Dave Graney
Knock Yourself Out

Loops, dirty R&B, funk licks and beat poetry. A.H. CAYLEY finds a hint of modern noir in Dave Graney’s 'Knock Yourself Out'.
First impressions may not mean everything, but they do account for something. A hint of what is to come; an idea beginning to form. An instinctive judgement, one that may or may not later be proven true. It is rarely surprising when they are found to be false, but incredibly satisfying when correct. On first impressions, this is a great record. Smart, witty – very sexy. It is with great satisfaction that I can declare this first impression to be correct. Graney has done it again, in a way and a style he never has before – and this time, solely billed.
He’s moved on since his last album, the Lurid Yellow Mist’s fantastic We Wuz Curious. If that record was set in a garish, 24-hour, ’60s-themed cocktail bar, this one is set in the doorway behind some dark, hip speakeasy no-one else knows about. Modern noir. It’s about the voice and the beat. There are loops, dirty R&B rhythms, funk licks and the contemporary beat poetry of Graney’s lyrical stylings.
From the first track, the titular ‘Knock Yourself Out’, the mood is set. The lyrics span a career of song titles. No, the lyrics are a career of song titles. His own. Is this egotism or cheek? Probably a bit of both, but in a good way. A characteristic way, even. Originally written as a cameo for a track by Melbourne hip-hop musician Plutonic, it was rejected for being too long. No wonder – it’s 5.08 long, and backed here by Clare Moore’s musical input in a “groove she brewed up” (as she did for almost every song).
“Some of Graney’s appeal lies in his possession of a strange vocal talent that always makes it seem as though he is singing directly to you.”
Some of Graney’s appeal lies in his possession of a strange vocal talent that always makes it seem as though he is singing directly to you, and not some generic audience of which you happen to be a part. The refrain on ‘Bodysnatcher Blues’, for instance, sounds as though it’s being whispered heavily into you ear – at least it did in mine. Perhaps that’s just wishful thinking convincing the senses of some sort of artist-audience solidarity. Graney has that effect on many. To paraphrase a fellow critic, no-one says “yeah” quite like him.
‘Dylan the Indie Fake’ is one of the best swipes I’ve ever heard, taking a vocodered swing at the mythology and deification of a man proclaimed to be a prophet but wanting none of it: “Furball music/Suckin’ the lint from your sleeves/He’s beside himself/He never asked to be here/Dylan, the indie fake.” ‘Sellout’ sees a dope, tripped-up beat beneath alternating funk bass and fuzzy guitar parts, under such great lines as, “It used to be a pejorative term of abuse/Once upon a time, people gave a shit/(Sellout!) while you can.” You can almost see the thinly-moustached sneer.
The album wraps up with ‘2068 Babe’, a track almost eight minutes long, placing the tumultuous ’68 of last century to the noisy, lo-fi tune of this one, looking to the future from the past, as Graney often does: “Molotov cocktails/Shaken and thrown/The Stooges rehearsing in an Ann Arbor basement, stoned.” By the end, the fuzz and feedback just cuts out with a reflective chuckle. We’re left without a conclusion. Fuck it – make your own.
Knock Yourself Out certainly leaves an impression. It’s an intelligent, audio pleasure. It’s so cool it hurts and its effects can be felt outside of the stereo. Rarely has an album so made me want to fuck. Get into it – knock yerself out.
+
Knock Yourself Out is out now through Cockaigne/Fuse.

 

