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the words people say

Brand new press for "San Malo!"
"the graves brothers combine near-suicidal excess with hairpin-turn discipline to create
the most confounding and commanding rock album of the year."
– John Shelton ivany


Graves Brothers Deluxe

San Malo

(Green Cookie)


The Graves Brothers Deluxe, out of San Francisco, is maybe the best band you never heard of, a bass-heavy, Beefheart-bent trio, reared on a steady diet of punk rock, New Orleans funk and late night jazz. Stoo Odom, a veteran of Thin White Rope and Subarachnoid Space, leads from the low-end, thumping hallucinatory, harried bass grooves while whispering sinisterly overtop. He's supported by Noel Redding's old touring band, long-time compatriots Willie the Mailman on guitar and sax, and Marco Villalobos on drums.


San Malo is the Graves Brothers' first album since Hurricane Katrina turned Odom's life upside down, and, as such, is darker, bleaker, more devastating (and devasted) in its black-hearted humor. A New Orleans native, Odom spent days searching for his mother and elderly stepfather after the storm. His stepfather had been in the hospital for spinal surgery when Katrina hit and was eventually evacuated to Houston... though it was some time before anyone told Odom about it. The storm turns up periodically throughout the album, both as a metaphor (usually for love) and as its own massively destructive real-world self. It's evident in the slinky, skanky, krautishly driving "Five Foot Category Five," in a heart "never built to code" in "My Heart Burned Down" and in a general aura of grin-and-bear-it survival. "I'm fine," Odom leers repeatedly, though in the song of the same name, he is tethered to battered IV lines and anything but fine.


All this makes San Malo sound like a downer, but, in fact, it is manically entertaining. The bass and drums lock into distended, body-moving grooves. The guitar sets off little firestorms of pedal-effected mayhem. The lyrics curl up into smoke-clouds of surreal, elliptical imagery. It's a party fueled by world's last functioning generator, a little giddy, a little desperate and ultimately doomed...but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable while it lasts. #San Malo# is certainly brutal and unsparing, but also, in a weird way, extremely fun - a difficult balance, but one worth striking.


DOWNLOAD: "San Malo National Anthem", "Five Foot Category Five", "I'm Fine" JENNIFER KELLY


OX FANZINE (Germany):


Eine wilde Mischung aus Psychdelic, Psycho, Rock, Surf und Konzept liegt dem Album zugrunde. Vor allem gibt es sogar eine Story, die die Songs nacherzählen, sie berichten von der versunkenen Piratenstadt San Malo.

Dabei sind die Geschichten der Songs sehr schräg, könnten manchmal ein wenig mehr zurücktreten hinter dem Sound. Am besten sind die zurückgehaltenen Gitarren, die auf einen Einsatz warten, zögern und sich dann langsam in den Vordergrund spielen und mit ihrem Sound manchmal unberechtigterweise hinter dem Gesang zurückbleiben.

Und dann sind da die Tracks, wo die Gitarren sich fast wie THE SURFARIS anhören, und dann wieder so freie Improvisationen, dass man an Noise erinnert wird. Eigentlich müsste man es unter Psychedlic-Surf einordnen, wenn es die Kategorie geben würde.

Ein cooles Fusion-Album der skizzierten Genres, für jeden Geschmack ist etwas dabei und zu einem neuen Süppchen zusammengebrutzelt. Manchem mag es vielleicht ein wenig zu viel an Zutaten sein, aber man kann es gut anhören!
GRAVES BROTHERS DELUXE triumph with San Malo with deep dark basement sounds thumping their way thru your consciousness. There are serious grooves so turn the lights to dim, switch yur brain off, ‘n strobe out…
FILEUNDER (Netherlands):
Eigenlijk verbaast het me dat The Graves Brothers Deluxe  een niet al te grote naam is in bandjesland. Het kwartet uit San Francisco doet namelijk vreselijk hun best om niet te klinken zoals al die andere bandjes. Dit doen ze door allerlei stijlen te mixen. Aanvankelijk lijkt het op hun derde schijf San Malo om post-rock te gaan, maar al snel worden er andere wegen bewandeld. Er is bijvoorbeeld veel variatie door de mix van new wave, noise, jazz, blues, psychedelica en avant-garde. Toch is er een grote overeenkomst tussen alle stijlen: ze klinken 'dirty'. San Malo is door de afwisseling geen gemakkelijk album, maar wel een album waarop je nieuwe dingen blijft ontdekken en dat is wat mij betreft heel wat waard. Vreemd genoeg wordt dit album uitgebracht op een Grieks label, maar dat het al uitgebracht wordt, is al heel wat waard. Het zou namelijk zonde zijn als we hiervan verstoken waren gebleven. Nederland doen ze trouwens eenmalig aan. Om precies te zijn staan ze (gratis te zien!) op 18 juni in de Patronaat in Haarlem. Als ik in de buurt woonde dan ging ik zeker kijken, maar drie uur reizen lijkt me dan weer wat overdreven. Al ben ik zeer benieuwd wat ze er live van weten te maken. 
Graves Brothers Deluxe - San Malo
by Gary Schwind

I first encountered Graves Brothers Deluxe a couple years ago on a split with Boxcar Satan, so I kind of knew what I was getting when the new album San Malo arrived. That being said, the band is not any easier to classify than it was at first. I know this much. If you are looking for 3-minute pop nuggets, keep looking.

