Nick Cave''s Grinderman''s latest has an extra helping of sinister savagery

Grinderman II

When the first Grinderman record hit in 2007, it seemed to signal a kind of second (or third . . . or fourth) adolescence for Nick Cave. Working with Bad Seeds Warren Ellis and Martyn Casey and former Sonic Youth drummer Jim Sclavunos, Grinderman achieved a raw, stripped-down rock ensemble sound that felt like the Birthday Party (Cave’s first band of note) revisited 20 years down the line and trading numbers with a faded bar band covering Tonight’s the Night and Nebraska.

On Grinderman II there’s a little bit less of the blues balladry and an extra helping of the sinister savagery—thanks in large part to the chainsaw- buzzing and horror film-slashing guitar of Warren Ellis. A longtime Cave conspirator, Ellis seems to have a telepathic sense for punctuating Cave’s city-cool, punk-preacher verses—a facility on plain display on the opening cut “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man” and “Heathen Child.” Ellis’s tones are grotesque and delicious, peppered with grinding fuzz and positively filthy wah sweeps and dashes that makes a perfect sonic picture of Grinderman’s wonderfully lecherous, sleazy, leering miscreant persona. Nastiness!

Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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Learn to rip like one of the all-time masters of modern electric blues.

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