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Monday, February 29, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Push the Sky Away

 photo 220px-Push_the_Sky_Away_zpswhiprah7.jpg
10/10

Before I write a review, I like to visit Wikipedia. Not to get any solid information. Anyone can edit a Wikipedia entry. I edit them all the time. Generally, I do this when I notice that someone has entered their opinion on what is supposed to be a factual encyclopedia entry, but if I can do it, anyone can do it. The reason I often check Wikipedia before I write a review is that, on the rare occasion that those who have edited the entries have actually cited a source, there is a link to that source at the bottom of the page. If that link isn't dead, it generally leads to an interview or news story with or about the subject of the entry. The entry for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 2013 (and at this point most recent) album, Push the Sky Away, is actually very informative, with plenty of cited quotes from various interviews. In a sublimely meta-point in the Wikipedia entry, a Sandbag UK-quoted section reads:
"The songs on the album were written over the course of twelve months and "took form in a modest notebook" kept by Cave. The notebook contained notes on the album's songs, which were composed from "Googling curiosities, being entranced by exotic Wikipedia entries 'whether they’re true or not'."[6] (The song We Real Cool also mentions Wikipedia by name.) According to Cave, the songs illustrate how the internet has influenced "significant events, momentary fads and mystically-tinged absurdities" and "question how we might recognise (sic) and assign weight to what's genuinely important."
The Wikipedia entry also takes another quote from Nick Cave that verbally traces Push the Sky Away far better than I can:
"Describing Push the Sky Away in the album's press release, Nick Cave said "if I were to use that threadbare metaphor of albums being like children, then Push The Sky Away is the ghost-baby in the incubator and Warren's loops (bandmember, Warren Ellis) are its tiny, trembling heart-beat."
This statement is not only a shockingly apt description of Push the Sky Away's sound, but a revelation of the artistic process by which the album was created. Every Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album previous this includes the credit "all songs written by Nick Cave except..." Push the Sky Away's booklet credit sheet says, "all songs written by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis except..."
Prior to Push the Sky Away's creation, Mick Harvey, the final founding member of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds not named Nick Cave, left the band. Harvey played guitar in the Bad Seeds, taking over sole-duty on that instrument after the band's other guitarist and founding member, Blixa Bargeld, left in 2003. Instead of looking for a new guitarist, Cave apparently decided the band didn't need one.
By this point, Cave and Ellis have forged a close musical relationship, scoring such films of The Proposition, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford together. His implicit trust in Ellis' musical abilities has become so strong, Cave now shares co-writer credit with him in a project that bears Cave's own name. One look at Push the Sky Away's instrument credits reveals this truly is the Nick and Warren show.
Not only does the band have no guitarist, but guitar is barely mentioned in the credits. Two tracks feature a "12-string acoustic guitar," and Ellis is credited with "tenor guitar," tenor guitar being the fourth out of seven instruments listed by Ellis' name. Cave and Ellis have bravely forged ahead to create a new kind of music. What results is a quiet, brooding, metaphysical album punctuated by strikes of lightning. Ellis' loops, steady in the background of the band's previous album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! are now the very bedrock of the songs. The bassist lays a groove on top of them, and Cave a little piano or keyboard. The drummer and percussionist add fine touches, but only fully blossom on two tracks. Ellis embellishes.
This isn't the Bad Seeds of the 80's, 90's, or 00's. This is a completely new entity. Rather strikingly, Cave joins a very rare club, one of which he may be the sole member. Many of my favorite bands came into existence in the late 70's and early 80's. Many of those bands are still playing today. The only one of those bands who are still relevant in 2016 are Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
That, of course, is my opinion, and is not worthy of Wikipedia, but I think that any of those bands' output in this decade proves me correct. My favorite band of all time, who I won't review for another seven letters, is flailing in the ocean of current taste, focusing on technology over art, hiring every hip, hit-making producer they can find, only to produce something decidedly disconnected and ephemeral. Nick Cave is not doing that. Whatever muse he has is apparently timeless and vital. Push the Sky Away, which baffled many critics in 2013, still sounds bizarrely alien and new three years on.
The reason is twofold. One, this music seems to accurately reflect the weight of our times, much the way my favorite band did in the 80's and early 90's. Coupled with that are Cave's lyrics, which are equally reflective, his musings still relevant, interesting, new. He can produce an album like this that continuously baffles and confounds the listener, then rips them apart with its penultimate track, "Higgs Boson Blues."

I must confess, the crashing, existential weight of the song, coupled with the closing title track, whose opening chords sound like the unfathomable grief of heaven, has pushed me to tears on multiple occasions. But again, that's just my opinion. It's also my opinion that Push the Sky Away is a masterpiece that becomes more prescient the more I hear it--much like Cave's seemingly throw-away references to Miley Cyrus. I close these reviews with Cave's own words, taken from "Higgs Boson Blues"

Can't remember anything at all
Flame trees line the streets
Can't remember anything at all
But I'm driving my car down to Geneva
I been sitting in my basement patio
Aye it was hot up above
Girls walk past, the roses all in bloom
Have you ever heard about the Higgs Boson Blues?
I'm going down to Geneva, baby
Gonna teach it to you
Who cares? Who cares what the future brings?

Black road long and I drove and drove
And came upon a crossroad
The night was hot and black
I see Robert Johnson with a 10-dollar guitar
Strapped to his back looking for a tune
Well here comes Lucifer with his canon law
And a hundred black babies running from his genocidal jaw
He got the real killer groove
Robert Johnson and the devil, man
Don't know who is gonna rip off who
Driving my car, flame trees on fire
Sitting and singing the Higgs Boson Blues

I'm tired, I'm looking for a spot to drop
All the clocks have stopped
In Memphis now in the Lorraine Motel
It's hot, it's hot - that's why they call it the Hot Spot
I'll take a room with a view
Hear a man preaching in a language that's completely new
Making the hot cocks in the flophouse bleed
While the cleaning ladies sob into their mops
And a bellhop hops and bops
A shot rings out to a spiritual groove
Everybody bleeding to that Higgs Boson Blues

If I die tonight, bury me
In my favorite yellow patent leather shoes
With a mummified cat and a cone-like hat
That the caliphate forced on the Jews
Can you feel my heartbeat?
Can you feel my heartbeat?

