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13 January 2013

Album Review: Grabbel & the Final Cut. Get Your Feet Back on the Ground EP (Captured Tracks, 2012).

When The Sun Hits 
Grabbel and The Final Cut's
Get Your Feet Back On The Ground EP
(& very belatedly posts said review) 

Released by Captured Tracks
January 2012
review by: 
Anne Marie Taal de Neergaard
foreword by:
Amber Crain 

The Foreword (Amber Crain):
I'm not usually one for forewords, but this piece calls for one, because it's an example of writing that is so spot-on, it's its own case in point. Let me elaborate, since that hardly made sense.

Anne Marie Taal de Neergaard wrote this piece in March 2012, a timely and well-done review of a (then) recently released EP by the Shoegaze Archives (Captured Tracks). This means it was actually a re-released EP from a first gen shoegaze band, because that's what the Shoegaze Archives does - re-releases early shoegaze gems that should have been huge, but because of the mysterious nature of these things, simply weren't. Isn't it fucking awesome that someone out there even DOES that? The Shoegaze Archives rule. 

Anyway, in this case, I'm referring to Grabbel and The Final Cut's Get Your Feet Back on the Ground EP. And damn it, Anne Marie was going to make sure that G&tFC would indeed get their feet back on the ground, because she was going to give the EP the glowing review it originally deserved (plus, the foot-to-ground ratio needed to be really close in order for any shoegazing to take place). So Anne Marie wrote an excellent review of Grabbel & the Final Cut's Get Your Feet Back on the Ground EP and sent it to me to publish. In March of 2012.
But again, the aforementioned mysterious nature of these things reared its pesky head; I lost the review in a pile of probably still-unanswered emails and the review never saw the light of day. Yes, I do suck at life. Moving on. So fast-forward to January 2013, when I randomly decide to post Grabbel & the Final Cut's track "Psycho Popsong" as part of the WTSH Classic Trax Archives. I was amped about it, too, since that song is aces and I was glad people would be hitting play and hearing it that day. Later, I noticed someone had commented on the post, stating that Anne Marie had written a review of the G&tFC EP that was never posted, and this person hoped perhaps maybe one day it would be.

So I felt like a total asshole instantly, of course (and rightly so). Anne Marie confirmed that this was all true: yes, I do suck at life and I did lose the review and I am a total asshole (except that she didn't really say all of that - she's far too sweet and kind) and it was never posted. I insisted on rectifying this oversight immediately, regardless if the review was "old" - it was "old" anyway, since it was a review of a re-release, and goddamn it, I wasn't going to let this band slip through the cracks again. Not only that, but I was determined to interview the band, as well. I owed them at least that much (plus, I just wanted to - I adore their music). Stefan graciously agreed to be interviewed by WTSH, so next week look for a long overdue interview with G&tFC on the blog.

And so I present to you Anne Marie's long-awaited review of the EP, which is finally seeing the light of day. Brought to you by coincidence and the mysterious nature of things, which simply couldn't and wouldn't get the better of Grabbel & the Final Cut; no, not this time.

The Review (Anne Marie Taal de Neergaard):
I know it's sad to say, but sometimes – sometimes it's not even enough making really great music and working really hard to make it get the recognition it deserves. You'd have to be in the right place, too, happen to meet the right people, catch the right time and, basically speaking, besides creating awesome music, coincidence must be on your side, too! Coincidence, which really should mean freedom, sometimes can be what's keeping you down.

First-wave shoegaze / noise pop band Grabbel and The Final Cut originally formed in Lüneburg, a smaller city close to Hamburg, Germany back in 1989, and consisted of band members Stefan Zachau (guitar, vocal), Gernot Dornblüth (bass, vocal), Sascha Kotzur (guitar, keyboard) and Christian Grabowski (drums). Grabowski's nickname was 'Grabbel', thereby the band name.