KNOCK YOURSELF OUT - Dave Graney (Cockaigne/Fuse)
In which our hero puts himself even further out on a (non) commercial limb and produces one of the dirtiest and darkest-sounding albums of his 20-year career.
So what is it? Perverse R & B, on an early listen, but that descriptor evolves into something else eventually. How about Square-ploitaiton? This is the music Shaft would have played on his eight-track as he rounded Dead Man's Curve in his sports car on Sunset Boulevard at midnight with a bellyful of absinthe and a mindful of bad ideas. Black and smooth but somehow jarring.
It's not rock - at least not as 99 percent of the world knows it. It's anti-rock with creeping anarchism and a free set of steak knives thrown into the deal. Sequenced beats mix it with Clare Moore's ever-magnficient drums and neither seem to get their nose out of joint.
"Knock Yourself Out" is the sound of someone kicking out jams by stealth on all but the more obvious/conventional "Body Snatcher Blues". This 'un borrows a rhythm bed borrowed from Bowie and Iggy's "The Idiot", creeping along on a carpet of fuzz and a treated Graney vocal. Come to think of it, "2068 Babe" also takes the trip to Hansa Studio.
Likers of lyrics will find much reason to become better acquainted with the carnal "Throwin' One Into the World", the icon-decrying "Dylan the Indie Fake" and the twisted travelogue "I Don't Wanna Go Bush". The title track is a cut-up of key Graney lyrics and doesn't suffer a bit from being totally self-referrential.
It all sounds great too, with a mix of deep bass, percussion, buried guitars, keys and Dave's distinctive sing-speak vocal. Shimmering wah-wah ("Honky Tonk Rope a Dope") glints through occasionally, with the ensemble playing of the Lurid Yellow Mist (sans keyboardist Mark Fitzgibbon whose role is covered by Dave or Clare) ever present but wearing all sorts of sonic adornment.
You can see the Major Label A & R guys shaking their heads (if they bothered to play this) and asking: "What the fuck?" before returning to their sales targets and spreadhseets. It's tempting to say "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke" but this is deadly serious. The sad fact is that those men don't know but the little girls, and lovers of the unusual, understand.
So you know you don't have to search out your kicks in all the usual places. Take the trip. - The Barman
i94bar.com


The Adelaide punk-scene dandy Dave Graney finally made it big at home in the 1990s, after years of celebrated obscurity. Today, acclaimed country-rock albums and lounge-music experiments behind him, he pretty much does as he pleases. Graney's 22nd album finds him toasting seductively, Serge Gainsbourg-style, over pressure-cooked rhythm tracks from his long-term collaborator, Clare Moore, spiced with Stu Perera’s treacly blaxploitation guitar. “Sell out while you can,” advises Graney, satirically, on Sellout!. “Now we live in simpler times, and to not take the money and run is the biggest crime of all.”
Stewart Lee- Sunday Times UK July 2009

Dave Graney is one who knows how to think laterally. In fact, along with his genetic disposition toward irony-not a particularly common psychological or artistic attribute in Graney’s original home town of Mount Gambier- lateral thinking has been intrinsic to Graneys’ musical output since the dying days of Don Dunstans tenure in the South Australian parliament.
Graneys latest offering is “knock yourself out”, a collection of tunes that, according to the liner notes, derived from Graneys desire to build lyrics around a drumbeat. The opening title track is the key to the entire concept- an autobiographical narration of Graneys back catalogue, played out against a slick backbeat that owes more than a nod to Graneys recent fascination with rap and r&b (not to mention providing more evidence of Clare Moores drumming brilliance).
FRom there its a quick shuffle to the stylish airline lounge aesthetic of “It was then or never” , the slick pop of “honky tonk rope a dope”, the 50’s sci fi schlock blues of “bodysnatcher blues” , the irreverent electronic homage “Dylan the indie fake” and its possible companion piece “sellout!” A few more extended moments of Graney glory - replete with cabaret noir electronica- and theres the celebration of 70s sharpie culture in “Oakleigh Bowie Blues” and the bizarre intergalactic neo-counter cultural revolution of “2068 babe”.
The cover art of “Knock Yourself Out” is illuminating- Graneys head superimposed on a boxers athletic figure, the boxers glove swiping so ungainly that it collects Graney’s head . Dave Graney isa s much a boxer as Joe Bugner is an obtuse punk rocker; but Graney’s knocking himself out with original - and lateral- artistic moves that leave the staid mainstream musical world for dead. To borrow a line from Graney’s contemporary- is Dave Graney man or myth? Six of one, and half a dozen of the other.
Patrick Emery- BEAT magazine Melbourne. June 2009

Soft 'n' sexy beats of Mr Dave Graney
Dave Graney
Knock Yourself Out
Label: Cockaigne / Fuse Music