The guitar on this album is rather hypnotic, particularly in the first couple tracks. Frankly, if you can think of a better word for the guitar on "I'm Fine," I'd love to hear it. When this song is playing, it doesn't feel so much like you are listening to it, but rather that it is washing over you. The distorted guitar and the uptempo drums seem to surround you. The band follows that with "Splinters," one of a couple songs that features some skronking saxophone. Maybe it's the saxophone, and maybe it's the lyrics, or quite possibly, it's the utter chaos, but something about this song feels a bit like beat poetry. Performed by Captain Beefheart. An even better example of that beat poetry feel is "Song for Mating Mailmen." (And you thought no one would ever write a song for that particular group of people.) It is real easy to imagine some guy in a beret with a French cigarette hanging from his lips reciting a poem while this song plays in the background. Perhaps there is no better example of the difficult to describe quality than "Papio Papio (the Swamp Ape Again)." This is just a song with all-out blazing energy and a fair amount of discord. I doubt you have too many songs like this one on your iPod.

The thing about this band and this album is that as you go through it, you realize you're hearing something completely different. You'll probably also realize that you won't really know how to explain this album to your friends. But let's face it, that's one of the great things about music: passing along music that is truly different and perhaps a little challenging to listen to. I mean, if everyone sounded like a Grammy winner (that is to say, bland and safe), music wouldn't be worth exploring. Suffice it to say that if you explore music that is not easily pigeonholed or compared, this is a band and an album that you'll want to check out.



The Graves Brothers Deluxe - San Malo (

Not only is “San Malo” inventive, but it’s also an enjoyable throwback to bands like Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Southern Culture on the Skids, or any of those cool-as-fuck, demi-punk garagey bands. You know what I mean, like the bands who’s vinyl albums you have a hard time trying to get rid of, because you know they’ll never come up with a band as eclectic as they are.

Enthusiasm and melody are certainly not a problem here. Songs like “I’m Fine,” “Vulture Sing,” or “Noisy King of Nothing” are low-brow, compressed with high energy, and have a polite blowtorch vocals that could boil over at any minute.
When the tempo slows down on numbers like “Vulture Sing,” or “My Heart Burned Down Today,” they draw you in like a hypnotist.- Tantalizing, taunt, and tight.

The Graves Brothers Deluxe’s pull out all the stops for the neo-psychedelic, spiderwebed sound of “Noisy Kind of Nothing.” A running bass line (just about every song here), is dominate, but not forceful, and is well supported by a pulsating drum kit, marked by cymbal rolls and floor tom flourishes.
Playing with punky venom, but without pop slickness, the band’s goth-horror edge offers doses of humor, and tongue-in-cheek-truths.

Bands like The Graves Brothers Deluxe are sometimes viewed as a novelty act, but they easily avoid such trappings by remaining uniquely cool. “Song for Mating Mailmen” squashes any thought of pigeon-holing this band. Creative and fun, it’s time to turn off the TV, unplug the video games, and tune into something unique and original!

Graves Brothers Deluxe - San Malo (Greek import CD, Green Cookie, Progressive)
So many bands either go for a total pop/rock approach...or experimental music so weird that it alienates most listeners. The guys in Graves Brothers Deluxe manage to tread on the fine line that separates both worlds. The band has been very busy over the past few years recording their own music and working with a wild array of different artists in all kinds of different mediums. San Malo is right up there with the Brothers' best recordings. Some of these tracks are moody distorted pop/rock...while others feature more abstract sounds and ideas. Interestingly, the album is being released on the Greek Green Cookie label. Strange how many cool credible American bands find far more support in other countries (?). Ten groovy cuts here that glide all over the audio map. Our favorite tracks include "I'm Fine," "My Heart Burned Down Today," "The Ballad of San Malo," and "Noisy Kind of Nothing." Another killer release from one of the true American classic underground bands. TOP PICK.


Schwindy's indie music spotlight: Graves Brothers Deluxe (4 of 5 stars)

Let's start this off with a little quiz. Choose the best answer. You know you are an indie music artist when:

a. You play a gig for a dozen or fewer people.
b. You sell your merchandise from the back of a van.
c. You end up on a Greek record label.

OK, I don't know exactly how Graves Brothers Deluxe ended up on Green Cookie Records from Thessaloniki, Greece. However, it's not surprising to me that the band couldn't find a label in the US. This is a band that plays the antithesis of 3-minute pop songs. San Malo is a collection of songs that includes a lot of heavily distorted, hypnotic guitar, and skronking saxophone. Oh, and lyrics that sound like they should be recited by some beat poet smoking a French cigarette and topping off an all-black outfit with a black beret. Either that or Captain Beefheart. A couple examples of the sort of far-out beat feel are "Splinters" and especially the last song on the album, "Song for Mating Mailmen." Yes, someone wrote a song for mating mailmen. (It's about time.) And yes, it's easy to imagine this song being the backdrop for someone's poetry reading.

