Knock Yourself Out
Loops, dirty R&B, funk licks and beat poetry. A.H. CAYLEY finds a
hint of modern noir in Dave Graneys '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.
Hes moved on since his last album, the Lurid Yellow Mists
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. Its about
the voice and the beat. There are loops, dirty R&B rhythms, funk licks
and the contemporary beat poetry of Graneys 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 its 5.08 long,
and backed here by Clare Moores musical input in a groove
she brewed up (as she did for almost every song).
Some of Graneys appeal lies in his possession of a strange
vocal talent that always makes it seem as though he is singing directly
Some of Graneys 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 its
being whispered heavily into you ear at least it did in mine. Perhaps
thats 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 Ive 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/Hes 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. Were left without a conclusion.
Fuck it make your own.
Knock Yourself Out certainly leaves an impression. Its an intelligent,
audio pleasure. Its 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
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
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
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
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 Pereras
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 Graneys 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
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 50s 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
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 Graneys head . Dave Graney isa s much
a boxer as Joe Bugner is an obtuse punk rocker; but Graneys knocking
himself out with original - and lateral- artistic moves that leave the
staid mainstream musical world for dead. To borrow a line from Graneys
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
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 Graneys work, it is an
aural feast. A departure in sound from last years 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 Im 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 Graneys SoftnSexy
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 Graneys 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 dont get him, but those who do - get him in a big
way. Im always loath to use press info but Im making an exception
as this puts it succinctly, Its not generic, its not
rootsy, its not pop its Dave Graney music. Yes,
yes it is, in all its delicious glory.
The Boomeister Inpress Magazine- Melbourne June 2009
The Lurid Yellow Mists 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 Graneys
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 gettings good.
Constructed differently to Graneys 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,
Graneys 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
Knock Yourself Out is a cocky record, with Graney quoting The Times
Morris Day, claiming As a concept, I know! Incredible! But Im
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, theres 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 evenings 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 wasnt 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 its 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.
Its not entirely clear whether this is tongue-in-cheek. With Graney
its 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
doesnt 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 its
about coping with teenage life in Mount Gambier, and by the time they
finish with Lets Kill God Again, the volume has crept
up and they are truly shaking the place.
Its 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 Slims Pimps 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 dont know about
art but I know what I like.
by Trevor Block
Mess and Noise - May 2009
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 RnB
set, or an electro boogie album. Its 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: Im
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
MAG- Jeff Jenkins