2007’s lack of particular great offerings wasn’t helped by the majority of music blogs underselling some of the best stuff released that year. Aesop Rock’s None Shall Pass was one of the man’s best albums, but most blogs were all like “it’s okay, I guess” before retreating back to praising Sound of Silver and The Magic Position. Grindstone was among the quality works lost in the shuffle, and to be honest, I’m not sure why.
I can cut some slack based on the group’s background and genre, but…well, Shining are a Norwegian experimental jazz-rock outfit, which should be as enticing to Pitchfork as Migos and Future teaming up on a diss track against Miley Cyrus. That said, working in a fusion of rock and jazz means Shining don’t make music you can chill out to—the closest Grindstone gets to being relaxing are two tracks titled “To Be Proud of Crystal Colors is to Live Again”, which sound like a baby’s lullaby as written by Pennywise (the clownspiderIT, not the band). Otherwise, Shining play with poise and spirit, whether they are composing a ballet (“Moonchild Mindgames”), making rock songs not unlike mid-Aughts Dillinger Escape Plan (“In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster”), or freaking the fuck out on horns (“The Red Room”).
I suppose one problem with talking about music made in this style is that there isn’t much to say to describe it. There are parts that are less ferocious, but this is basically forty-five minutes of a band making a bold statement about their technical capabilities on tracks that are too well-composed to be entirely freeform. There’s nothing here to break down from a lyrical standpoint, either. A handful of songs have lyrics, but most of Grindstone is an instrumental album and the few words spoken here are little besides aggressive phrases uttered like a dog’s bark. Battles’s Mirrored had more lyrical worth, and I still can’t understand what’s being said on that album.
Perhaps 2007 was actually a low-key great year with no lack of fantastic music that damn near every blog just missed. What I know for sure is that I prefer Grindstone to Mirrored and that only one of those two was being discussed by 90% of blogs at the end of the year. What I’m trying to say is that all music blogs suck except for this one. Yeah, that’s the lesson here.VERDICT: OWN
Read past editions of Own It or Disown It.