But that isn't even the song I would classify as the most unusual on the album. That designation belongs to "Papio Papio (the Swamp Ape Again)." This song has tremendous energy. And tremendous discord. This is not the sort of song you play for people who enjoy the Grammys. Well, it is if you want to chase that person away. Trust me, I don't mean that in a negative way. I mean, quite simply that this song is the perfect antithesis of all things Grammy and pop.

I have never seen your music collection, but I think it is fair to assume that you don't have many albums like this in your collection. According to the one-sheet, this is a "post-Katrina retelling of St. Malo, Louisiana, a swamp village founded in 1763 by Filipino deserters of Spanish galleons." All I can say is that if this is the soundtrack of a village, it must be one really unusual place. WARNING: This album will take some getting used to. It's not one that you can sit down with and immediately start singing along. But if you ask me, it's this sort of album that makes music worth exploring. The musical world would be pretty dull if every band played easily digestible pop songs. Graves Brothers Deluxe most certainly does not. If you are looking for something different, and a little challenging, give this album a try. I think you'll find it's worth the challenge.


THE GRAVES BROTHERS DELUXE / San Malo CD / Green Cookie Records / 2009

Brilliant bad-attitude rock expertly produced by L.A. legends Geza X and Paul Roessler. World-weary in a totally pissed-off way that’s also very funny, with some of the tastiest slide guitar I’ve heard in years. BONUS: Features PCR ace DJ STOO ODUM on stringed instruments, vocals, and way-offbeat songwriting.


1 “San Malo National Anthem” (instrumental goodness)
4 “Five Foot Category Five” (ambivalence defined)
6 “My Heart Burned Down Today” (catchy and danceable – a hit!)

The Graves Brothers Deluxe, “San Malo” (Green Cookie Records) Rating: 4 TCB’s
 I kept scratching my head on this one. I love it, no question about it, but I was puzzled at why I was so drawn in. Then it hit me. The stripped down, beat driven arrangements and haunting lyrics remind me of the late great Mark Sandman and his jazz/experimental work with Morphine. If you can imagine a musical stew of Morphine, Beck and Wall of Voodoo with a pinch of Gang Of Four and the Sex Pistols thrown in. Now picture Frank Zappa stirring the pot then you’re about halfway there.
This album is the musical re-telling of a swamp village in Louisiana founded in 1763 by Filipino deserters of the Spanish galleons. Heady stuff indeed but these guys not only pull it off, they’ve created an album that the listener can really sink their teeth into for years to come. This isn’t disposable music that loses its flavor after a few listenings.
 “Five Foot Category Five” has an eerie swamp groove that will have you checking the skies and battening down the hatches. “My Heart Burned Down Today” sounds a bit like the Sex Pistols “Submission” covered by a young Talking Heads. “The Ballad Of San Malo” is a mesmerizing personal favorite. Highly recommended stuff.
The Big Takeover > essays
by Chris Stroffolino
16 January 2010
The Graves Brothers Deluxe were one of the first three rock bands I got into when I moved to the Bay Area, the only one not named after a front-man (in contrast to Kelley Stoltz and fellow Mississippi Exile, Hudson Bell), and the only one for which I jumped around in an Apesuit, on our package shows for the now defunct Good Forks record label (before my accident).
Always one of the most danceable of the Bay Area bands, the band’s first release in 5 years, SAN MALO, and their first on Greece’s GREEN COOKIErecords (an implicit commentary on the paucity of quality/viable Bay Area independent labels), has even tighter grooves, from the rhythm section of Marco Villalobos and Stoo Odom, while stepping their “noise rock” jams up a notch; the glorious melodic cacophony of Willie The Mailman’s (ex-Residents ) sinuous and jagged guitar/saxophone lines recall Albert Ayler, as “backed” by the rhythm section of The Minutemen, if not Firehose). Perhaps it’s a result of 5 years of touring since 2005’s FILTER FEEDERS, or their work on the MAHIKARI album (Birdman 2008), with Japanese noise-rock legends SEIICHI YAMOMOTO and MAKOTO KAWABATA, but many of the tracks on SAN MALO have a much more expansive instrumentalization, while the words—-never a central aspect to GBD—-take even more of a backseat. Perhaps because GBD’s singer is first and foremost its bassist, the words are usually only important insofar as they call attention, often playfully, to the inadequacy of words, as on FILTER FEEDER’s “…And The Conversation Turned To Sex” or SAN MALO’s “Noisy Kind Of Nothing.”
At the same time, San Malo is the most melodic, and tuneful LP in the GBD’s catalogue—-not that melody was ever that important for GBD. But, with the addition of Allison Lovejoy on keyboards, many of the new GBDcompositions are much more “college radio” friendly, without sacrificing anything about what makes them such an engaging live band. I recently sat down with Stoo Odom to talk about GBD and his work with Nara Denning. Here’s some videos.
“It came from the Id,”

Interview, with Stoo and Nara

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