. They instead charge and cascade; and the three-guitar threat mixed with the trumpet reminded me of something like Cap N’ Jazz on steroids. Their hooks were huge and the high-pitched lead vocals made for a really energetic and youthful performance. They even a broke out a surprisingly tolerable, fun version of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”
Next up was the female-fronted local act Total Babe. Having never heard them before, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the young, wide-eyed lead singer Lizzie Carolan. But they didn’t disappoint. The band balances Carolan’s soft, twee vocals against riff-heavy instrumentation much in the vein of Belle and Sebastian. Well-crafted melodies and carefully-placed chillwave-esque jingles made them a very pleasurable listen. I can see why they are on some many people’s radars. Although I kind of wish they would have opened as far as the overall flow of the show. We All Have Hooks For Hands would have been a nice precursor to the surging power of Avi Buffalo.
Anyone that has kept up with indie blogs in the past year knows one thing about the new Long Beach, California band Avi Buffalo: “Holy shit! They are all so young. OMG.” Yeah, it’s no secret that the three members of Avi Buffalo aren’t even old enough to drink – and they wore those bold “X’s” on their hands on Thursday night proudly. But on the only side of that realization is that – in the words of Wayne Campbell – they can fucking wail. After seeing them perform, it’s not surprising that Avi alone was able to pull off his songs live as a one-man show before forming the full band. With at least a half dozen pedals at his disposal, Avi himself was a wall of sound held together by the strong rhythm section. The most impressive thing about the songs they played – all of which were from the band’s debut self-titled record – was how much more flushed out and jam-heavy they were. Avi creates incredible sonic waves of sound while also taking time to meander into big, screeching solos. At times, the small Entry seem too small of a venue and at other times it was just right. I was wary if Avi would be able to pull off his high-pitched vocals live, but he hit nearly every note and his voice remained clean and direct. The band has been riding on their debut since April, so they should be releasing new music in the near future. But it was nice to see the debut flushed-out after having soaked in the songs for months – even if the set clocked in at about 45 minutes.
Housewares: how some stay afloat in a sea of competition. (hardware and home center stores; includes related article of Coast Hardware, Laguna Beach, CA)
Do-It-Yourself Retailing January 1, 1991 | Elkins, Marlena; Hamburg, Ruth Housewares How Some Stay Afloat in a Sea of Competition The song remains the same for selling housewares. Carrying the basics and promoting service works for some. For others, houseware and giftware niches are the key. Successful strategies depend on customer base, the market and the retailer’s style.
On a list of 16 channels of distribution for housewares in 1989, the National Housewares Manufacturers Association (NHMA), Chicago, listed discounters at the top. This is no surprise. These retailers position themselves as the places to shop for housewares. “Hardware stores” came in 10th and “home centers” 15th. this web site laguna beach ca
National Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) studies show that hardware stores sold $1.14 billion worth of housewares in 1989 while home centers sold $744.8 million and d-i-y lumberyards sold $225.4 million.
Are hardware stores getting less of the housewares market? SERVISTAR Corp., Butler, Pa., isn’t, according to buyer Kirby Kegel. “In fact,” she says, “more of our stores are taking the opportunity now to get involved with selective market niches within the housewares category which will differentiate SERVISTAR stores from the competition.” Mel Gregory, group merchandise manager for Ace Hardware Corp, Oak Brook, Ill., says housewares is a category that still stands up in a soft economy. “Staple products hold their own,” he says. “Fancy products might lose a little.” Gregory acknowledges that tough competition causes many retailers to opt out of the housewares business. “But after awhile they want back in the market. There is a basic need for housewares.” Survival Strategies – Flexibility helps retailer George Allemenos manage his housewares department. Allemenos’ store is located between several discounters in Indianapolis. Wal-Mart opened a store down the road this fall.
Allemenos has gradually scaled back his housewares department through the years. He once carried a full line of dishwares, cutlery and flatware. Now, he keeps gadgets and basic items in stock, but watches them carefully. If a new item doesn’t sell, he phases it out immediately.
