The Thin Man
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The Thin Man

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Chicago, Illinois, United States
Band Alternative Rock

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Accordion-pumper extraordinaire Kennedy Greenrod beefs up his Thin Man tunes with a smorgasboard of carnival sweetmeats including screwball cabaret waltzes and Texas jukebox soul. Combining the giddy leprechaun bounce of Gogol Bordello with Tom Waits' pickled-in -gin larynx, Greenrod slurps his words like hot soup and licks the novelty bowl clean. - Magnet


This is the first out-of-nowhere delight of 2005. Kennedy Greenrod, aka, The Thin Man, shanghais you on a leaky ship with creaky wood that moans sorrowful tales of violence and loves lost as the grimy sailors huddle around the captain's accordion and eye each other suspiciously. Greenrod's voice is a perfect anchor, his Cohenesque groan ably backed by a timeless fugue of cello and guitar. - Greenville Link


Every once in a while, an album comes along that permeates such a distinct atmosphere, saturated in and of its own world, that it seems to live a life of its own. It is at that point that I marvel at what sounds can create.
The Thin Man is cool like that. - Now Wave


...one of the city's hidden treasures.
It deserves to be heard coast to coast, live or on record, for Chicago has renewed cause to brag and share. - Pop Matters


Armed with accordions, guitars, banjos, cellos and the occasional flugelhorn, Greenrod and his Windy City cohorts summon the ghosts of Johnny Cash and "Rain Dogs" era Tom Waits, resulting in a terrific sideshow specializing in country-folk reflection and boot-stomping tarantellas. There's a cinematic quality - the tasty opener, "til the Good Lord Shows His Face" sounds like a lost song from Robert Altman's "Popeye"- that seeps through the records many dusty staircases and broken floorboards, providing an ambience that complements Greenrod's lazy Robtn Hitchcock meets Mark Sandman drawl. - All Music Guide


An Undertaker Muses...
A loping sing-along with a Brit whose tone is so dry that buzzards start circling while he sings about saving his pennies to put on your eyes - Spin


The Thin Man
Greasy Heart (2005, Contraphonic)

I was reading Time magazine the other day and an article headline ran “The Thin Man Expands Coverage For Kids.” The article was actually about the governor of Arkansas but the coincidence and accuracy of the headline is astounding. The Thin Man’s debut, HMS Mondegreen was wonderfully murky mix of dark carnival tunes and creepy sea shanties. This time around the accordion and slower tempos are set aside and what was once a ghostly skeleton crew becomes a full-fledged, fully developed project.

The galloping opener, “My City”, immediately parts the fog of previous efforts, with guitar lines rolling along, deep horns accentuating the beat, and Kenny Greenrod’s brightest sounding vocals yet. “Baby Please” is unique in that it simultaneously has a mariner pop and show review sound at the same time. “Molly O” just blows the doors off the barn outright, probably one of the best Americana stomps I’ve heard in a long time, even with the weird, tone-bending effects sticking in once or twice. “Louisiana Death Ride” is just as it sounds: a merry-go-round gone haywire, speeding beyond control. For those yearning for Thin Man’s ballads, it's supplied as well. The accordion comes out on “Picnic” and his voice once again becomes a heavy, longing drawl. Slow-burner “The Wrong Song” adds backing vocals and horns with great effect, implying a more epic image than you'd expect from a dank tavern ballad. Tom Waits and Nick Cave fans look no further. For those who have not yet warmed up to “Murder Ballads” and the like, here’s your captivating, PG-13 introduction.

The Thin Man have widened their appeal, and while the general indie snob rule equates accessibility with a lack of artistic merit, it just simply isn't the case here. A superior album in almost every respec - BeatTheIndieDrum.com


Listening to Chicago's The Thin Man has always been for me as much a visual experience as an aural one. Live, of course, frontman Kennedy Greenrod cuts an imposing figure: the definition of lanky, thrusting his chin forward to spit at the microphone, elbows punching out at odd angles from his accordion. But on record, The Thin Man's songs conjure a world designed by a committee of Bertolt Brecht, Charles Dickens, and Al Capone. It's a world where the greasy heart in question alludes not only to a lover's dark motives or the main intersection of a dank metropolis, but the organ itself, still throbbing in a bucket of giblets, bloody and tactile.

