Acoustic Ladyland
Skinny Grin


4.0
excellent

Review

by butcherboy USER (123 Reviews)
November 21st, 2018 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You got a skinny grin. You got a pint of gin.

For the better part of his early career, Pete Wareham had been stranded in utter banality – first, a session horn knee-deep in London’s jazz club scene, which by then had done away with any sort of avant-garde combustibility and had both cheeks planted squarely into elevator mode. Then a prolonged stint in Polar Bear, whose room temperature competency always betrayed the ‘experimental’ prefix the British music press had tacked onto their jazz modalities. And finally, Acoustic Ladyland, whose first album did little more than serve up a handful of Hendrix covers (hence the atrocious name), stripping the songs of all electric vigour, until what was left was as ungloriously tepid as your local open mic scenester nervously butchering away on a Sunday night.

Seemingly, by 2005, he’d had enough. On the band’s sophomore Last Chance Disco, Wareham’s more intrepid and audacious sides finally burst forth and through. He added a proggy tonality to the guitars (upended by only the occasional metal outburst), a squawking free-form pitch to the sax, bumped up the rhythm section and added vocals, which, forgetting all boring implications that jazz might carry, were all London punk – rough and rasping, vexed and often off-cue, with lyrics that just skirted the edge of improvisational nonsense.

The reviews Last Chance Disco garnered were much more a mixed bag than his previous efforts, which for a man who probably always fancied himself a cutting-edge experimentalist, was a grand thing, when compared to the neutered unilateral acclaim Polar Bear got from awards committees and mainstream publications. And less than a year later, Wareham was ready to deploy all his new tricks in re-honed form. So we come to Skinny Grin.

Opener “Road of Bones” spends a dozen seconds or so in mid-tempo Fats Waller-esque piano twinkling, then ignites in a litany of heavy riffing, manic bass-work and saxophone that seems about ready to end it all. From there, Skinny Grin runs through stills of mayhem subverted only by occasional instances of unabashed beauty. The moody, desperate “Red Sky” builds and builds, until it comes crashing down in a slew of brass wails. The sway-heavy “Your Shame” borrows a sense of doomed danceability from Afro-beat influenced jazz. The frantic title track and the anxious “The Rise” are as close as one gets to vocalized jazz punk perfection. And the Scott Walker-mixed “Salt Water” only aims to gut the listener – a shapeshifting show of rhythm and atmospheric electronics (James Chance, an all-too-evident influence, shows up to spar with Wareham on the track). Elsewhere, big band avant-gardener Alice Grant lends “Paris” a sense of cabaret agitation.

Behind its hobbling name, its croaking sax, and the artwork that features Russian-German expressionist’s Alexej Von Jawlensky’s stylized portrait of famed Russian dancer and drag vanguard Alexander Sakharoff, sits Skinny Grin, an album that looks to find reason in chaos, another take on just how much structure you can maintain by hacking away at random load-bearing beams. Whatever years Wareham spent in working musician purgatory are all redeemed in these frenzied songs.

The name is still horseshit. The music, something else entirely.



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user ratings (14)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
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Comments:Add a Comment 
butcherboy
November 21st 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

alright, alright, alright..

Papa Universe
November 21st 2018


20096 Comments


the cover is butcherboy during his drag show... and daily life

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butcherboy
November 21st 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I haven’t been that skinny since I was using..

Papa Universe
November 21st 2018


20096 Comments


damn clickbait

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
November 21st 2018


15045 Comments


There was a time I dressed with my wife's clothes and I looked exactly like that lady in the cover.

Welcome home butch.

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SandwichBubble
November 21st 2018


9345 Comments


Coooooool
on the check list it goes

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butcherboy
November 21st 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Halloooo..

Demon of the Fall
November 22nd 2018


9795 Comments

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I'm so excited to see this review, well done sir. More people should check this band, Living With a Tiger (still 2 votes, me & the guy who wrote a review after I'd requested one) is even better for my money. Underrated.

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DDDeftoneDDD
November 22nd 2018


4126 Comments


hum....why not? Dew, I didn't take you as a cross-dresser! X)

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Demon of the Fall
November 22nd 2018


9795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I often wonder if this band would've garnered a lot more attention (relatively) had their name not been so unbelievably terrible, not to mention potentially misleading. I noticed how that point was made at the end of the review.

You're an open-minded fella Deftone, so you should be fine. Check the one after if you dig (although it is quite different).

DDDeftoneDDD
November 22nd 2018


4126 Comments


TKs Demon, will do! Oooooh fuck...there's my backlog again m/

butcherboy
November 22nd 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cheers, Demon..

SandwichBubble
November 22nd 2018


9345 Comments


I'm expecting folk renditions of Hendrix staples, dunno if that's accurate

Demon of the Fall
November 22nd 2018


9795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The review is grossly inaccurate then, read this...

'The moody, desperate “Red Sky” builds and builds, until it comes crashing down in a slew of brass wails. The sway-heavy “Your Shame” borrows a sense of doomed danceability from Afro-beat influenced jazz.'

'a shapeshifting show of rhythm and atmospheric electronics (James Chance, an all-too-evident influence, shows up to spar with Wareham on the track). Elsewhere, big band avant-gardener Alice Grant lends “Paris” a sense of cabaret agitation.'

neg neg neg

SandwichBubble
November 22nd 2018


9345 Comments


mental-neg for false advertising

butcherboy
November 22nd 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

band is actually Zooey deschanel’s side project..

Papa Universe
November 22nd 2018


20096 Comments


you really don't like Zooey Deschanel, do you?

butcherboy
November 22nd 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don’t know her stuff, but the last time I paid attention to tv, she seemed everywhere.. she’s dead now, isn’t she?

Demon of the Fall
November 22nd 2018


9795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This thread took an unexpected & nonsensical turn (for the worst).

Papa Universe
November 22nd 2018


20096 Comments


she's not dead, but I imagine she's somewhere out there searching for the arc of the covenant with the nazis



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