Inpress senior contributors, staff writers, the Group Managing Editor were all cast asunder as my man-crush rage cut a path of destruction to get the latest instalment of the Dave Graney show – a new solo album. An instant pang of journalistic regret hit me – where do you start when reviewing Dave Graney, an artiste in every sense of the word.
Maybe start with the album cover art, surely contender for cover of the year. The cover of Knock Yourself Out has Graney cast as a superbly chiselled pugilist (no Photoshop here; much) delivering himself the proverbial uppercut. So begins the intellectual artistry; visually Graney is literal, however the Knock Yourself Out concept lays in the Aussie vernacular of encouraging you to go your hardest. As always that is exactly what Graney does with another unique delivery from this master musician and cunning linguist.
Musically and lyrically, as with most of Graney’s work, it is an aural feast. A departure in sound from last year’s amazing jazzified R&B-inspired We Wuz Curious; there are still certain similarities. The no-nonsense storytelling style of Graney and still seeped in jazz this release is seedier, dirtier, laced with electro beats, funk and hot fuzzy guitar licks. Though a solo album, Graney still gets by with a little help from his “Lurid” friends: collaborating partner, Clare Moore providing drums and beats, Stu Thomas leaving his heavy bass footprints and the dynamite Stu Perera on lead guitar.
The opening title track is a cracker and sums up both Graney and this album, full of bravado (or is it self-deprecation?) with killer lines, “as a concept, I know! Incredible! But I’m a reality!” and “I am the best, shit high in a pan full of turds”. The smooth, mellow It Was Then Or Never harks back to Graney’s “Soft’n’Sexy Sounds” before giving way to the sleaze of personal fave, Bodysnatcher Blues that could easily feature in a scene from a David Lynch film. Ambiguity abounds in I Need My Guitar, “I wanna run my fingers across the fretboard”, yet there are Graney’s straightforth views in the cutting Dylan The Indie Fake, Throwin’ One Into The World (enough said) and another key track the brilliantly witty Sellout! Other standouts are Honky Tonk Rope A Dope and So Easy.
My panic in terms of reviewing is simply that Graney is genre defying; and many just don’t get him, but those who do - get him in a big way. I’m always loath to use press info but I’m making an exception as this puts it succinctly, “It’s not generic, it’s not rootsy, it’s not pop – it’s Dave Graney music”. Yes, yes it is, in all its delicious glory.
The Boomeister Inpress Magazine- Melbourne June 2009

 

The Lurid Yellow Mist’s cool  soundtrack for “ we wuz curious” has made way for a 70s Americana acid groove swing,and although its billed as a solo effort, the Mists Clare Moore, Stuart Perera and Stu Thomas appear on KYO. They are a tight band, and with Graney’s chameleon qualities, oscillate from the Iggy Pop via David Lynch film score of “bodysnatcher blues” , the cinematic “So Easy’ to the dark glam disco of “Dylan the Indie Fake”.
Graney is a modern zeitgeist (dare I say it) , almost Bowie-esque. The wonderfully epic “2068 Babe” closes the album with fuzz guitars,electronica and a chorus of tropical birds. Its a little bit Goldfrapp, kind of Hendrix, with a touch of Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders, but in execution is pure Graney.
Catherine Gale- Advocate - Tasmania.

Dave Graney is a strange beast. His 1995 ARIA win should have, by all rights, been followed by either his election to the office of Prime Minister, or his stoning to death in the streets. Such an odd bird may not be seen by the likes of Australian music again until after a nuclear winter, or some sort of technological singularity. Get in while the getting’s good.
Constructed differently to Graney’s previous 20-something efforts, Knock Yourself Out lets the rhythm of each track dictate the tune, instead of traditional chord structures and melodies, technically making it a hip hop record. But while the beat may drive the songwriting process, Graney’s rambling vocal style still holds court, mixed loud so that you can hear his amazing and ridiculous diatribes. Taking cues from Sly Stone, and floating bizarrely between modern and historic R&B, Graney plays all but a few instruments on the album, his long time musical and personal partner Clare Moore handling the majority of rhythmical work, and Lurid Yellow Mist cohorts Stu Thomas and Stu Perera adding the occasional flourish.
Knock Yourself Out is a cocky record, with Graney quoting The Time’s Morris Day, claiming “As a concept, I know! Incredible! But I’m a reality!” before name-checking his own releases. “I never tapped out,” he says, referring to the general catch-and-release attitude of popular media and his decade-and-a-half old brush with national prominence. The terrifying trip that is ‘Bodysnatcher Blues’ is worth the price of admission alone.
Australian music generates some of the most bizarre and unique artists in the world, and while Graney may take many of his traits from a variety of sources, there’s only one King of Pop.
TIME OFF- Brisbane-Tal Wallace