Hannah Montana does the African Savannah
As the simulated rainy season begins
She curses the queue at the Zulus
And moves on to Amazonia
And cries with the dolphins
Mau Mau ate the pygmy
The pygmy ate the monkey
The monkey has a gift that he is sending back to you
Look here comes the missionary
With his smallpox and flu
He's saving them, the savages
With the Higgs Boson Blues
I'm driving my car down to Geneva
I'm driving my car down to Geneva

Oh let the damn day break
The rainy days always make me sad
Miley Cyrus floats in a swimming pool in Toluca Lake
And you're the best girl I've ever had
Can't remember anything at all

2013 Bad Seed Ltd
1. We No Who U R 4:04
2. Wide Lovely Eyes 3:40
3. Water's Edge 3:49
4. Jubilee Street 6:35
5. Mermaids 3:49
6. We Real Cool 4:18
7. Finishing Jubilee Street 4:28
8. Higgs Boson Blues 7:50
9. Push the Sky Away 4:07

Friday, February 26, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

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9/10

It's always nice to go back to my old best-of-the-year lists, and see that my opinion hasn't changed. That isn't always the case. However, in the instance of my 2008 list, there is little I would change--in fact, the top three would stay exactly the same. Drive-By Truckers' Brighter Than Creation's Dark is still my favorite album from that year. Portishead's Third is still...second. Nick Cave's Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is still third. A glance at my seven year-old recap for Lazarus also shows something else that hasn't changed in my relationship with this album: I can't describe it. Here's my best, brief try.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seed's 2004 release, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, is a benchmark for the band. It features Cave as a vocalist, lyricist, and songwriter, as well as the Bad Seeds as musicians, all peaking. The songs are ornate and more complex than anything else Cave had ever done, the album's religious references putting Cave in the unfamiliar position of "Christian artist" and holder of wholesome respectability.
Naturally, Cave spent the next four years playing guitar in a garage rock side-band who features song-titles like "Love-Bomb" and "No Pussy Blues."  That side-band, Grinderman, is the product of Nick Cave grating at anything resembling a mainstream cage. Cave brings those same raw, lascivious leanings to Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! completely drops the outdoorsy, holy spring on the moor of Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, for a late-night stroll through dirty city streets. Three songs, "Moonland," "Jesus of the Moon," and "More News from Nowhere" are literally just chronicles of Cave ambling through garishly-lit back-alleys thinking about women or a lack thereof, reflecting on life, or just commenting on how scary everything is. Indeed, in these stripped down compositions, driven by raw electric guitar and bass, crazy organs, loads of percussion, and any weird noise Warren Ellis can make, there is a steady hum of underlying fear. A lot of times this fear is made explicit by the thrumming loops Ellis has created and thrown under the mix, particularly the doomsday buzz beneath the otherwise affable, if downtrodden closer, "More News from Nowhere."
With that said, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! contains a lot of contained racket, with a load of trademarked Nick Cave contemplation tossed in, and it all comes together with a ramshackle charm to produce one of the more fun albums of Nick Cave's career. It's sort of like he took "Saint Huck" from his first album and shot him into the future...where Nick Cave is a far more talented artist.  Like I said, describing this album is hard.


2008 ANTI-
1. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! 4:11
2. Today's Lesson 4:41
3. Moonland 3:53
4. Night of the Lotus Eaters 4:53
5. Albert Goes West 3:32
6. We Call Upon the Author 5:11
7. Hold on to Yourself 5:50
8. Lie Down Here (& Be My Girl) 4:57
9. Jesus of the Moon 3:22
10. Midnight Man 5:06
11. More News from Nowhere 7:58

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

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10/10

While The Bad Seeds have been a sort of revolving door of musicians since Nick Cave employed them, before 2004 there had been two constants: guitarists Blixa Bargeld and Mick Harvey. Bargeld plays a unique, minimalist style, while Harvey's contributions have been more traditional, and encompass multiple instruments. Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus marks the first time Blixa Bargeld has not played on a Nick Cave album--he left after 2003's Nocturama, the 20th anniversary of the band's inception. Maybe the hulking German realized he had gone as far as he could in the Bad Seeds' framework. Maybe he felt like he and Cave were holding each other back. Whatever the cause for his departure, the resulting Abattoir Blue/The Lyre of Orpheus is not only a return to form after a near decade of missteps, but possibly Cave and the band's best work.
Maybe it's due to chemistry. The band, with Harvey now free to do whatever he wants on guitar, seems to be gelling more than ever. Maybe Cave has adjusted to a drug-free, family life. Whatever the case, both sound better than ever.
Pledging to write 15 reviews in a month has possibly been a mistake. I would love to spill a billion effusive bytes on this lovely, wonderful album. I love that it sounds like something genuinely new, and yet still something that plays to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds strengths, and hearkens to their glory days. I love that Cave is writing stories again, creating atmosphere with his words, rather than just expressing simple emotions. I love that he and the band not only had the inspiration to write a double album, but the gumption to pull it off. I love how Cave wisely separates and connects the material of each disc.  Abattoir Blues starts off  joyously, with rowdy, raucous back-up singingm and heavy, raw grooves from the band. Abattoir slowly grows more somber and thoughtful as it goes along, though. Then The Lyre of Orpheus picks up in exactly the place Abattoir ends, with more delicate, mysterious instrumentation, and more mythical imagery, slowly growing in sound, and finally bringing back the back-up vocals, but this time as a sort of darker, gospel chorus. Cave even selected a different drummer for each disc (the Bad Seeds have two), getting his pounder, Jim Sclavunos to session the groovier Abattoir, while assigning Thomas Wydler, the bands longtime drummer, the more complex Orpheus.
I also love that Cave doesn't pussyfoot around matters of spirituality here. He ponders the mysteries of God more earnestly than ever before, professing worship, asking and thanking for inspiration, and questioning His people, all while singing more beautifully than he ever has in his career.
Most importantly, I love that Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus proves that an older/wiser Nick Cave can still inhabit the Gothic landscapes of his past, but now with more maturity, making them less a space for terror than a place for wonder, yet as mysterious as ever. Hence my favorite Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song, "Spell."