Heavily influenced by the british shoegaze scene and bands such as (pre-Loveless!) My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain, their early sound transformed from a darker, Joy Division-like and Velvet Underground-inspired style and into a more noisy guitar-pop sound. They played a lot of very well-attended local shows at their favorite local club, the Wahnhof, and had a handful of self-distributed, cassette-only releases, however the first shoegaze wave was running out of time and turning into brit-pop, and Grabbel and The Final Cut remained largely unknown and stayed unsigned till the band split in 1996.

However, no less than 15 years later, the band was suddenly (and luckily!!) somehow discovered by founder and head of Captured Tracks, Mike Sniper, and the band could hardly believe their eyes reading his message on their Facebook bandpage; ”Hey guys, hit me up, I'd like to press the 3 EP songs on a 7." After having wanted to release their first EP for almost 20 years, suddenly the time was right again, and coincidence somehow finally worked its wonders. Captured Tracks, based in Brooklyn, New York, released Grabbel and The Final Cut EP Get Your Feet Back On The Ground as part of the label’s Shoegaze Archives in January 2012.

And I must say I'm personally very happy they did – I really completely adore the totally unpolished and pure noise of Grabbel and The Final Cut and their extremely catchy tunes have been stuck in my head since I came upon it for the first time in March last year.
This is indeed the sound of where everything started 20 years back, and there's no way my brain can fight the impact of mind-injected dopamines inevitably created by deeply recognising the sound of this band even though I'd never heard them before. This is both very much like coming home, and in the same time like starting all over again – in the most wonderful way possible!

Fortunately, Grabbel and The Final Cut took the opportunity, set off by Captured Tracks, to revive the band. They are playing live again and have started working on new material for future releases. I really can't wait to hear it!

In general, one should of course alway be careful with putting narrow labels on music, even if it's your own, though it can have its unpredictable benefits too; the ”Psycho Popsong” was originally called 'Perfect Popsong' (which is in fact a very precise description) however, when Grabbel and The Final Cut back in the days informed a local daily newspaper that they were playing ”noise-guitar-psych-pop”, the journalist quickly turned it into a headline saying "Psycho Pop from Lüneburg" - and the song of course had to change its name into Psycho Popsong, and I'd gladly call it Psycho Candy if the title wasn't already kind of taken
Anyway, whatever words one chooses to use about this genre in general, I'm really blown away by this band and their EP's making me feel so literally high on sound there's just no way I'm gonna get my Feet Back On The Ground anytime soon! I find myself pressing 'play' over and over again at their Bandcamp, highly impatient to get my hands on this EP, and, not least, hopefully to see a full length in the near future?

It may be true that only cats have nine lives, but I'd say that Grabbel and The Final Cut have at least two. - And the second one's only just begun!! (March 2012)

The Addendums:
Anne Marie has indeed gotten her hands on the 7" vinyl EP since this was written. She listens to it a lot.

Since this was written, Grabbel & the Final Cut have got back on stage, released an album with current live recordings, are now working on a compilation album that should be released on Captured Tracks this year, and the band has plans to record some new songs within the next few months.

A recent inteview with the band:


  1. I <3 Captured Tracks (of course) and I'd like to see more releases in that Shoegaze Archives line--they don't seem to add things to it very often, and I know there's worthy material out there!

    Amber, do you know one from that series by Should, called Folding Sieve?? I have the vinyl edition ( ) It's awesome, classic Shoegaze by a 90s Austin band! I wanna recommend it to everybody.

    I have to check out Grabbel, I haven't yet! After reading this I bet I'll love it.

    Amber, did you buy a copy of our book!?? ;) You said you would...;)

  2. Btw, nice review Anne Marie!

    Do you think "The Mind-Injected Dopamines" would be a good name for a psycho pop band? ;)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Thanks so much, Amber & Anne Marie,
    you're both awesome!! :-)


  5. that should reissue is SO good, and this release was one of my favorites last year.

  6. should is amazing. as is this. thumbs up captured tracks/shoegaze archives.