[REVIEW] A. Grimes – Malt Liquor Fantastrophe EP

A. Grimes absolutely nail down a specific sonic identity and attitude on Malt Liquor Fatastrophe, their 4 song debut EP.  These songs mix the atmosphere of Tom Waits’ nightmare-carnival narratives with garage rock shamble, all of it delivered with a snarl.  Waits is a good reference point, actually – some of the guitar lines resemble the work Marc Ribot did on the singer’s seminal string of Island records in the ’80s, and A. Grimes have a similar knack for making miserable-sounding music that won’t make you feel miserable.  These are downer party jams.

Most of that atmosphere comes from the keys.  There’s a ghostly organ/calliope feel to all 4 of these tracks, with the keyboards pushed way up front, sometimes drowning out the vocals.   The pace helps set the mood, too.  Opener “Anton Grimes” chugs begrudgingly forward into clanging, stuttering breakdowns, and “Vegan Hunter” is built on a rhythm that would be at home on one of the early Bad Seeds records.  That the latter song is both the final and most downbeat track on the EP is typical of their approach – they’re not about to let you leave on a happy one.

As is pretty standard these days, you can download the entire EP for free from their Bandcamp page.  I’ve included a stream of “Anton Grimes” below just in case you’re feeling lazy.  You catch them at 529 this Friday, too – it’s a free show and they headline.



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