Warren Ellis' violin in this song is so dizzily seductive, the song as a whole so beautiful. I remember wandering around the mountains of Tennessee around midnight with my wife, about six months into our marriage, feeling each other out, trying to get a grip on one another, trying to figure things out. Midnight, 5:30, I blasted this song on repeat wherever and whenever we were. Here are the lyrics:

Through the woods, and frosted moors
Past the snow-caked hedgerows I
Bed down upon the drifting snow
Sleep beneath the melting sky
I whisper all your names
I know not where you are
But somewhere, somewhere, somewhere here
Upon this wild abandoned star

And I'm full of love
And I'm full of wonder
And I'm full of love
And I'm falling under
Your spell

I have no abiding memory
No awakening, no flaming dart
No word of consolation
No arrow through my heart
Only a feeble notion
A glimmer from afar
That I cling to with my fingers
As we go spinning wildly through the stars

And I'm full of love
And I'm full of wonder
And I'm full of love
And I'm falling under
Your spell

The wind lifts me to my senses
I rise up with the dew
The snow turns to streams of light
The purple heather grows anew
I call you by your name
I know not where you are
But somehow, somewhere, sometime soon
Upon this wild abandoned star

And I'm full of love
And I'm full of wonder
And I'm full of love
And I'm falling under
Your spell

There is so much of the divine in this song. It is a wondrous thing.
When I heard the seventh Harry Potter movie was going to include a song from this album, I thought it must be "Spell" because of the title. The filmmakers instead went with Orpheus' closer, "O Children." The song is one you can dance to, as in the film, but it also contains so much conflicted unease, it is perfect for the scene it soundtracks, and it is a perfect ending to this perfect double album. "O Children" takes all the themes of the album (rejoicing, pondering life's beauty and mysteries, remorse for the inequalities of life...yes, the album even has a social aspect), and makes one final, thoughtful, difficult, yet ambiguous statement, holding a sort of restraint and respect for the listener few closers of a work of this magnitude can grasp. Ah, but I'm out of time.

2004 Mute Records

Disc One: Abattoir Blues
1. Get Ready for Love 5:05
2. Cannibal's Hymn 4:54
3. Hiding All Away 6:31
4. Messiah Ward 5:14
5. There She Goes, My Beautiful World 5:17
6. Nature Boy 4:54
7. Abattoir Blues 3:58
8. Let the Bells Ring 4:26
9. Fable of the Brown Ape 2:45

Disc Two: The Lyre of Orpheus
1. The Lyre of Orpheus 5:36
2. Breathless 3:13
3. Babe, You Turn Me On 4:21
4. Easy Money 6:43
5. Supernaturally 4:37
6. Spell 4:25
7. Carry Me 3:37
8. O Children 6:51

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Nocturama

 photo 220px-Nocturama_zpsfrvwzvze.jpg
6/10

Reviewing all 15 of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' full-length original albums is starting to give me a big picture of the band's catalogue. The start out guns blazing, then struggle just a bit to find a sound, then discover it, deepen it, better it, perfect it...then they blow the whole thing up with a trilogy of albums that play against their strengths. The Boatman's Call, while critically heralded, is a quiet snooze-fest. No More Shall We Part is a bit more exciting, enjoyable enough, but far from the band's best. Nocturama feels unfocused and middling.
Hey, woulda'ya know, I'm on Nocturama right now. Let's not waste too much time on it, as Nick Cave and his crew certainly didn't (Nocturama was recorded in one week).
Nocturama begins with "Wonderful Life," a very cool sounding song featuring an awesome bass and drum groove and some nice piano lines. The production sounds great. Things are looking up. But then comes back-to-back boring ballads, "He Wants You," and "Right Out of Your Hand," and the moment just dies.
Thankfully,"Bring It On" resurrects it. "Bring It On" is one of most blustery, attitude-filled songs in Nick Cave's oeuvre. It's full of awesome braggadocio, as Cave and guest vocalist, Chris Bailey (of The Saints), dare the world to do what the title says, over ferocious drum rolls, a gnarly guitar line, and a ripping bit of violin. Here's an extremely low quality of the band + Bailey ripping up Letterman in exactly the fashion I just said.

The song also spawned a video that is borderline obscene, but perfectly fitting.
Thankfully, the album doesn't immediately back down from this promise of excitement. "Dead Man in My Bed," continues "Bring It On"'s high energy...but when "Dead Man in My Bed," is through, the album just sort of dies. It isn't that the second half is bad, it is just uninspired. The songs hold no magic. Even the 14-minute closer, "Babe, I'm on Fire," tells far more than it shows, with the band playing the same groove with little variation for its duration, and Cave just rattling off all the people that say he is "on fire." It's a lame closer to a half-baked album, only salvaged from mediocrity (or rather, cooked to completion) by the kick in the seat of its midsection. Thus, the trilogy ends.
Now, let's get back to the good ones.

2003 ANTI-
1. Wonderful Life 6:49
2. He Wants You 3:30
3. Right Out of Your Hand 5:15
4. Bring It On 5:22
5. Dead Man in My Bed 4:40
6. Still in Love 4:44
7. There Is a Town 4:58
8. Rock of Gibraltar 3:00
9. She Passed by My Window 3:20
10. Babe, I'm on Fire 14:45

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- No More Shall We Part

 photo 220px-No_more_shall_we_part_cover_zpszp3bddsv.jpg
8/10

Nick Cave brings his piano-based The Boatman's Call-style hijinks to its follow-up, No More Shall We Part, but thankfully he brings the Bad Seeds along with him this time. Cave also expands his lyrics--his love life and religious musings are still sung about, but he has expanded their scope. He is certainly in a different place than he was the decade before, reportedly clean and sober after years of drug and alcohol abuse, but new perspective or not, things don't seem so insular this time.
What works here, for me at least, is the atmosphere created by the band and Cave's lyrics. 1996's Murder Ballads brought to mind a dark, terrifying English countryside, and No More Shall We Part seems to re-imagine that place, minus the murder, during an introspective, early spring day, indoors. With all the references to gardens and windows and women sitting in quiet rooms, the reliance on Warren Ellis' emotional, atmospheric violin is fitting. Thankfully, this isn't just the piano and violin show, though, as the full band, guitars, drums, bass, and the lot get to exercise their muscle throughout. This certainly isn't one of Cave's louder albums, but with more full and complex musical accompaniment, the more introspective nature of this older, wiser Cave's lyrics are only heightened. In other words, this album doesn't bore me like The Boatman's Call does.
I wish I didn't have to couch this review in such metaphysical language, and compare it so much to its predecessor, but after Cave took such an unexpected left turn into softer sounds in the late 90's, these two albums are explanatorily interdependent. Some people compare No More Shall We Part negatively to The Boatman's Call, calling it more of the same, but less inspired, but those people are huge fans of The Boatman's Call. As someone who is not, I enjoy that Cave took the elements from that album I did enjoy, and more fully fleshed them out.
Whatever, I think I've made my point.


