Showing posts with label Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. Show all posts

Friday, 8 February 2019

We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves - John Maus

This LP was the first to get dissed on my blog, I think on the second post ever. Here's what I said:
Who cares?
John Maus (he is Chapterhouse to Ariel Pink’s MBV)

Anyway since deciding to listen to Screen Memories by John Maus out of the blue last year I've had a change of heart. Dismissing him as a z-grade Ariel Pink back in 2011 wasn't really fair was it? I mean he was Pink's band mate, collaborator and friend. It was a bit like saying Hugo Race was a bit Bad Seeds-y, hell yeah he was because he was part of the fucking original band. So I had to buy We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves again this year and well I love it. It's now giving Rustie and Adele a run for their money as quite possibly my favourite record of 2011. Been diggin last year's Addendum and 2017's Screen Memories too. Now there's some more catching up to do.

Does this also mean a reappraisal of Chapterhouse is in order?

How about this below anthem? Believer gives me the pure pop goose bumps. It's amazing that I could disregard an LP that has now had such an emotional impact on me.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Push The Sky Away...

A Late Understanding Of Nick Cave's 2013 Album

I bought this LP when it first came out at the start of 2013, quickly shelved it and thought I'd probably never listen to it ever again. I thought this is the most boring Nick Cave shit ever. 'No Mick Harvey, bring Blixa back, where's Ed Kuepper? Wasn't he meant to playing on this?' Were my thoughts. A couple of weeks ago I pulled it out for the first time since February 2013 after seeing a cool poster on the interweb for his current tour. I thought maybe I missed something. I mean it was high in end of 2013 lists and quite rated (I do have a mistrust of post millennial rock criticism and don't read reviews).

The first thing I noticed when I put the cd in the computer was that bloody itunes had blanked out the pubic hair of the lady on the front cover (Nick Cave's Wife?). I still found it a little boring. Something dragged me back though. Several listens in and I was diggin it like no Bad Seeds record since the 80s. This is the Grinderman comedown and it's no rock record. That's what I had to come to terms with, Push The Sky Away having little to to with raucous Cave. Lyrically Cave's in fine form. His words are just as fucked up and lewd as anything from the 2 classic Grinderman LPs. Kudos must go to producer Nick Launay for keeping the record subtle and nuanced. No other band could have made this album. The Bad Seeds minimalism and restraint is so affective here.

It's track 3 that got me in. Water's Edge is musically co-written by Thomas Wilder and it has an edge like something from say Your Funeral, My Trial... A minute in and you're expecting Blixa Bargeld  to chime in with his idiosyncratic guitar and vocals. I could have sworn that was a Barry Adamson bassline but looking on the liner notes he only plays on 2 tracks toward the end. Maybe Marty was channelling Adamson's ominous spirit. Water's Edge has a seductive menace and creepiness reminiscent of 80s Bad Seeds. Particularly when Cave whispers in your ear "But you grow old and you grow cold/But You grow old and you grow cold/You grow old." Then Nick's singing shit like "Their legs wired to the world/Like bibles open/To be speared." This tunes a bloody classic. 

This is followed by Jubilee Street one of Push The Sky Away's centrepieces. This is a slow burning sprawl of a song that swells and swells to its loud conclusion. Jubilee Street is one of those seedy streets that every city capital has. Cave sings classic lines like "The Problem was she had a little black book/And my name was written on every page/ Well a girl's gotta make ends meet even down on Jubilee Street/I was out of place & time/And over the hill/And out of my mind." Were these words sung by Grinderman they'd have been sung with joyous nihilism but in The Bad Seeds hands the sense of guilt and remorse close in. It must be a couple of years on in the tune when he sings "These days I go down town in my tie & tails.' .Then comes the lyric of the LP: "I've got a foetus on a leash."There are allusions to being transformed whilst the song swells into redemptive euphoria.

Mermaids is a lascivious tune from a voyeur's point of view. Yeah remember when Nick Cave was pervy ie Watching Alice from 1988's Tender Prey. That's where this track sits with a little humour. Mermaids contains great lecherous lines like "I was the match/That would fire up her snatch." Later he's "Fired from her crotch/Now I sit around and watch." Finishing Jubilee Street is creepy. I'm not fully sure what he's on about here perhaps a dream. The Bad Seeds create a dark and disturbing vibe here that shows Cave doesn't always need to whack you over the head to get his point across. The restraint and plaintive singing from Martha Skye Murphy (?) after Cave has sung words like "Last night your shadow scampers up the wall/It flied/It leaped like a black spider between your legs and cried." creates an indecent feel. It's some kind of nightmarish vision with tremendous haunted xylophone from Jim Scalvunos that plays in unison with the keys.

