Thursday, June 26th, 2008

More News From Nowhere

Photo via MySpace

If the coming of December traditionally means the season of year-end lists amongst the music geekery, it seems more and more that the coming of July means the season of mid-year lists is at hand. While it’s not a practice I’m especially fond of, I admit they can make for interesting reading for perhaps catching on to something before the “press/touring cycle” for a particular record is over. And while I’m not going to offer up a list of my own, I will present the undisputed album of the year for me so far – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!.

For well on eight years, my Nick Cave needs have been satiated by the decade-old The Best Of, which got considerably heavier rotation than many other best-ofs that played token representatives of storied careers in my CD collection, but didn’t quite compel me to start seeking out the individual albums. I had assumed, correctly or not, that Cave had settled into a dignified middle age, favouring piano ballads and orchestration and leaving the rough and raw rock leanings of his early days far behind – in other words, I figured I missed out on his good stuff.

But after the amped-up blast of lechery that was last year’s Grinderman , all my preconceptions were put on notice. This was not the sound of a man who was getting old gracefully, or perhaps more accurately, it was the sound of a man who was getting old gracefully but then changed his mind. I liked the album a lot, but it was more a sort of respect than genuine affection – this I know, because it’s honest to god love I feel for Lazarus. Taking some of the abrasiveness of Grinderman and blending it with the more grandiose sonics and songwriting of the Bad Seeds has yielded what, for my relatively limited frame of reference, is everything I would imagine and hope Nick Cave could be. Ranging from the darkly hilarious storytelling of the title track through the sinister drone of “Night Of The Lotus Eaters” to the guitar-shredding fury of “Lay Down Here (And Be My Girl)”, Lazarus is grim, gleeful and glorious.

Their Fall North American tour and the October 1 show at the Kool Haus in particular is currently circled on my calendar (figuratively speaking) as the single event this year I’m most looking forward to – there’s not many acts that I’ve not yet seen live yet, let alone ones that I’m as enthused about as I am about Cave, currently. In the interim, I’m getting better acquainted with his back catalog – I picked up Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus whilst in London and it’s as stunning as everyone said, and I’ve also gotten No More Shall We Part which, while also good, is exactly the mellowed-out Cave that I expected before this whole discovery process got underway. Anyone want to make more suggestions for essential Cave? I want – nay, NEED – more.

MP3: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Night Of The Lotus Eaters”
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “More News From Nowhere”
MySpace: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

We were talking about mid-year lists, weren’t we? Drowned In Sound picked a dozen records from the first half of the year, listed in three parts with a tally of the best songs of the year to follow today. No Nick Cave, unbelievably, though The Chicago Sun-Times and Michigan Live make no such oversight. The AV Club also offers up their picks for the best songs of the year so far. AllMusic Guide takes a slightly different tact, compiling a list of their indie pop Summer crushes for the year.

Junkmedia, Billboard, An Aquarium Drunkard and Paste talk to David Berman of Silver Jews and Pitchfork has the full dates of their Fall tour to go along the already-announced September 2 Toronto date at Lee’s Palace.

Liz Phair’s reissued Exile In Guyville is currently spinning on Spinner. New York Magazine talks to Phair about the power of a topless photo.

Stream: Liz Phair / Exile In Guyville

Muzzle Of Bees asks five questions of Maria Taylor, who is at the El Mocambo tonight. Congrats to Jordan, Kelly and Hok who won the passes to the show.

NOW chats with Alex Maas of The Black Angels, who’re playing Lee’s Palace tonight. Congrats to Thierry, Matt and Stuart who won the passes to the show.

Spin, The Arizona Daily Star and The New Zealand Herald get acquainted with Fleet Foxes, in town at the Phoenix on July 16.

Billboard Q&As Neil Young about the forthcoming CSNY: Deja Vu documentary coming out July 10.

Trailer: CSNY: Deja Vu

Exclaim! and The Globe & Mail profile Wolf Parade, who will bring their new record At Mount Zoomer to the Kool Haus on August 9.