Greasy Heart, the band's third full-length, is the best yet at drawing you, or yanking you, into its dangerous world to the point where you want to tear up your ticket home. In fact, Greenrod plays tour guide on the very first line of "My City": "Taking the bus to the greasy heart of my city" and the ride doesn't stop for 40 minutes. The record is full of action, from the white-knuckle ride of "Molly O" to the playful jerk of "An Undertaker Muses...", built on the aggressive rhythm section of bassist Jason LaBrosse and drummer Mike McGrath, and Greenrod's aggressive penchant for verbs. The characters inhabiting the lyrics aren't tangled up in solipsism; they "clean toilets to bring you wine" and "fix you where you need fixin'".

The musical parentage of The Thin Man includes gypsy, punk, western country, and good ole barroom rock. "Baby Please" gives glimpses of each in a terse two and a half minutes, featuring Saleem Dhamee's snaky lead guitar lines, and some of Greenrod's most startling observations. Feel how hard it is to lift up your jaw after hearing "Somebody once said that / Time can be your friend / Just like Hitler, he loved children", timed perfectly with the song's backbeat. Its shock never loses impact for its delightful naughtiness, just as later, "I saw you with him in the park just yesterday / In matching tracksuits, it wasn't that cute" always tickles.

"Molly O" sets itself up as "One more hard luck story / One more tale full of woe", but it's anything but. The hard-driving centerpiece of Greasy Heart gets its power from the snarling repetition of every fourth line, in which an abusive relationship is dangled over an uncertain resolution. Its characters could be the chambermaid and handsome banker of "My City", the tracksuit-wearing couple of "Baby Please", but most definitely the "unsafe sex practitioners" of "An Undertaker Muses…". After a brutal fight, "He's whistling as he exits / She's lying on the floor / He thinks he won't pay the piper / Cos he's the Law, he's the Law, he's the Law." The song doesn't excuse, condone, denounce, or pity its players -- it gives them to you straight, letting you monitor your own adrenaline levels while you choose your own best, or most plausible ending, "Maybe she'll trash the apartment / Pack a bag, get a bus, leave town / Maybe she'll get a pistol and lay her man in the ground / Maybe she'll just sit back and wait / For her man to come back around."

But if your concern is that there's too much grease and not enough heart here, I should explain "Marching Through the House of Love with Dirty Boots", an Old World, red wine and soft cheese dripping litany of devotion: "I'm gonna stand on the beaches and curse all the waves / I'm gonna capture the insects and have a parade / I'm gonna drink with the blind man and fall down his stairs / I'm gonna teach all the starlings to sing out your name / We're gonna celebrate the day you were made." How in hell can you say no to that?

— 6 January 2006 - Pop Matters


Discography

" A Cloud in Trousers" CD
"H.M.S. Mondegreen" CD
"Greasy Heart" CD
"Spectres" CD

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Bio

Like gospel that spreads from tavern to tavern, ship to ship, town to town, the music of The Thin Man resonates outwards towards an always-heedful mass. The Thin Man's songs are midnight lullabies and daydream fantasies, literate tales that spin their maxims in tapestries of velvet chords, minor accordion keys, rousing R&B arrangements, and rollicking guitars. Infused with an inspired whiskey wit and sharp eye that careens out into the endless sea of the City, The Thin Man gives voice to the vice of observation.

The Thin Man came to life as a solo project of Kennedy Greenrod, who had left his native England, relocated to Chicago (after a stint in California) and acquired an accordion. His original vision of a one-man-band-on-a-bicycle careening down the Magnificent Mile playing Magnificent Music for the Magnificent met with grave technical difficulties and was scrapped.

Instead, The Thin Man was assembled with a cast of the best and brightest players in town (among them members of Smog and We Ragazzi) and emerged with the debut album A Cloud in Trousers. It delighted critics and audiences alike, contributing to a string of sold-out shows with The Blacks, Firewater, Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire, and Jim White, establishing the band as a powerful live act.

In mid-2004, The Thin Man unearthed HMS Mondegreen, a swashbuckling album that once again saw Mr. Greenrod surrounded by some of Chicago's finest musicians (members of Grimble Grumble and Manishevitz), resplendent with lap steel, cellos, trumpets, and banjos. College radio began to incessantly play HMS' tracks, and All Music Guide and Magnet led the praise parade. The current line-up of Greenrod, Saleem Dhamee, Jason LaBrosse, and Mike McGrath hit the road to increasing response.

On November 15, Contraphonic Music excitedly introduces The Thin Man's Greasy Heart. Their third album is a love-song serenade to picnics, smokers, drinkers, whiskey rivers, lost lovers, old-age, crooked tales, hangings, beatings, mischief, the City, all the stories that surround us in overlooked nooks, lost history books and backdoor bars. As Greasy Heart slithers into your own heart, The Thin Man will be coming to your town to make sure it stays for keeps.