Nowadays, he’s selling a lot to young people and newly divorced men, who like the convenience of his store, which they can’t get at the discount store.
Scaling back housewares department is one tactic retailers have used. Make sure that your department sales warrant the space allotted to it. If housewares represent 25 percent of your salesfloor but 5 percent of your sales, you might want to rethink your product offering.
One tactic is to look at what your competitors are doing. Peggy Moses, a buyer for Hader Hardware, a chain in Cincinnati, says her stores have picked up business from other stores that have gone out of the housewares business.
Moses says Hader stores have stuck with the basics, avoiding trendy items. She has even noticed the popularity of electric skillets and crockpots coming back. Trendy items sell well at some stores, however. Tad’s True Value, located in the business district of Myrtle Beach, S.C., sells mostly kitchen gadgets and small appliances in the housewares department. Special order and repair services give Tad’s an edge over competition, as do special weekend promotions. website laguna beach ca
You might as well forget competing with discounters’ buying power in housewares. But when you buy it cheap, sell it cheap, advises Pat Curry, manager of C.M. Love Hardware, Huntington, W.Va.
C.M. Love competes with niche areas within its housewares department. Giftwares, such as candles, baskets and silk flowers, are bigger sellers than housewares, Curry says.
Personal service, of course, is the classic method of competition. This really can give you an edge in housewares, where time can be more valuable to customers than a few cents saved, Curry asserts.
Winona Cowan, owner of Hunter-Cowan Trustworthy, Cedar City, Utah, has a large housewares and gift department and a successful bridal registry. Her services include giftwrapping and special order.
Cowan makes a strong commitment to get to know all of her customers. Women shop the department year-round, but men shop it heavily during the holiday season. Getting to know them then can bring them back as customers later, Cowan says.
While the song remains the same in housewares, with tight buying, an appropriate mix of product and excellent service, you can stay on track for the ’90s.
Buying Update * By the year 2000, spending on kitchen appliances and equipment is expected to rise 35 percent, and top $22.5 billion.
* Wholesale buyers say the Middle East crisis has affected raw materials costs in housewares somewhat. However, costs for plastics and copper continue to remain stable.
* Mauve is still being fazed out in housewares. Today’s hot colors include white, almond, slate blue and sage green.
* Modern and Southwest looks are picking up in popularity.
* Modern environmental products – such as trash separating bins, bag stands, can crushers, trash bags and environmentally safe household cleaners – are making their way in this category. And housewares manufacturers are using smaller packaging and blister cards.
* Breadmakers will become a staple in full-line housewares/gourmet departments.
* Plastic foam packaging inserts may be replaced by cardboard or tissue paper.
* Crisp, clean and contemporary are the buzzwords in colors and styles for small storage items. White and black are still favorites.
Merchandising Tips Obviously, your product line and merchandising stance will depend on your customer base and your competition. Tailor these tips to your needs.
* Before remerchandising existing displays, think about what categories you can merchandise by use, material, color, etc. By throwing it all together indiscriminately, you lose much display impact.
* When placing cooking utensils on shelving, always point the handles to the right.
* Set off special services, such as bridal registry and gift wrapping, with signage and displays.
* Display selected houseware items – such as appliances – out of the package so customers can see them.
* Use manufacturer tags and p-o-p literature on products and/or boxes. Customers went to know all there is to know about the products before they buy them.
* Promote housewares on endcaps that have a different look than your other endcaps. This look can be easily achieved on steel gondolas by using contact paper.
PHOTO : While giftwares sell more than housewares at C.M. Love Hardware, Huntington, W. Va., managers might rethink these departments when Wal-Mart opens nearby this spring.
PHOTO : Housewares is a fashion category for which display is crucial. Hardware on Hennepin, in downtown Minneapolis, caters to students, office workers and residents. Keeping the department neat, bright and well-merchandised helps attract sales from these one-stop shoppers.
