Whores, guns and one-eyed wierdos. DIG!!! People!!! DIG!!!
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! – Album Of The Week
Astonished doesn’t come close. The arrival of a new Nick Cave record in these quarters is usually greeted with a shrug. No, not even a shrug – it’s not greeted with anything because that’s what we’ve come to expect of Cave. Nothing.
Nothing, but a whiff of indifference as we’ve heard the 50-year-old’s demonic preacherman routine a thousand times and more. And save for Red Right Hand, it’s about as interesting as Fulham v Middlesbrough.
So, when his 14th record landed it very nearly began life as a coaster. How wrong can one be?
From the barnstorming title track, Cave and the rest of the Bad Seed rotters are on devastating, white-hot form, infused with the kind of swagger you simply can’t buy. Just reading the inlay book is thrilling enough, what with the CAPITALS, exclamation marks and lyrical mania bounding from the white.
Exhibit A, We Call Upon The Author, finds Cave in genius rant-mode, every line a killer, while a loopy San Fran organ boogie flirts with the Seeds’ train-crash of Blues riffs and ‘doop, doop, doop’ chanting. It’s wild and carnivalesque and it’s this addled excitement that permeates the entire record.
Today’s Lesson is its equal in psychotic rambunctious delirium; all lurid imagery concerning ‘Mr Sandman the inseminator’ who likes to ‘congregate around the intersection of Janie’s jeans‘.
The cast of debauched characters and their tales of filth is spectacular and even when the pace drops it’s rarely short of fascinating with Night of the Lotus Eaters recalling the voodoo lurch of Dr John‘s Gris Gris and Hold On To Yourself the quintessential cinematic epic conjuring up widescreen imagery from Cave’s recent projects on The Proposition and The Assassination of Jesse James; all scratchy Fender mandocaster loops courtesy of the brilliant Warren Ellis and windswept guitars.
The eight-minute More News From Nowhere wraps things up in dazzling style; a Velvet Underground-aping waltz which if were alive in human form would without a doubt top any cool list. Every. Fucking. Year.
Quite simply I’m amazed. Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! is incredible. Nick Cave has just delivered 2008’s biggest kick in the bollocks.
For fans of: Dirt, grime and rock & roll.
Atlas Sound: Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
Deerhunter’s Cryptograms was undeniably one of the records of 2007, and as good as singer Bradford Cox‘s first full long-player is, there’s no escaping it pales in comparison to his band’s debut.
Where the Atlanta five-piece’s morphed from ambient drone into cutting psyche, Cox’s Atlas Sound is firmly stuck in the former laying down a hypnotic float of languid psychosis.
His barely-there whisper is submerged beneath crisp chinks of feather-weight beats, synthetic atmospheres and humming electro dream which is both unnerving and ethereal. Only problem is you get the impression Cox is so adept at foraging into this landscape he could, and maybe has, produced some of this in his sleep.
For fans of: Nightmares.
Goldfrapp: Seventh Tree
If you believe what you’ve read, Seventh Tree is a folk record. If that’s the case, then Kasabian‘s Empire is prog.
Sure, Alison is hardly frigging herself off with a donkey dick-shaped sequencer anymore, but this is hardly Vashti Bunyan picnic music.
Gone, for the most part, are the pole-dancing electro excursions into the explicit but in it’s place is less Fairport Convention and more downbeat, svelte pop presumably designed for those taxi rides home after one too many tablets.
Where it works (Happiness, Caravan Girl and latest single A&E) the luxurious textures are an ideal accompaniment for the day after the night before, but too often the lull morphs into Zero 7 territory and you find yourself overdosing on vast quantities of meh.
For fans of: Bubble machines.
Lupe Fiasco: The Cool
Quite probably the best hip hop record we’ve heard since Kanye’s Graduation. The Cool is an epic slice of ridiculous rhyme, hyper-kinetic voxs and best of all a dynamic range of styles dripping in seemingly-effortless class.
From the faux-sitar inflected riff in Intruder, to the Snoop-assisted party grind of Hi-Definition, the cyclical acoustic thrum of Gotta Eat and the thudding glass-cut diamond Little Weapon, The Cool is littered with heavy-weight material defying classification.
Seek it out and consume en masse.
For fans of: Cop shows.
Jukes: We Might Disappear
You can imagine Tammy Payne sitting beneath a weeping willow idling the day away with her free-flowing verses meandering round her little head.
Ironic, given her back story of playing on cruise-liners as a teen and engaging in road trips across the US, Brazil and North Africa. This exoticism is barely reflected in her music, mind, which is rooted in playful folk and understated melancholia.
Where We Might Disappear works best though, is when Payne deviates from the wistful, like on the menacing chug of The Stupidest Things; a subtle drenching of feedback laced over a psychedelic back-beat like Electrelane frugging with BRMC. It’s just a shame she doesn’t do it more often.
For fans of: Syd Barrett, rugs, saucers of milk.