Hey folks. A few updates regarding the site. I’m currently in the process of moving into a new apartment and starting several new contracts in the work-world. I also have a lot of stuff coming up on weekends (relatives in town, followed by travel, followed by, at the end of May, Sasquatch! Festival) so I’m going to be pretty swamped for the next month or so. That’ll mean that my reviews will no doubt be late.
In that vein, I’m delaying my Flight of the Conchords review until next Tuesday. *Waits for the jeers and boos to die down.* Sorry, but I’ve barely gotten a chance to listen to the album (I’m a much amused fan of it so far), and I’m not terribly long on time.
So no review this week, but check back next week.
I will, however, be starting something I did last year (can you believe my blog’s finally old enough to have yearly traditions?): the Annual(!) Sasquatch! Festival Preview. I’ll be hopefully posting an artist from the lineup every day or so from tomorrow up until the start of the festival.
For now, though, here’s a video from a new supergroup (composed of Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys and Miles Kane from the Rascals) called The Last Shadow Puppets. “The Age of the Understatement” is the first single off their debut album of the same name, which is out May 6th on Domino Records.
“Hotel Chelsea Nights”, Ryan Adams, off of Love Is Hell:
My favorite track off my favorite Ryan Adams album.
Offered without further comment, a cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” performed on ukeleles:
Check out GUGUG’s YouTube channel for more Ukelele covers.
Well, with the 3-1-1 spread of last week’s voting, it looks like I’ll be reviewing the new Flight of the Conchords album. So please tune in next week for that. Which is a touch of a shame, since I’ve been listening to Tokyo Police Club’s “Tessellate” fairly obsessively the past couple weeks. (Check it out on their MySpace.) Still, the Flight of the Conchords album should be pretty good. I caught a few episodes of their TV show awhile ago at my brother’s place and it proved to be absolutely hilarious.
But the week is long and while you’re all waiting with bated breath for my review, why not take a moment to peruse your weekly voting options?
The Constantines, Kensington Heights (LINK)
Madonna, Hard Candy (LINK)
Mindless Self Indulgence, If (LINK)
Portishead, Third (LINK)
The Roots, Rising Down (LINK)
Artist: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Album: Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Label: Mute Reviews
Release Date: Tuesday, 2008.4.8
Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, the fourteenth studio album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is proof positive that the venerable group is as powerful and talented now as they’ve ever been. The album ties together the dark narrative style of Cave’s lyrics with mythic themes with dark, dirty melodies and complex, evocative arrangements to create a grimly beautiful package. It packs a surreal, visceral punch while still being exceptionally listenable and aesthetically engaging.
One interesting aspect of the album is that it covers the whole breadth of the band’s various styles. While songs like “More News From Nowhere” or “Moonland” walk a fine line between abstract impressionism and absurdity. Others, like the funky “Today’s Lesson” capitalize on Cave’s ability as a storyteller to deliver powerful narratives with strongly mythic overtones. Still others, like “We Call Upon the Author” display a glibly literate sensibility.
As always, however, Cave is at his strongest when he’s spinning apologues. Cave’s ability to create and relay fables is, at times, stunning. One excellent example of this is the title and lead track (and first single off the album), “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!”. This groovy retelling of the Lazarus (called Larry) myth looks at it from Lazarus’ point of view. He shows a crazed Lazarus self-destructing and ending up back in the grave. As Cave astutely points out Lazarus “never asked to be raised up from the tomb.” As Lazarus is entreated in the chorus to “dig [himself] back in the hole”, the song portrays a man who doesn’t actually want to be saved and asks the question “what do we really know of the dead and who actually cares?”
The album also has several less narrative, more imagistic songs. The hollow-sounding, muted “Night of the Lotus Eaters”, for instance, is a psychedelic portrait of heroin use (a topic with which Nick Cave has some experience). The lyrics hint punningly at drug abuse (“Get ready to shoot yourself / Grab your sap and your heater”) while painting a fatalistic picture of the “night of the lotus eaters”. The dark bass hook which melodically underpins the entire song sets a dark, vaguely exotic mood, while harmonies and percussion parts flesh out the surreal, almost apocalyptic sound.
While the album is, like most Bad Seeds albums, extremely lyrically-driven, the instrumental work is also quite extraordinary. The compositions are intricate and engaging, without losing anything in the way of casual listening. Martyn Casey’s bass work is infectiously hooky where it’s prominent (“Jesus on the Moon” and “Today’s Lesson”) and solidly supportive where it’s not (“More News From Nowhere”). Mick Harvey’s guitar work is superb throughout the album. The percussion work is solid and groovy.
Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is a perfect display of what a group talented, passionate, experienced musicians can do. It’s at turns chilling, grin-inducing, and thought-provoking, and it’s a great listen throughout. For me, it was a welcome change from the decidedly hit-or-miss Grinderman album that Cave put out last year. It’s highly recommended both for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds fans and those who might like dark, groovy, lyric-driven rock. Put simply, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is a smart, fun album that proves not only the Nick Cave and Co. can rock, but that they’re still capable of producing truly brilliant material.
So any long-time reader of the blog knows that I’m a pretty big fan of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. So it should surprise no one that, since Mike tipped me off to the new NIN single, “Discipline”, I’ve been unable to take it off repeat.
I offer it to you, in the hopes that you might be similarly addicted:
Why did no one tell me about the amazingness that is Cover Freak before now?
I’ve been listening to the Killers cover of this tune (thanks to the wonderful Ms. Ann) all day today. So here’s the original. Morrissey doing “Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself” originally off of Vauxhall and I:
Sasquatch! Festival tickets acquired. After a cursory head count, it looks like we’ll have one more seat in the van from Spokane if anyone else wants to tag along.