Greatest Hits albums or shows playing the old “hits” can be convenient straw men for music critics/purists, but damn can they be fun. When a majority of the crowd knows a majority of the lyrics to a majority of the songs, it can be a special experience. This was the case for the sold out show featuring the “classic, 93-96” lineup of Guided by Voices Tuesday night at First Avenue.
The crowd, which consisted heavily of middle aged men (a few even with dates!) who tossed back beers and sung along with their favorite band from college. Robert Pollard and the gang didn’t disappoint, playing not only the material from 93-96, but selected gems from outside that period. From the moment the “The Club is Open” sign lit up, the crowd was firmly wrapped around Pollard’s finger. Starting with a rousing “A Salty Salute” and continuing over the 35+, nearly two hour set, the band tore through classics ranging from “Pimple Z0o” to “Tractor Rape Chain” at the start, to “My Valuable Hunting Knife,” “Hot Freaks” and “Cut-Out Witch” in the middle, to end of set pleasers like “Don’t Stop Now” and “I Am a Scientist.”
Despite the grey hair (or not even having grey hair) the band were sporting, they played with the kind of reckless abandon that bands half their age should be jealous of. Whether or not they ever were as big of “rock stars” as they probably should have been, the group fed off the energy of the crowd and played a set worthy of their legendary status. Even for someone like me, who was 9-13 during their classic period, they showed why they still are a required reference point for any indie rock band. Swinging microphones, 2 minute bursts of classic rock and punk, rock star poses and lots of beer and tequila. They don’t make them like they used to.
Like fellow 60’s AM pop influenced electro popsters Cut Copy, Caribou bring a decidedly dancy tinge to their music, especially in the live setting. The biggest difference I saw from the two great groups was Caribou’s desire to stretch songs out, turning their songs into electro funk, spaced out jams. The four piece group (frontman Dan Snaith backed by a powerful three piece featuring bass, drums and guitar) played an engaging, 70 minute set Monday night to a midsized crowd at First Avenue that highlighted, and expanded upon, the groups great set of songs.
The set seemed focused around finding a spaced out groove that Snaith and company were looking for. Snaith left his trademark red SG sitting idle most of the night, taking turns on the keyboards and joining in the drums during one of the many instrumental interludes. These dreamy soundscapes were not surprising, especially considering the groups latest release is the 15 person, live extended jam from last years ATP titled Caribou Vibration Ensemble. The record, which is a tour only vinyl release that has 8 songs and features the group jamming with Marshall Allen from Sun Ra, amongst other guests, highlights the band at their tight but jammy best. The two moments Monday night where the songs seemed to be more of the connection point than the rhythm were the bands two most recognizable songs, “Melody Day” from their last album and “Odessa” from Swim, which was the nights set closer before a one song encore.
It was cool seeing the 4 piece band set up on stage, all facing towards the center as they worked towards their funky, electro nirvana. Each member clearly was feeling the groove just as strongly as the crowd ( at times even more so it seemed, especially for the rather mundane Monday night crowd), and produced a great set. While some bands who noodle in sonic experimentation’s can lose the audience, Caribou found the right mix that kept the crowd moving and never made it feel forced. Based on both the show Monday night and the groups excellent new record, Caribou should rightfully be known now not just for their sonically adventurous pop records, but also their manic and wild live shows as well.
Relationships are at the heart of Wild Go, the sophomore record from Twin Cities sextet Dark Dark Dark. The interconnections of humans to nature, to each other, as well as to the loneliness that stems from a lack thereof, all feature prominently in the ten intensely personal new songs from the band. Recorded largely in Minneapolis’s now vacant Music Box Theater (as well as the former church that is Duluth’s Sacred Heart Studios) Wild Go seems to echo with the melancholy of that empty space. Just as emptiness yearns to be filled (nature abhors a vacuum after all) the new record seems to reflect the intimate spaces that we fill with ourselves and our loved ones.
