Yet another new segment I will kick off. Simply titled My Obsession, I will take a look into my newest and latest musical obsessions. Every month or so I go through an obsession with an artist that I have long wanted to listen to. This month it has come down to that of Nick Cave.
My first brush with Nick Cave was only a few months ago. I've known his song "Red Right Hand" thanks in part to its usage in none other than the brilliant Dumb and Dumber. You know the scene. "The elderly, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, still can serve a purpose."
Anyway, more legitimately, Nick Cave has come to mind when the amazing film The Proposition came out. He wrote the screenplay and did the soundtrack with Warren Ellis. The film is amazingly brutal, much like what I would find in Cave's lyrics, but something was enrapturing about it. The soundtrack is amazingly minimal and haunting with the strings of Ellis and the piano arrangements really bone chillingly beautiful. That was all I had of Nick Cave's until I recently got around to watching the masterpiece that is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Yet another soundtrack care of Cave and Ellis, it's the same simplistic beauty and grandiose minimalism of The Proposition (yeah I guess that's an oxy moron but it works if you listen to it.) I decided to take the plunge and look into some Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, his most enigmatic group. He is one Australian badass that captivates with quality music and quality lyrics. This proves to be the best move I made in a while...maybe since I became overly obsessed with Tim Buckley by randomly buying an LP of his in Lancaster, PA at an amazing record store on a whim (and on the knowledge of his being Jeff's father.... but I digress.)
My first line of attack into the affairs of Cave and the Bad Seeds was Tender Prey. The album is a haunting amalgam of sounds and jaunty tunes of gothic goodness. His signature track, "The Mercy Seat" is a phenomenal half spoken word, half desperately sung death row repentance track that is an amazing testimony to the stylistic qualities Cave can hit as well as the poetic nature of his lyrics. The music swirls and twists along like a train hurtling through the night. "Up Jumped the Devil" is my personal favorite track at the moment with a Tom Waits feel. jaunty pianos and growling baritone vocals tell the story of a damned man's life as the Devil waits in the wings to collect his soul.
At the suggestion of fans from the amazingly helpful wonderous website last.fm, I picked up Murder Ballads next in order to fulfill my need for more amazing tracks from Mr. Cave. What a brutal album, in the best way possible. "Song of Joy" is ironically joyless. His duet with none other than Kylie Minogue on "Where the Wild Roses Grow" is chillingly gorgeous. My favorite is the chewed up and spit out version of the traditional track "Stagger Lee." Enough grit is poured to give the repetitious traditional track a new life more brutal than it ever had. The album is obviously about the crimes of passion of sociopaths, but the poetic structures make it more of an existential statement than just a shock factor. It's artistic philosophy.
The last.fm charts on my page are sure to be crazy filled with anything Nick Cave next week when they update my weekly charts and that won't change until I get more of his albums and soak them up. His new disc Dig! Lazarus! Dig! has some great tracks, but I've only streamed it so far as I want to get into more back catalog before diving into the newest treats.