 

From the start, there was never any chance that this was going to be a normal show. In an atrium space upstairs in the Ian Potter Gallery (the one tucked into the back of Federation Square), between a bar and a hugely popular John Brack exhibition, a small stage has been set up. It includes a lectern, for the first part of the evening’s entertainment – Dave Graney talking about the art of songwriting.
He talks widely, without notes, and he talks well. Dressed in his usual black leather, he riffs on his childhood, the influence of TV, his love of words (especially the separate glossaries of crime fiction and cheap erotica) and reads from a selection of his favourite books.
He admits that for a long time his lyrics were a construct for his true self to hide behind. “I wanted people to listen to and think about what I was saying, but not realise that it wasn’t the real me talking. I was trying to distract people from my real interests, and sell them the surface.” There is also some revealing discussion about his fondness for the fine art of self-mythologising, whether it’s being done by him or others.
The talk closes as the rest of the band joins him onstage for ‘Lament’, a Jim Morrison poem that features on the posthumous American Prayer LP. It’s not entirely clear whether this is tongue-in-cheek. With Graney it’s sometimes hard to tell.
The musical component of the show introduces a few tracks from the forthcoming LP Knock Yourself Out. These have never been played live before, and at times the band seems to be feeling their way around them a little. It doesn’t help that the volume tonight has to be muted fairly severely to cope with the public nature of the space. ‘Sell Out’, ‘It Was Then Or Never’ and ‘Honky Tonk Rope-A-Dope’ are the only titles offered, and they are solid tunes that sit well with the We Wuz Curious material.
Ducking out for a cigarette during the show puts you in a small but elegant bamboo garden, overlooking the Yarra River, while the trip back upstairs lets you experience the sound of the Lurid Yellow Mist echoing through about a billion dollars worth of public architecture.
‘You Had To be Drunk’ makes more sense when you understand it’s about coping with teenage life in Mount Gambier, and by the time they finish with ‘Let’s Kill God Again’, the volume has crept up and they are truly shaking the place.
It’s hard to pick a favorite moment from all this – the octogenarian art lovers who tottered out of the elevator as Graney was reading aloud from Iceberg Slim’s Pimp’s Credo, or the posse of schoolgirls who were transfixed by the repeated, “Are you fucking with me?” line from ‘Bring Me My Liar’? Whatever. I don’t know about art but I know what I like.
by Trevor Block
Mess and Noise - May 2009

I wote an article for mess and Noise here.....


 

Dave Graney is a rare Australian treasure. In a career spanning over 20 years he's released a million albums, worn many safari suits and approached the music industry with a strange mix of irony, disdain and wide-eyed enthusiasm. In other words, he's done things on his own terms.
Knock Yourself Out is the title of his latest LP and it continues Graney's idiosyncratic tradition. Melding jazz, pop, R&B and lounge, it could be seen as a continuation of the style he showcased on his previous LP, We Wuz Curious. Sure, the album titles are strange, but he's earned the right to be as weird as he wants to be after 30 odd years of releases.
Dave Graney and The Coral Snakes is probably his best known incarnation and their 1995 album, The Soft and Sexy Sound of..., earned him an ARIA Award for Best Male Vocalist. He was nominated again the following year. Since then, Graney has run through several new bands, a number of Safari suits, a lifetime's worth of bad puns and quite a few albums. For better or worse, there's no one else quite like him in Australian music circles.
FAIRFAX City Search - Mikolai, June 2009
Knock Yourself Out
Dave Graney calls his new solo album “a filthy R‘n’B set, or an electro boogie album”. It’s also an exhilarating musical trip. The title-track sets the scene, with the one-time King of Pop name-checking his previous releases and declaring: “I’m a volunteer, nobody asked me to be so great.” Graney comes across as part rapper, part boxer, talking the talk, but is he capable of maintaining the quality over a 12-round title fight? You bet! As he states, “The world deserves something great once in a while”. Knock yourself out.
COCKAIGNE/FUSE
MAG- Jeff Jenkins

notices 4 Keepin it unreal
review for we wuz curious?

notices 4 Hashish and Liquor

Here are some stories and interviews about KYO

 

a short bio of Clare and David