Though on the surface the band’s Eastern European folk cum Southern Gothic Jazz hasn’t changed a great deal since 2006’s The Snow Magic, Wild Go finds the aesthetic fleshed out a great deal through the accompaniment of the band’s now larger membership, which contributes to more intricately structured and well-wrought tunes. The instrumentation still features accordion strongly, as well as haunting piano – both of which tend to lend the record a sense of somber sobriety. Banjo, brass, minimalist drums, and woodwinds also play into the fold, not to mention the occasional chime.
Nona Marie Invie, however, still holds the band’s center with her ethereal vocals weaving a strong sense of intimacy into each narration (with a few exceptions where Marshall LaCount takes the reins). Invie’s passionately emotion-laden “Something For Myself” makes a welcome second appearance (after first being released on the band’s recent EP Bright Bright Bright). Invie’s performances on the album’s titular meditation on crumbling civilization as well as heart rending soliloquy “Robert” are also both nothing short of amazing. The latter tune is features a lush, muted piano and clarinet accompaniment that would sound spare if not for the thoroughly saturated reverb that envelopes the arrangement like a warm blanket without overshadowing the track’s delicate sprinkling of chimes.
Additional standouts from Wild Go include upbeat, Slavic infused “In Your Dreams” which is punctuated by a profoundly deep men’s chorus, not to mention accordion and piano dirge “Daydreaming,” in which Invie again shines. While vocalist Marshall LaCount only takes the lead on a handful of songs, his angularly intense take in “Heavy Heart” is among the record’s best, and where Invie takes the lead LaCount can usually be found backing her up.
Though Dark Dark Dark have been around for a number of years now they still seem to be one of the Twin Cities best kept secrets (if we can even lay claim to them – the band could also occasionally calls home New York as well as New Orleans). With such an astounding work of musical artistry in Wild Go though, one can’t help but believe that Dark Dark Dark won’t remain a secret for much longer.
It can be difficult to gain a balanced perspective on an album after reading a single summary of the music. Bias can tilt a review, as can personal taste, history and just about everything else that is unique to the person writing it. So in an effort to offer an expanded perspective in such a medium, here are four reactions, four impressions, Four Takes on Grinderman 2 by Grinderman.
We all know that Nick Cave can do no wrong, so from the beginning Grinderman was destined to be great. The band’s first record made a valiant effort at bottling the volatile mixture of Cave and Warren Ellis. Warren’s drone-meets-psychedelic instrumentation added almost a lounge-type sheen to Cave’s sleazy preacher shtick. With Grinderman 2, the bouzouki and organ have become even creepier (“Kitchenette”), the sleaziness is at an all-time high (“Worm Tamer,” “Bellringer Blues”), and Cave and Ellis’s evil forces have combined to create what we can only imagine lounge music probably sounds like in hell. A really, really enjoyable hell.
In 2005 Nick Cave took members of his Bad Seeds band and recorded what became the first Grinderman record based on songs that Cave had been writing on guitar, an instrument he does not normally play. After taking a break for another Bad Seeds record, Cave & company are back with the followup, simply titled Grinderman 2
The album kicks off with “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man”, a song not too far off from the single “No Pussy Blues” from the first Grinderman album. Cave sounds vicious over the pulsating bass of the verses into loud noisy choruses, with Cave literally howling like a wolf. “I was Mickey Mouse / He was the big bad woooooooo” Cave yells in the lead up to the chorus. Most of the album follows a similar path through most of its 9 tracks, Cave snarling over pulsing bass and drum grooves into fuzzed-out guitar filled choruses. “When My Baby Comes” slows thing down for a few minutes until building into an almost stoner metal stomp. “Palaces of Montezuma” almost seems out of place, seeming like more of a Bad Seeds tune with Ellis’ acoustic guitar and the “ooh” background vocals. Things come back to loud with the final roaring psychedelic guitar of “Bellringer Blues”.