2001 Mute Records
1. As I Sat Sadly by Her Side 6:15
2. And No More Shall We Part 4:00
3. Hallelujah 7:48
4. Love Letter 4:08
5. Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow 5:36
6. God Is in the House 5:44
7. Oh My Lord 7:30
8. Sweetheart Come 4:58
9. The Sorrowful Wife 5:18
10. We Came Along This Road 6:08
11. Gates to the Garden 4:09
12. Darker with the Day 6:07

Monday, February 22, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- The Boatman's Call

 photo 220px-Nick_cave_and_the_bad_seeds-the_boatmans_call_zpsumxld6mq.jpg
7/10

And now it's time to do that thing on The Nicsperiment where I have the exact opposite opinion of everyone else.
Nick Cave released The Boatman's Call in 1997 to universal critical acclaim, the best reviews, to this day, of his career. I am not particularly fond of The Boatman's Call.
The Boatman's Call does that thing where an artists previously known for rowdier or more out-of-the-box music releases an album full of slow piano ballads. The Bad Seeds, when they are even utilized, barely have anything to do here. Most of these songs are focused on nothing but bass, piano, and Nick Cave's voice. That's fine for a few songs, and indeed, The Boatman's Call is fine for the first few songs.
The reviews for The Boatman's Call do that thing where I suspect the reviewer only listened to the first few songs of the album and then wrote their review. I don't mind the first few songs of this album, or even the individual songs themselves, but 52-minutes of slow, minimalist ballads are extremely hard to take in one setting. *Insert sex joke* Admittedly, I already don't like minimalist ballads in the first place, but I think there is validity in criticizing The Boatman's Call for being boring for using the same exact sound, tempo, and textures for its entire run-time. I have an equal amount of difficulty getting into, say, a punk record (a genre I genuinely enjoy), when all of its songs stick to the same exact sound, and feature the same exact tempos and textures. After all, this is supposed to be an album, not a 52-minute single.
The Boatman's Call's lyrics do that thing where the artists drops their usual forte (in Nick Cave's case, dark storytelling), to focus on failed romantic relationships and struggles with religion. I get tired of instances like Cave's, "I don't believe in an interventionist God" lines of "Into My Arms" crashing into the straight-up profession of faith in "There Is a Kingdom." I want some kind of cohesion and sincerity in my lyrics. I much rather the vengeful God of Cave's earlier work, or the wonderful, glorious worship of God in the soon-to-be-reviewed by The Nicperiment Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus. I only like to waffle in the morning.
And on that note, now I'm going to do that thing where I link to the one song from The Boatman's Call that truly breaks that mold(lyrics-wise...musically, the song is still a bit of a drag), "People Ain't No Good."
This review was brought to you by Stefon.

1997 Mute Records
1. Into My Arms 4:15
2. Lime Tree Arbour 2:56
3. People Ain't No Good 5:42
4. Brompton Oratory 4:06
5. There is a Kingdom 4:52
6. (Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For? 4:05
7. Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere? 5:46
8. West Country Girl 2:45
9. Black Hair 4:14
10. Idiot Prayer 4:21
11. Far from Me 5:33
12. Green Eyes 3:32

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Nicsperiment's Work Listening Station: Volume 1


I've been back behind a desk for almost six months now, enjoying my job, and my work environment. Having my own office again is also great, as I can listen to tunes to help hone my focus during the workday. I am rediscovering the great pleasure of Youtube discoveries. Yes, that's right, I am discovering discoveries. I'd like to post my favorite ones of the week, just as much to help me remember them, as showcase them to others. However, I first feel like I have to go back to some earlier finds, stuff I found before I had the idea for this post. Also, I feel like saying that I am going to post this every week is putting pressure on myself that is not necessary. How about, "I'll post one of these whenever it's apt?" Best to start with something I have been listening to almost daily.
At three hours, "Nordic Ambient Music," compiled by a Youtube member who goes by the name of "moonasha," is a great work mix. It can fill out a morning, or the post-lunch afternoon block perfectly.
The playlist is composed of four artists, Ulf Söderberg, Sephiroth (Söderberg's older act), Empyrium, and Tenhi. The playlist begins with Söderberg's work, which mainly consists of deep ambient tones punctuated by cathartic spiritual chants and tribal percussion, best exemplified by "I Vargamens Tid" at about the 27 minute mark. Another highlight is "det vakande tinget i nordväst," which changes the mood with a sort of Celtic, victorious homecoming-type flavor. This is followed by a short, Middle-Eastern flavored fast-paced sort of segue track that leads into the Sephiroth pieces.
Sephiroth is far darker, features heavier ambient tones and chanting, and longer track lengths. The high-water mark for me comes 54 minutes in, on "Now Night Her Course Began," a dark-river, slow-moving, but unyielding and beautiful. From this point, "moonasha" alternates between more meditative Söderberg and Sephiroth pieces, perfect for aiding focus on any task. When the weight of these sounds become nearly too much to bear, Empyrium arrives at the 2:20:00 mark. Empyrium's work consists of relaxed, minimalistic, guitar-based pieces that bring a more Western feel(I mean old, cowboy Western, not "America and Europe" Western), like waltzing into a lazy, lonely town in the middle of the desert. Tenhi follows suit with similar pieces, giving the feeling of a period of rest after a long, illuminating, yet tiring journey.
These tracks bring "Nordic Ambient Music" to its closing track, an encore by Ulf Söderberg that features some lovely chants, bringing to mind completion, and yet a desire to continue onward.
I don't know who this "moonasha" is, but they have compiled a transcendent musical experience. Thanks.
POSTSCRIPT:
Due to copyright infringement arguments by some of the artists featured near the end of the playlist, the list was taken down. Moonasha has re-uploaded the list with the offended parties removed, but this unfortunately means that the restful, guitar-based pieces that give the mix such a delightful emotional arc are gone, and that "Nordic Ambient Music" ends in darkness. Here is the re-uploaded mix. The old mix still has a tracklisting, if you'd like to attempt to recreate it for yourself.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Murder Ballads