Higgs Boson Blues harks back to The Bad Seeds vision of American blues which First Born Is Dead from 1985 was steeped in but this time it includes the whole world as America. Visions of driving black roads, flame trees, crossroads, Robert Johnson, Lucifer, Memphis, heat, rooms with views, flop houses, preaching in new languages, bell hops, cleaning ladies, yellow patent leather shoes, being hot, Hannah Montana, monkeys with gifts, missionaries with small pox and flu, driving his car down to Geneva, rainy days and finishing with Miley Cyrus floating in a swimming pool in Taluca lake. This is Nick Cave at a career best songwriting peak. It's Steve Kilby-esque in its psychedelic fabulousness. The title track is last and it fits with the 2010s vibe of downer euphoria, conflicted feelings, luxuriant emptiness etc. Is it a lament or a paean to salad days or none of the above? One thing I do know is Push The Sky Away is one of the most beautiful songs The Bad Seeds have ever recorded.

Strange days indeed. From hate to love in 17 months. I didn't expect to be writing about this record  right now let alone making grand statements like this is one of the finest Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds albums ever recorded. No Doubt. Huh.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

True Detective Trax

Very surprised to hear this tune at the end of a True Detective episode. They don't make em like this anymore and actually they hardly made them like this at all. Sludgy psychedelia. My old band used to do a cover of this but we couldn't match this vibe one bit. Untouchable and bloody weird and bloody great.

Then there was this at the end of episode 4 and it fitted perfectly with the intense mayhem that had just occurred on screen. It made me remember how excellent Grinderman really are/were? I think what gave Grinderman their fresh new edge and the the feeling of it being a separate entity from The Bad Seeds was that it was Nick Cave's first time playing guitar (I think) on a record. They were like a brand new band despite containing four Bad Seeds members.

Loved hearing this one at the end of episode 7. I'm not really sure of its thematic connection but who cares? This is the great classic version of Lungs from his Townes Van Zandt LP from 1969. It doesn't get much better than this!

The music person on the show must have had fun putting these tunes on the show, well in the end credits actually. Funnily enough I can't stand the theme tune. It's like some z grade attempt at a Nancy & Lee song. What was this band thinking 'Our contribution to music is going to be a way lesser version of a classic duo, that's the best we can do.' Well you know what don't bloody bother, we don't need to hear it! They could have got, I dunno, Mick Harvey and Anita Lane to do the theme or just use an original Nancy & Lee track. Willie Nelson & Dolly Parton, how good what that have been? 13th Floor Elevators' Kingdom of Heaven would have done just fine. Aren't there a bunch of great musicians from Louisiana they could have used? Kevin Gates and Lil Boosie in the rap world and I'm sure there's some great folk/country musicians! Anyway it was great hear these three classics in the finest show of 2014 and one of the greatest shows on the telly ever.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Nick Cave Tribute Concert

One of the weirdest things is happening on my telly(ABC2) right now as I write. It's some kind of tribute concert to Nick Cave by indie and ...ugh!.. roots artists from like over a year ago. Its like the kids get to dress up and play Nick Cave for a night. It's truly horrible. Some of these artists should know better ie. Kram from Spiderbait who's holding down the drum spot and a bit of singing. I can't see the point at all. Nick Cave usually tours Australia once a year so you get to see him do his stuff regularly. The thing is none of these people are makin it their own, you know like what a worthwhile cover version is all about. Funnily enough Nick Cave is very good at doing this as heard on his excellent LP of covers from 1986 Kicking Against The Pricks. Some jock just did a Chuck Berry style version of Deanna. I guess Lisa Mitchell the former Australian Idol contestant turned The Ship Song into a Lisa Mitchell song, make of that what you will. Also guess what kids? Nick Cave's not dead! Hang on Paul Kelly's shown up and whatever he sings can only ever be a Paul Kelly song. He's turned Nobodies Baby Now into a song you would believe he wrote. Not only that it sounds like one of his best songs ever and it coulda been on his classic LP Comedy. Now that's how you do a cover! Is the singer from Magic Dirt tone deaf? She's turned Straight To You into something truly horrid. Very bad indeed. I want to go home now. Oh but I am at home. Hang on, you thought it couldn't get any worse but now some dude's doing a reggae version of The Weeping Song. Wow! This is comedy gold! You know what else is strange? There's bloody thousands of people at this concert. What are they doing? There's way better things to spend your time and money on. For instance chocolate, drugs, helping the needy or I don't know watching DVDs of Melrose Place. Wait more comedy! Some Aussie hip hop guy has taken the stage and is doing Stagger Lee, not really a Nick Cave song but whatever. They've turned into some lame rock opera of truly cheap proportions. Hey that's entertaining but that doesn't mean it's good. Now some bird in terrible red pants, no hang on, the worst pants ever worn is covering The Mercy Seat. This is so awful it's almost good. Abbie May plays guitar on Jack The Ripper and there is no doubting her talents on the axe. She's fucking incredible. Blixa wouldn't hate what she's up to. Then the footy player in the C & W shirt is back singing Get Ready For Love making me feel sick. Now Blixa would hate this as would Nick I reckon and as do I. Some time in the mid 90s I was drunk in the front bar of The Punters Club and Up Jumped The Devil came over the stereo. I proceeded to do a legendary performance and so memorable it was that many weeks later someone in attendance presented me with a Bad Seeds T-shirt (which I still have to this day). What I'm sayin is you shoulda been there for that and not at this absurd display.

