There’s a meme going around Facebook at the moment that says ‘In 2 years’ time the 1990’s will be 30 years ago. When I think of 30 years ago I think of 1970’. It is of course aimed at the grunge generation who have all now grown up and are in their 40’s. If you lived through that period the very early 90’s was an exhilarating time, where there really did feel like there was a revolution in the air. Bands that previously would have had to fight for a place for the Indie Charts were on Top of the Pops and a previously insignificant city on the West Cost of America was leading that revolution. It didn’t perhaps last like we hoped; Kurt died; Britpop was born and it all seemed to be over before we had even stopped congratulating ourselves.
What it did do though is change the landscape socially and it became much more socially acceptable to be seen as different and to love a whole host of different types of bands. So with this in mind, it is of no surprise that we are starting to see new bands influenced by that period of music. It did have an impact but these kids are not copying it; they are reinventing it and I love to hear that influence in the sounds now. Let’s face it a lot of these bands were not even born at the time. So now let me introduce you to Australia’s Grasshole because if you like anything from grunge, to agit pop to even Britpop and Britrock then you are going to love Grasshole. A lot.
What really stands out on this album is the sheer inventiveness and the diversity of the songs. You simply do not know what is going to come next. Album opener (with a great dinner gong style opening calling us to dinner) is a catchy number which in its sludginess reminds me of the Meat Puppets but with the catchiness of a Nirvana Insecticide cover, held together by an almost tribal drumbeat. “Tinderella” continues in this vein and it becomes very clear early on in the record that at the heart of the band is a big pop sensibility, so despite the off tuned sounding guitars and Sonic Youth punctuated stop-start rhythms; a little bit like Sonic Youth they can’t help but put a big vocal melody at the heart of everything they do.
“In Too Deep” is the first move away from that more grunge-based sound and vocally I would put this more in the Brit Pop camp, this is very much Damon Albarn’s Blur. For me, so far a great list of influences, literally my 90’s and we are only 3 songs in. Next up we have “Shrink Wrap” again the band seem incapable of writing a song without drawing you completely in and again it’s distinctly Grasshole but they manage to pull in even more influences. Here we have overtones of Alice Donut and quite frankly I can’t see where you can go wrong with that sound, I for one would welcome more songs like this.
“Abort, Retry, Fail, Ignore” is another of the slightly Blur sounding songs – the later period when Graham was allowed to shred his guitar more experimentally. A great song, really catchy. Grasshole also have a lot to say; whether it’s about their own relationships or the state of the world we live in like “Frack Your Army” which covers pollution, the way we deal with our planet, killing it for our own greed, all sang in a way that you will be singing along to way before you understand the message they are conveying.
One of my favourite tracks of the album and probably the heaviest track is “Van Inhalin”. This is a great grunge rock track. Lots of energy and punch, it really wakes you up for the final stretch.
When I listen to Grasshole I hear so much of what I loved but in no way does it feel like this is the just treading over the same ground, it feels like a tribute to a great period of music. How consciously these bands have even been heard by Grasshole only they could tell us, but at the end of the day we absorb what is going on around us. So if there are moments of Urge Overkill it is done in a way that acknowledges the world but is not copying it. A great record with many, many great moments to enjoy.
Fuzz of Flavour is out now