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10/10

Have mercy on me, sir
Allow me to impose on you
I have no place to stay
And my bones are cold right through
I will tell you a story
Of a man and his family
And I swear that it is true
Ten years ago I met a girl named Joy
She was a sweet and happy thing
Her eyes were bright blue jewels
And we were married in the spring
I had no idea what happiness and little love could bring
Or what life had in store
But all things move toward their end
All things move toward their their end
On that you can be sure
La la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la
Then one morning I awoke to find her weeping
And for many days to follow
She grew so sad and lonely
Became Joy in name only
Within her breast there launched an unnamed sorrow
And a dark and grim force set sail
Farewell happy fields
Where joy forever dwells
"Hail horrors hail"
Was it an act of contrition or some awful premonition
As if she saw into the heart of her final blood-soaked night
Those lunatic eyes, that hungry kitchen knife
Ah, I see sir, that I have your attention!
Well, could it be?
How often I've asked that question
Well, then in quick succession
We had babies, one, two, three
We called them Hilda, Hattie and Holly
They were their mother's children
Their eyes were bright blue jewels
And they were quiet as a mouse
There was no laughter in the house
No, not from Hilda, Hattie or Holly
"No wonder", people said, "poor mother Joy's so melancholy"
Well, one night there came a visitor to our little home
I was visiting a sick friend
I was a doctor then
Joy and the girls were on their own
La la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la
Joy had been bound with electrical tape
In her mouth a gag
She'd been stabbed repeatedly
And stuffed into a sleeping bag
In their very cots my girls were robbed of their lives
Method of murder much the same as my wife's
Method of murder much the same as my wife's
It was midnight when I arrived home
Said to the police on the telephone
Someone's taken four innocent lives
They never caught the man
He's still on the loose
It seems he has done many many more
Quotes John Milton on the walls in the victim's blood
The police are investigating at tremendous cost
In my house he wrote "his red right hand"
That, I'm told is from Paradise Lost
The wind round here gets wicked cold
But my story is nearly told
I fear the morning will bring quite a frost
And so I've left my home
I drift from land to land
I am upon your step and you are a family man
Outside the vultures wheel
The wolves howl, the serpents hiss
And to extend this small favour, friend
Would be the sum of earthly bliss
Do you reckon me a friend?
The sun to me is dark
And silent as the moon
Do you, sir, have a room?
Are you beckoning me in?
La la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la


I though about just leaving what is above this and calling that the review, as it speaks for itself, but this album is far more multi-faceted than meets the eye, and I feel I have to say something...but I'll be brief. Obviously, by the title, these ten songs are about murder. From most other artists, this would make for a one-dimensional, and somewhat sadistic product. However, under the guidance of Nick Cave, these songs are more than anything, human. Generally, the songs' victims are just looking for love or to remedy their loneliness...in exactly the wrong places. Or maybe the song focuses on the murderer--maybe they are out for the very human act of revenge(we are the only creature that partakes in such a thing), as in "Crow Jane." Maybe the murderer is an extreme narcissist, like the constantly posing mass murderer of the show-stopping fourteen minute album climax, "O'Malley's Bar" (that guy would love our selfie-culture). Maybe the murderer is just, to quote Scully in a recent X-Files revival episode, "batcrap crazy," as is the killer in the demented jig, "The Curse of Millhaven." Even in songs from the darkest of perspectives, like that of the narrator of "Song of Joy," which is quoted in its entirety above, there is such a literary, classic-storytelling approach, a certain sensitivity can't help but shine through. Even in "Stagger Lee," the most vulgar song of Nick Cave's career, there is a sort of chuckling disbelief at play that transforms the song from exploitation to revelation.
Whatever lyrical and vocal decisions Cave makes, the Bad Seeds are there to paint his words with sound. "Song of Joy" ably conjures the dark moors of its setting with a dense, atmospheric arrangement that includes a piano line so idiomatic, it feels like it has always existed. If a song needs to have a swagger, ala "Stagger Lee," you can bet the bassist has laid down a bass-line so hypnotically rhythmic, even Oliver Cromwell could get down to it. If the arrangement needs to feel gentle and classical, such as the Kylie Minogue-duet, "Where the Wild Roses Grow," the band are fit and able to the task. If dark, windswept mystery is needed, such as in the Gothic rush of "Lovely Creature," the band become it. Perhaps most impressively, the Bad Seeds are able to find some sensuality in the darkness. I'll close with this video, featuring Nick Cave and PJ Harvey performing their duet, "Henry Lee," which proves that two adults clothed entirely to the throat can be far sexier than any ex-Disney Channel pop-aspiring starlet prancing around in barely nothing.


1996 Mute Records
1. Song of Joy 6:47
2. Stagger Lee 5:15
3. Henry Lee (featuring PJ Harvey) 3:58
4. Lovely Creature 4:13
5. Where the Wild Roses Grow (featuring Kylie Minogue) 3:57
6. The Curse of Millhaven 6:55
7. The Kindness of Strangers 4:39
8. Crow Jane 4:14
9. O'Malley's Bar 14:28
10. Death Is Not the End (featuring PJ Harvey, Kylie Minogue, Anita Lane, and Shane McGowan) 4:26 (originally by Bob Dylan)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Let Love In

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10/10

One look at the album cover for Let Love In clues the listener that they are in for something different: an unsettling photo of a naked Nick Cave, the album title written in red on his chest, his face turned skyward toward the band name, against a striking red background. None of Cave's album covers to this point have been nearly as impressionistic.
Full disclosure: Let Love In introduced me to Nick Cave. More specifically, a late night, summer of '97 viewing of the film Scream, featuring Let Love In's "Red Right Hand," introduced me to Nick Cave.

That one little foreboding scene is my favorite of the entire film. The atmosphere created by the music is brilliant, creating the tension of oncoming darkness, but cool as...well by definition, hell is not cool, but you get my drift. At first I thought I was hearing an old song by the Doors, but when the song popped up on The X-Files VHS set I received for Christmas (from the episode "Ascension"), I finally decided to do some research. The rest is history.
"Red Right Hand" might be the song of Nick Cave's career, and in my opinion, Let Love In* is (perhaps among a few, but we'll get to that) his landmark album. It is the archetype of what I (most likely unfairly) want every Nick Cave album to sound like. I guess this is the point in the review where I should finally start talking about it.
Let Love In takes the dark, Gothic leanings that have cropped up in previous Cave albums and makes them explicit. "Do You Love Me?" kicks the album off with the Bad Seeds sounding tighter and fuller than ever. Gone are the minimalistic trappings that sometimes hampered previous outings. "Do You Love Me?" is fun and scary and intense and sets the mood immediately. "Nobody's Baby Now" fakes the listener out that it might be safe to come out now, the arrangement comparatively gentle, though the lyrics dreary. Then "Loverman" roars onto the scene, alternating between the creeping, bell-accentuated verse, there's a devil waiting outside your door (How much longer?, guitarist Blixa Bargeld deeply intones), before all hell breaks loose in the chorus, the Bad Seeds banging away like a band possessed--