Good cover.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Sonic Youth - Smart Bar Chicago 1985

This Smart Bar Chicago 1985 cd takes you right to the heart of the beginning of Sonic Youth's reign as the premier American underground band. This is where the noise meets the rock and the rock is introduced to the pop. I dig Confusion Is Sex and Bad Moon Rising and even though most of the material for this live date comes from Bad Moon Rising, it's different. I always thought Sonic Youth progressed quite naturally but upon hearing this I started to think that perhaps Steve Shelley was the catalyst for a more accessible, fluid and rock Sonic Youth. He was not long in the band when this concert was recorded. He injects new life into these tracks (that were played on Bad Moon Rising by Bob Bert) and you can hear the future Sonic Youth starting to come together.  Songs take on a (Can-esque) flow motion that was previously non existent. This is where the No Wave noise and post hardcore sounds begin to be sculptured into something more beautiful and sensual. This is exemplified here on an early version of Expressway To Yr Skull.  1985 was the first time I read about Sonic Youth in Juke magazine. In that article they were discussing Bad Moon Rising, the 60s, Charlie Manson and John Fogerty's comeback. The band were photographed with a scarecrow. This article/image stuck in my brain but it would have been 2 years at least until I first heard their music with Schizophrenia on the airwaves of RRR whilst visiting the big smoke.

Maybe it was the disappointment of m b v that made me buy Smart Bar Chicago 1985 and go back to MBV's original influences. Just before I dug out Dinosaur Jr's You're Living All Over Me, I listened to Isn't Anything. This LP immediately transported me back to the late 80s. Glory days I suppose. My Bloody Valentine were once raw and incredibly melodic. Their other unsung triumph was their wicked rhythm section that was sometimes at the forefront of a tune. There was light, shade, claustrophobia, ecstasy and surrealism. What happened? More to the point do I really care now? The mourning was done some time ago. We've got the old records and they're brilliant as are those of their contemporaneous influences. The aforementioned Dinosaur LP has been cranked up real loud over this last week and its blistering blissful vistas have had me ecstatic. What can I say? Wow! Geez I would love to have been writing at that time. It was so exciting and fertile. The great thing is that, that excitement is contained within some of those records still.

The live Sonic Youth cd has of course had me listening back to their Evol and Sister LPs. Is their anything left to say about those records? Except they still sound fucking awesome in 2013. I don't know where First Born Is Dead by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds fits in to all this but I've been giving that a spin too. That was a fabulous and strange record! They were just a weird little four piece band then. Blixa, Barry, Mick (on drums) and Nick. It's such a sparse LP and so powerful!

All these groups were influences on the young My Bloody Valentine.

So if you ever wondered (I haven't until now) what Bad Moon Rising would have sounded like with Steve Shelley on the skins check out Smart Bar Chicago 1985.

Retromania moves in mysterious ways. I'm in the mid to late 80s now.

Monday, 19 November 2012


Well I'm out of the hospital and recovering. This is the only overtly hospitally song I could come up with, bear in mind painkillers are in full effect. I know The Go-Betweens and Nick Cave have made references to hospitals before. There must be though a whole like mini sub-genre of hospital songs I just can't seem to think of any others at the moment. Oh hang on here's another one!

Then there must be hundreds of videos of people dressed up as nurses and doctors and I don't mean those kind of videos. But that must be one of porns greatest themes surely. Throbbing Gristle make me think of doctors and nurses.

Nurse Genesis

I was never sure if the guy on the right was like a psych nurse, a scientist or some kind of doctor. Is this the greatest LP cover ever? I could look at it forever. It brought me much amusement as a youngster and really made me think just do what you want! The music was good too. I must admit though this did just come into my life as a sleeve hanging on a wall in my first flat with the vinyl long gone. It was a few years later I heard the contents that were supposed to be contained within. I'm sure Throbbing Gristle would think that was great that I saw this cover as a piece of art for many years before hearing the tunes.

Zombie Nurse!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Martin P Casey Bassman

Shit I totally forgot about him. There's probably hundreds of tracks he's done and he's usually playing something beautiful, melodic and understated but he can also burst into the spotlight and be bass king. On early tracks like Native Bride, Dear Miss Lonely Hearts and Beautiful Waste he is doing the sweet and melodic thing as well as subtly driving those songs forward.

He's definitely the star of the show on that one. How evocative is it?! Also always reminded me of Blondie for some reason. That bass and keyboard combo is the sound of Australia's debilitating midsummer heat.
Hell Of A Summer
The Triffids

Here is Martin upfront again with a splendid jazzy almost fever like thing goin on.
My Baby Thinks She's a Train
The Triffids

Marty starting to get downright dirty and a little fonky. Totally fuckin suits him.
Property is condemned
The Triffids

I Don't Need You To Set Me Free
Not a dissimilar bassline to that Bad Seeds track Messiah Ward but this one is more to the fore.
Casey could come round and play that bassline for an hour and then I'd still want an encore. Kinda psychedelic, swirling and circular. His style is definitely unique and very versatile. You'd want him in  your group for sure. So cool.

* I could go on posting Triffids/Bad Seeds/Grinderman tracks all day. This is just a sampler of the great mans work that came off the top of my head. I didn't even get to Born Sandy Devotional or Let Love In.