JAMES CURD with BABY JOEL SMYE and LOOPITY GOOFS at Spin Gallery (1100 Queen West), Friday (December 8). $15 w/ RSVP to email@example.com, more without. Rating: NNNNN
Even though it's no longer that unusual to see dance music and rock co-existing these days, there's still a strong tendency to put artists on one side of the fence or the other, often depending more on what they used to do rather than what the music actually sounds like.
Chicago's Greenskeepers are among those slotted onto the dance side due to their early days as a quirky house music duo, despite the fact that their current album, Polo Club (Om), sounds like it would be more at home in the new wave section.
"It's weird. We'll do this whole rock album that's totally electronic rock, all live instruments, everything, but people still say, 'Hey, Greenskeepers the house band is making rock music.' I think we should be labelled as a band that makes a bunch of different kinds of music," complains James Curd.
"A lot of the guys in the band grew up playing rock. I'm the only one who grew up being a DJ and making electronic music. Everyone else grew up doing funk and punk."
The Greenskeepers wouldn't have ended up where they are, though, without that association. Curd had been DJing in clubs and warehouse parties since he was 15, and the early Greenskeepers singles were still rooted in that world even when they were chopping up old swing tunes into club thumpers. On their newest release, they included a bonus CD of Curd DJing a collection of remixes and Greenskeepers-related house music.
"We wanted to cover all the bases. You know, everyone has known Greenskeepers for a long time for house music, and we wanted to give those people who like the house stuff we do something on the album and introduce them slowly to our other stuff. If someone is more into the rock side, they'll like the first one and use the other for a coaster."
It's not as if this album should come as a surprise to anyone familiar with them. The past two full-lengths had very little in common with straight-up house, sounding more like very eclectic mix tapes that happened to include some dance beats. This time around, they are a real four-piece band and actually sound like one.
Nick Maurer's vocals have a much more prominent place, and the spacey stuff has been trimmed away in favour of concise pop structures. It's clear from the bonus CD that house music is still a big part of who Greenskeepers are, but the gap between their two sides is getting wider and wider.