--then they rip into "Jangling Jack" likes dogs into raw meat. This all leads into the centerpiece, the previously mentioned "Red Right Hand." I hate to use a phrase as mundane as "the previously mentioned" in regard to "Red Right Hand." The song is an absolute classic. It is in the cannon of Western musical history. The bass line is paradigmatic. The organ phrases drill directly into the listener's imagination. Cave's disquieting lyrics, about a dark stranger on the outskirts of town...on the outskirts of your mind, along with his vocal performance, fuse to the brain. This is one of the greatest songs of all time. I haven't even mentioned the organ solo in the middle of it, but I've said enough.
Instead of going downhill from its highest peak, Let Love In refuses to leave the lofty heights. The title track follows with a bit of a Western flavor, still dark, and with a steady feeling of inevitability. "Thirsty Dog" leaps back into the violent fray started by "Loverman" and "Jangling Jack." Then there's "Ain't Gonna Rain Anymore."
"Ain't Gonna Rain Anymore" introduces Nick Cave fans to Warren Ellis' haunting violin. His sound fits so well, that a few years later, he'd be contributing to the Bad Seeds as much as anyone. This slow, uncompromisingly unsettling song is darker than black, making the alternative to rain seem an unspeakable horror.
"Lay Me Low," a slower, more chilled out song lightens the mood like the eye of a hurricane for someone who's never been in one. This leads directly into the closer, "Do You Love Me? (Part 2)."
This much-altered reprise of the opening track is, in my opinion, one of the most haunting songs ever recorded. "Do You Love Me (Part 2)" calls directly back to the beginning of the album, but Ellis' violin (in its second appearance on this album) fills it full of ghosts. According to this Nick Cave fan-site, the song, inspired by a story written by novelist, Peter Straub, is about child abuse. The mental-searing lyrics, and dense, hypnotic, atmospheric imagery, are unforgettable. As is this album.
Let Love In is Nick Cave's first masterpiece. If you haven't heard it, and if you have an imagination, and if you don't mind getting your feet a little dirty, you need to put this on your bucket list, and dump it on your head.


1994 Mute Records
1. Do You Love Me? 5:56
2. Nobody's Baby Now 3:52
3. Loverman 6:21
4. Jangling Jack 2:47
5. Red Right Hand 6:10
6. I Let Love In 4:14
7. Thirsty Dog 3:48
8. Ain't Gonna Rain Anymore 3:46
9. Lay Me Low 5:08
10. Do You Love Me? (Part 2) 6:12

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Henry's Dream

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8/10

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds return with an album of...aggressive, acoustic rock? Gone are most of the more theatrical, Gothic tones. No more vast, sometimes nighmarish landscapes. In their place is a bare-bones acoustic rock sound, driven by Mick Harvey's razor-sharp playing. With a full-time bassist and keyboard player added to the rotation, Harvey is freed up to focus more on his given instrument. The Good Son had some acoustic-guitar work, but Harvey seems to completely forgo the electric guitar on this album. This leaves nothing electric but Blixa Bargeld's extremely minimalistic electric guitar noodling, some keyboard, and the bass. Admittedly, this particular sound doesn't fit in my Nicsperiment's Favorite Kinds of Music Wheelhouse (What exactly is a wheelhouse? Is it a house made of wheels? A house full of wheels? Limits to what one can drive? Words are so confusing!). With that said, Cave and his bunch manage to keep up a nice frenetic pace, yet are wise enough to add some tempo and emotional variations, particularly in the lovey-dovey "Straight to You," the trippy "Christiana the Astonishing," and the emotional "Loom of the Land." Lyrically, Cave doesn't make as much a departure, Henry's Dream seeming to consist of a rough-and-tumble town, where a wrong step leads to a knife in the belly.

Kid Congo Powers Sighting: Alas, we've seen the last of Kid Congo Powers. The Kid cannot remain in one place for too long. You can't cage the Kid.

1992 Mute Records
1. Papa Won't Leave You, Henry 5:54
2. I Had a Dream, Joe 3:43
3. Straight to You 4:35
4. Brother, My Cup is Empty 3:02
5. Christina the Astonishing 4:51
6. When I First Came to Town 5:22
7. John Finn's Wife 5:13
8. Loom of the Land 5:08
9. Jack the Ripper 3:45

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- The Good Son

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8/10

Since The Good Son has been reviewed so many times, let's get the generic stuff most of those reviews content themselves with out of the way: something something Nick Cave did a lot of drugs and made a bunch of crazy music, something something Nick Cave went to rehab and got clean for a little and fell in love and moved to Brazil, something something Nick Cave then recorded and released an album that was tame and not crazy and angered a bunch of fans who only wanted Nick Cave to make music that is crazy. Now that all of that is out of the way...
The Good Son begins with the surprisingly acoustic and laid-back,calming, yet vast tone of "Foi Na Cruz." The song features expansive strings that wouldn't be out-of-place on a late 70's Marvin Gaye track...like Nick Cave went to church or something. However, the song sounds far more somber than happy (the lyrics seem like that of a break-up song, as well). The title-track follows suit, but adds a little sadness to the mix. Speaking of sadness, next up is "Sorrow's Child," where a sad anthem of a piano line, harmonica, and strings come to the forefront. The more Gothic sound one would normally associate with Nick Cave begins to dominate with this track, though Cave is able to bring it out without injecting menace into the proceedings, maybe for the first time in his career. The hand of death is present, and yet Cave isn't leering over you about it. This is growth.
This leads into one of my favorite Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' songs: "The Weeping Song."
"The Weeping Song" nails the Gothic sound I just mentioned, including vibraphone because a Gothic-sounding song just has to have vibraphone. The song features one of Cave's biggest, most sweeping choruses, and a great duet with guitarist and barrel-throated guitarist, Blixa Bargeld. The song brings to mind a town in a dark valley (maybe next to a deep, ancient lake), surrounded by black silhouettes of mountains, under a blood red sky. It's also incredibly fun.