Cave’s lyrics throughout tend to border on almost comical. In “Worm Tamer”, Cave moans “My baby calls me the Loch Ness Monster / Two great big humps, and then I’m done”. The real standout thoughout is Warren Ellis, from the the buzzing and squealing electronics to his fuzzed out guitar work. Grinderman 2 plays out as a solid followup to the excellent debut: a sleazy, scuzzy record that is pure Nick Cave.
I think people generally take one or two views of their heroes: either they cut them more slack than they would otherwise or they hold them up to a higher standard. With regards to my own heroes, I think I fall in the latter category. Case in point: When I first listened to Grinderman 2, I admit that anything less than a masterpiece would have left me disappointed. And Grinderman 2 is no masterpiece. It’s a good album from a band fronted by one of my generation’s finest artists (or two if you count Warren Ellis). Cave and company produce a skuzzy, leering, generally bad-ass brand of garage rock that is as obsessed with sex as Murder Ballads was with killing. And they do it very well. “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man,” “Worm Tamer” and “Heathen Child” are fine examples of the band at the top of their game. As depraved as Cave attempts to be though for some reason I still don’t find it quite as convincing as his work with the Bad Seeds (ironic since Grinderman is supposed to be the more bestial of the two). Perhaps my ideal of Nick Cave though is tainted by the post-punk/gospel anti-evangelism that originally brought me into the fold. It admittedly took me quite awhile to get into Cave originally, but when I did I fell headfirst and never looked back. Perhaps with Grinderman I will eventually have the same experience.
It takes strength for an artist to cast aside what made him or her famous. The pull of attempting to repeat old successes must be nearly irresistible; it’s why hearing one Tom Petty record is pretty much the same hearing any other, with a few variations. Nick Cave, though, is militantly anti-pigeonholing, and his 30-year career is a testament to an artistic vision that takes no prisoners and thankfully repeats no patterns.
“Grinderman 2,” the appropriately-titled second record from his “side project,” is at once an affirmation and rebuke of middle age, of growing old, of performing for crowds 30 years his junior, and of seeing his contemporaries fade into obscurity, or worse, mediocrity. It’s a complex series of thoughts that somehow masquerade as a horny outpouring of wants: “I stick my fingers in your biscuit jar and crush all your gingerbread men ‘cause I want you,” Cave sings on “Kitchenette.”
The last Grinderman record came out in 2007 and it was a violent, teeth-bared and balls-out 35 minutes of schoolboy rhymes with a few flashes of Cave’s brilliance. He credits it with revitalizing 2008’s Bad Seeds record “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!,” which was called a simultaneous return to form and “growth record.” Now Cave seems to have found a medium between the two that occupies its own fully-realized artistic space: “Grinderman 2” features a few epic-length songs next to brief bursts; a few slower, brooding pieces next to slash-and-burn cock-rock; a few meditative interludes next to wolf-howling madness. It’s an affirmation of Cave’s limitless vision.
In addition, it appears to have been a growth point for the other Grindermen: Warren Ellis’ electric bouzouki playing seems to have been filtered through his and Cave’s collaborative score for longtime friend John Hillcoat’s The Road, while Jim Sclavunos reined in the spastic, violent drumming of the first record for something close to pure power. “Worm Tamer” is a brilliant portrait of a band at its peak, from the swelling harmonic textures to the crushing blues rhythm, capped by a mantra that only a music veteran like Cave can deliver: “Yeah, I guess I’ve loved you far too long.”
People who thought “Grinderman” was a return to Birthday Party-era thrash may be disappointed by this record. It’s a little too epic, too sprawling, too prepared, or too mellifluous to be the fast-n-dumb punk of young Nick—but it’s all the brilliant parts of his multifaceted career filtered into one disc (and expanded on to boot). Keep ‘em coming, Nick.
Grinderman will be playing at First Avenue in Minneapolis on November 23rd. Grinderman 2 is available here.