Reuters examines the Feist-powered boom for Arts & Crafts. Spinner talks to Brendan Canning, whose Something For All Of Us… will be the label’s next release on July 22.

Some more local stuff worthy of note – the July 26 show at Sneaky Dee’s featuring Miracle Fortress and Think About Life now features a couple of bands with a significant amount of chatter around them – Adam & The Amethysts and Ruby Coast. Tickets are $12 in advance.

MP3: Adam & The Amethysts – “Stupid Ocean”
MP3: Adam & The Amethysts – “The Return”

SummerWorks is a staple of the Toronto theatre scene every Summer, but this year they’ve added a music component to things. Running August 8 to 16 at the Theatre Centre – aka The Great Hall – it will feature a host of local talent including Gentleman Reg, The Diableros, Rock Plaza Central and The Rural Alberta Advantage in double-bills each night. Full details and schedule at their website.

Speaking of the RAA, they’ll be at Rancho Relaxo on July 10 and tonight, said venue will play host to Oh No Forest Fires and Hot Panda. Both shows definitely worth your time.

By : Frank Yang at 8:42 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Tug says:

    As far as Nick Cave goes, I’d say that working backwards through the catalog hitting the big albums would be best. ‘Murder Ballads’ is exactly as awesome as it sounds. Then I’d hit ‘Let Love In,’ ‘Tender Prey,’ and ‘From Her to Eternity.’ And since I know you like covers, ‘Kicking Against the Pricks’ would probably be good to pick up too. His cover of ‘Black Betty’ is amazing. And while I’m not sure that Cave’s Birthday Party work is essential, checking out the Best of would give you a good idea as to where his musical career started.

  2. heydrinks says:

    Let Love In, Henry’s Dream and Murder Ballads are the three essentials.
    Plus the double live Abbatoir blues is unreal..

  3. Thierry says:

    I’ll second the recommendation for Murder Ballads, The Boatman’s Call deserves all of the five stars that Q gave it at the time (it’s his passionate love letter to Polly Jean Harvey) and would add that – unusually, for that type of release – the three-cd B-Sides & Rarities compilation is as essential as anything else in his catalog (and includes the "Black Betty" cover).

  4. Sandusky says:

    My ear was first converted to Cave shortly after "Let Love In" was released. That was the album that hooked me deep. In addition to Tug’s recommendations, I’ve always been a tremendous fan of "The Firstborn is Dead".

  5. MB77 says:

    It’s my problem, I know. I just can’t think about Nick Cave without thinking about The Hilarious House Of Frightenstein. I just can’t.

  6. Jordan says:

    Murder Ballads is quite good, but I wouldn’t call it essential, nor would I recommend it as the best entry point into the back catalogue. The catalogue entries that best showcase Nick’s songwriting are certainly Let Love In and The Boatman’s Call; but I’d also make an argument for Henry’s Dream as a starting point.

    While LLI and MB were the albums that got me into the guy back in high school, I only picked up HD about five years ago and think it’s tremendous. It’s a good mix of fierce thrashers, more blues-inflected numbers, and ballads – two of his best ever entries in the latter category are here, in Straight to You and the hugely underappreciated Loom of the Land. Overall, it probably does the best job of combining the different facets of his writing.

    The problem I have with HD is that the production friggin’ sucks, and on CD the sound is thin and weak. You overlook that, it’s a heck of a record.

    There’s one other underappreciated entry in his catalogue that I’d lobby you to pick up a few months after these other three – that’s the Live Seeds album from the early ’90s. It’s got the definitive version of Deanna on it, as well as some interpretations of Henry’s Dream stuff that I prefer to the studio takes.

  7. Eugene says:

    Another mid-year list:

  8. Chris says:

    frank, head straight for Let Love In and Henry’s Dream – both absolutely awesome and they still stand as Cave’s definitive musical statements. personally, I’d avoid Murder Ballads – overated. Nocturama is definately underated though

  9. mike says:

    Head down to HMV 333 Yonge St., because they have a bunch of Nick Cave/Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ older albums(ie. I believe albums from the first half of his career) on sale – $9.99 or possibly cheaper. They’re on the second floor across from the main cash registers.