When I was checking out the credits for the song on All Music, I noticed that the guy who did a quick write up of the song absolutely nailed it, and since I dissed wack criticism at the top, here's a link to a good piece of non-wack journalism.
"The Weeping Song" is the first in a trilogy of consecutive The Good Son songs to begin with the word "the." The second is "The Ship Song," the polar opposite of its predecessor. "The Ship Song" is possibly the most romantic song Cave ever recorded, in every sense of the word. It uses the same instruments as "The Ship Song" (even the vibraphone!), but carries such a different feeling, contrasting the grief of "...Weeping..." with joyful yearning. Joyful yearning. That was lame. Sorry dudes. Erm...guns...uh, football...Budweiser...face-punching. Anyway, here's the video for "The Ship Song," which for some reason features the little girls from the album cover running around, haunting Cave and the band.

I saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds a couple years ago (I wrote about it here), and they played both "The Weeping Song" and "The Ship Song," causing the pleasure-center of my brain to spontaneously combust, but don't worry, it got better.
"The Hammer Song" closes out the trilogy with brute violence, Cave's pronouncement that "the hammer came down" sounding like gospel, and continuing in the marvelous Gothic vein of the previous songs. Just because the man (allegedly) quit drugs for this album doesn't make The Good Son soft. It features some of the darkest, heaviest songs of Cave's career. Just because he isn't spitting when he sings them doesn't mean he's lost his edge.
There are some other songs on this album, including a sequel to the "the" trilogy, but I've already talked about The Good Son's high-points. The rest is good, but that middle trilogy of songs is great, a portent of even better things to come.
Kid Congo Powers Sighting: The Powers have returned. This time they are given a sole credit: "guitar."

 1990 Mute Records
1. Foi Na Cruz 5:39
2. The Good Son 6:01
3. Sorrow's Child 4:36
4. The Weeping Song 4:21
5. The Ship Song 5:14
6. The Hammer Song 4:16
7. Lament 4:51
8. The Witness Song 5:57
9. Lucy 4:17

Monday, February 15, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Tender Prey

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8/10

Tender Prey storms out of the gate with the relentless "The Mercy Seat," a driving, harrowing song about a death row inmate, headed to the chair, who's "...not afraid to die." As soon as that's done, the listener is introduced to another criminal on "Up Jumped the Devil," this one doomed at birth, and backed by a shuffling, yet heavy beat..."down we go" he repeats to a piano line so irresistible, someone jumping into the song too late might not realize that the "we" consists of the narrator and the titular devil. While Tender Prey's Wikipedia page notes Nick Cave's dislike of the album's topical inconsistency, it's pretty clear that the "tender prey" are humans, and that that which preys on them is ol 'Nick. "Deanna," which sounds like a gospel song sung by a horny demon, follows suit, informing Deanna that "I ain't down here for your love or money/I'm down here for your soul."
"Mercy," the album's centerpiece, bucks the trend, a desperate prayer from John the Baptist, but the devil gets a name-drop anyway.
Hey, did I mention these songs are really good? While I don't think anything quite matches the Gothic storytelling of his previous album's "The Carny," nearly every song comes close. Cave is now not only firmly marrying his storytelling skills with the dark, ribald atmosphere he's been cultivating all along, but with strong song-writing, as well. Befitting the nature of this album, this is a dysfunctional, plural marriage, but one which strangely works.
Side two continues the tales of folks chased by the devil and his ways, ending with the optimistic "New Morning," though the 1988, high as a kite, quite predatory-sounding himself Cave can't help but inject a little malice into "There'll be a new day/and it's today/for us," soaring harmonica notwithstanding.

Kid Congo Powers Sighting: There's a guy credited on this album by the name of "Kid Congo Powers." Yes. Kid Congo Powers. His contributions include "guitar" and "backing vocals."

1988 Mute Records
1. The Mercy Seat 7:18
2. Up Jumped the Devil 5:16
3. Deanna 3:45
4. Watching Alice 4:01
5. Mercy 6:22
6. City of Refuge 4:48
7. Slowly Goes the Night 5:23
8. Sunday's Slave 3:40
9. Sugar Sugar Sugar 5:01
10. New Morning 3:46

Friday, February 12, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Your Funeral... MyTrial

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8/10

While Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' cover album, Kicking Against the Pricks, isn't exactly a remarkable work, the positive attributes the band gained by creating it are immediately felt on its follow-up, Your Funeral... My Trial...which was released just three months later. Getting fingers and throats around some classic songs seems to have fired up the band to create songs of a more timeless nature.
Consequently, the opening piano notes of the title track are instantly memorable, as is Cave's gentle melody. The second track, "Stranger Than Kindness," takes a bit of a guitar page from Echo and the Bunnymen's Ocean Rain album, humming along like a brooding, expectant string section, as Cave's vocals, placed uncomfortably high in the mix, create an intense, inescapable atmosphere. Later on, "Sad Waters" could almost pass for a love song in a John Hughes film if not the for the endearingly off-kilter nature of the arrangement. The true standout here, though, is one of Cave's all-time bests, a dark fable entitled "The Carny."
Cave has tested out his storytelling skills a bit before this point, but he ventures into far deeper waters with "The Carny." The song features a dark lyrical landscape, dotted by a carnival horse buried in soil too shallow...but it's about so much more. The Bad Seeds are game to provide Cave's lyrics the suitable, dark-circus backdrop they deserve, but the music hints at something deeper and more sinister, as well, with a periodic (I am assuming guitar) noise tearing through, that sounds like either the sky, or a soul itself being rent apart. What an engaging piece of work.
Your Funeral... My Trial isn't quite perfect..."Hard on for Love," for instance, sounds as silly as it sounds. The album as a whole, though, shows encouraging growth for Cave and his rotten bunch, featuring deeper atmosphere ("deeper" is the key word for this review), more complex arrangements, and most importantly, better written songs. It seems Cave can only go up from here.


1986 Mute Records
1. Your Funeral, My Trial 3:57
2. Stranger Than Kindness 4:47
3. Jacks Shadow 5:43
4. The Carny 8:02
5. She Fell Away 4:33
6. Hard on for Love 5:21
7. Sad Waters 5:02
8. Long Time Man 5:48
9. Scum 2:53

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Kicking Against the Pricks

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6/10

This cover album (NOT album cover!) and its significance are pretty ease to describe. These covers are all serviceable. At times they are full of menace, but the menace never has a payoff. This isn't always a bad thing. The constant tension without release in "Hey Joe," for instance.

It's okay that the gun never goes off in one song, but an entire album with little in the way of catharsis is a little hard to stomach. The minimalistic instrumentation (particularly in the vein of Blixa Bargeld's "I'll play when I feel like it" guitar-style) just doesn't allow for much in the way of payoff, at least not the way Cave and his crew are employing it in 1986. So the album is enjoyable only to the degree that it brings a little joy. It does, however, reveal the fact that Nick Cave can actually sing, and it also introduces Thomas Wydler on drums, complementing the bass to give the band an honest to God rhythm section (no more ghoulish banging). So Kicking Against the Pricks: decent album, named after a Bible verse, far from Nick Cave's best work, portends a bright future, makes for a short review.
A PERSONAL NOTE:
Back in the day, when I was attempting to fill out my Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds collection, the otherwise reliable Compact Disc Store on Jefferson never had the Nick Cave albums I wanted--but, they ALWAYS had Kicking Against the Pricks. R.I.P. Compact Disc Store.

1986 Mute Records
1. Muddy Water 5:15 (originally by Phil Rosenthal)
2. I'm Gonna Kill That Woman 3:44 (originally by John Lee Hooker cover)
3. Sleeping Annaleah 3:18 (originally by Mickey Newbury, Dan Folger)
4. Long Black Veil 3:46 (originally by Danny Dill, Marijohn Wilkin)
5. Hey Joe 3:56 (originally by Billy Roberts)
6. The Singer (a.k.a. The Folksinger) 3:09 (originally by Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels)
7. All Tomorrow's Parties 5:52 (originally by Lou Reed)
8. By the Time I Get to Phoenix 3:39 (originally by Jimmy Webb)
9. The Hammer Song 3:50 (originally by Alex Harvey)
10. Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart 3:44 (originally by Roger Greenaway, Roger Cook)
11. Jesus Met the Woman at the Well 2:00 (Traditional)
12. The Carnival Is Over 3:16 (originally by Tom Springfield)

Monday, February 08, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- The Firstborn Is Dead

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7/10

Nick Cave's second album starts with a tale of the dark, thunderous night  Elvis Presley was born on the heels of his stillborn older twin. The Firstborn Is Dead. After such a rumbling, percussive start, The Firstborn Is Dead is a little bit...dead. After all the manic energy and chaotic glee of From Her to Eternity, The Firstborn Is Dead seems a bit tired and rote. It's not bad by any means, it is certainly listenable, but there is a noticeable lack of momentum. If Cave was trying to put his first album behind him with the title of this one, he only served to highlight Eternity's far livelier mood. So what you get here is musically similar to the debut: minimalist guitar played by a guy who approaches the guitar like an alien artifact. Mostly driving, pounding drums. A liberal amount of piano and unusual sounds. Strong bass-playing. Cave sometimes singing, and sometimes shouting like a gremlin. It's all enjoyable enough, yet the whole affair is strangely...muted. Get it? Mute Records? Get it? Ugh.

1985 Mute Records
1. Tupelo 7:17
2. Say Goodbye to the Little Girl Tree 5:10
3. Train Long-Suffering 3:49
4. Black Crow King 5:05
5. Knockin' on Joe 7:38
6. Wanted Man (Bob Dylan and Johhny Cash cover) 5:27
7. Blind Lemon Jefferson 6:10

Friday, February 05, 2016

R.I.P. Jon Bunch (1970-2016)

Jon, you took a band I  loved musically, but could find little connection with lyrically, and turned them into something I can not only connect to, but be sustained by in the worst of times. Your boundlessly hopeful lyricism and the optimism brimming from your beautiful voice will never die. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- From Her to Eternity

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8/10

Here is what Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' first album, From Her to Eternity, sounds like:
You are climbing ancient, mysterious mountains, surrounded by forest, as far as the eye can see. A storm approaches, and before you know it, you are blinded and drenched, tumbling down into some unseen hole. You tumble and tumble, deeper into the mountain's hollowed insides, until you land in a strange cave of total darkness. You hear something, many things, charging toward you, feet on rock and dust, and before you know it, you are surrounded by a gang of angry goblins.
Do these goblins want to kill you? Maybe, but before it comes to that, they want to play forty-three minutes worth of songs for you. One of the goblins, a rangy, demented sounding one, does something akin to singing, though his voice snarls, sneers, and bellows far more than flirts with melody. Another goblin is steadily banging on some kind of percussion, all skin, goblin glass, and tumbling stones. There's one who plays a piano of skeletal fingers, and there are others, creating sounds from things you know not and don't even want to imagine. Also, there's one other human down there with you, a professional bass player, some poor soul kidnapped one lonely night from his dingy club attic bedroom, eyes put out, and forced to live below ground with the goblins. That is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds first album.
Amidst this orcish cacophony, Nick Cave plants the seeds of what's to come, from the pitch-black storytelling of "Saint Huck," to the sparse, doomed finale of "A Box for Black Paul." While (the on this album, almost impossibly aptly named) Cave would travel far from these sounds and back again, one can already hear the talented genius that marks the breadth of his work.


1984 Mute Records
1. Avalanche (Leonard Cohen cover) 5:13
2. Cabin Fever! 6:11
3. Well of Misery 5:25
4. From Her to Eternity 5:33
5. Saint Huck 7:22
6. Wings Off Flies 4:06
7. A Box for Black Paul 9:42

Monday, February 01, 2016

It's Nick Cave Month at the Nicsperiment

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If you haven't noticed, I have reached my namesake artists. However, there is one who stands out above the rest (and the one after him is a standout, so that's saying something). I have been into Nick Cave and the Bad Seed's music since I realized that the awesome song from the movie Scream and the X-Files episode from season two where Scully gets abducted ("Ascension") is not actually a Doors song...it is a song called "Red Right Hand" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Once I realized this, I realized that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds might have more songs than just "Red Right Hand," and indeed they do. In fact, up to this point in history, they have fifteen albums worth of more songs, and I am going to be reviewing all fifteen during the rather Nick Caveish month of February (he's got some live albums and other oddities, but I will be sticking to the LP's). So get ready for my opinions on some dark music from the depths of the soul of one of the greatest musical artists of the last 25 years because this is the Internet, and everyone's opinion is a gloriously ephemeral universe unto itself. Also, if by some miracle I can complete it, I am working on a critical film study in the vein of the one I did on Kubrick last year, though on a far different set of films. That might pop-up during this one-day extended month, as well. It is leap year, after all.