Album Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away

Anyone who knows me, or even anyone who doesn’t really know me but reads this blog has to understand how much I absolutely love and adore Nick Cave. Nick Cave the musician, the writer, the actor, the poet, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Grinderman, The Birthday Party… I feel like I have spent most of my life listening to Nick Cave, reading Nick Cave, seeing Nick Cave in concert and so forth. I literally wait for every new album with baited breath, knowing full well that I will never be disappointed. Granted, there are a few albums that I listen to less than others, but I’ve never disliked anything that he and the Bad Seeds have ever produced.

February 18th, 2013 has been outlined in red on my calendar ever since the release date of the 15th studio album, Push the Sky Away was published. My Christmas gift from my brother last year was a pre-order of the limited edition deluxe version of the album (that I hope will arrive tomorrow). I had already previewed the album when it was streaming on NPR Radio last week, but I spent this morning in bed listening to it and taking notes, not wanting to leave the universe that the Bad Seeds had yet again created for me. Listening to this album brings me right back to the same emotions and feelings I had when I first listened to No More Shall We Part back in 2001 (emotions that I still feel every time I listen to it). Happiness, sadness, laughter, pain, intensity, lightness, heartbreak, love; an emotional turmoil that doesn’t leave you until well after the album is over, one that you want to revisit as many times as possible.

If you watch the short making of video that comes with the album download you learn that for this album the band took a different direction than they were used to taking. Instead of creating the songs in the usual Bad Seeds manner, this time Nick Cave would write the lyrics without any type of chords or music in mind, and would bring them to the band to create songs with. On the first listen you can tell that the make-up and creation process was a lot different, and there is an element of surprise (good surprise), but then it feels normal, like an organic process in the band, a new era in the Bad Seeds life, one that works excellently. This is yet another reason why I love this band so much – they never use what has always worked for them in the past and continue along the same route in order to sell records. Instead they surprise themselves and their audience and never give up on enhancing their creation process and the quality of their art. That said, the album may sound different, but it definitely still has that Bad Seeds sound that I love so much.

Every Bad Seeds album has its own underlying theme and Push The Sky Away is no different. A lot of the stories that each song is composed of are based in Brighton (which also happens to be where Nick Cave resides nowadays). I can conjure up images of the seaside in the winter and summer, grey skies and bright sun, and via the recurring water metaphors that can be found in most songs I feel both at peace but also thrown around and churned up by rising swells.  At first glance the entire album sounds stripped down, especially if compared to the previous release, Dig, Lazurus, Dig!!!, but that is quite deceptive. Each song is a story backed by intricate string loops, bass lines, drum beats and background vocals. I feel that at times Warren Ellis creates an element of fear with his strings, but other times the sounds are comforting and warm, at times creating a dissonance with the lyrics, at other times matching the mood entirely.

“The past is the past and it’s here to stay” – We Real Cool

I have no favourite song as of right now, I am still letting the entire album create its permanent imprint on my brain and heart, but a few stand out after the first few listens. Jubilee Street exists in every town and city and everyone can relate to the lyrics and to the sadness the music evokes. The video is stunning too, dark and blurry and probing. 

“You wave and wave with wide lovely eyes, Distant waves and waves of distant love, You wave and say goodbye” Wide Lovely Eyes

Often I feel like I am sitting in a room with Nick Cave and all of the Bad Seeds, and a few other people, drinking wine, smoking cigarettes and listening to him tell us about the dream he had last night, embellishing it with metaphors and images of water, of human nature, of death and decay and ultimately of beauty. Higgs Boson Blues seems to encapsulate the entire feeling of the album in words. The song creates a web of folklore, word play, gloomy, gory stories punctured through-out with mentions of culture, pop culture, history, religion and anti-religion. I love how this song just builds up and makes you feel uncomfortable but completely at ease at the same time. 

“Rainy days always make me sad”  - Higgs Boson Blues

The final song on the album, Push The Sky Away resonates with hope within despair, an image of survival . This song makes me cry, just because it’s so true: “You've got to just, Keep on pushing, Keep on pushing, Push the sky away”. It’s the perfect ending to the album, lifting you up with the beautifully eerie violin sounds, and leaving you feeling elated and ready to take on another day. 

There are really no other words that can evoke the beauty of this entire album, the only way to really experience it is to listen to it and let it take you wherever you need it to take you. My love for Nick Cave will never dwindle, especially as he continues to make me feel this way through his music, and never fails to do anything else. I know I am not alone in thinking this… An ongoing inspiration in my life.

Ramblings: The end of 2012 (and the beginning of 2013)

Last night I was lying in bed with the lights out, listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds No More Shall We Part, ready to drift off to sleep when I was suddenly transported back to 2001. Same music, same position, probably even facing the same direction, but thousands of miles apart, in a different country and a different time. It was such a weird feeling, being in two places, two times, all at once, showing me that some things just never really change…

2012 has been an interesting, strange, ultimately good, sometimes bad year, with moments of pure sadness and happiness, moments that I would love to relive and moments I would rather bury deep in the ground and forget forever. Some missteps, many bounds forward, quite a few stumbles and some big tumbles. I feel like I was very diligent in my writing during the first six months of the year, but let it drop to the background due to procrastination, a loss of inspiration and confidence during the last quarter. Although I do find that what I wrote over the summer and the autumn is better than anything I wrote last year. Some of it I am ready to show to others and already have done, other pieces will remain unread by anyone other than myself for a while. I have several different projects in the pipeline for 2013, but they will remain in my head until I feel ready enough to fully complete them. I feel that I have failed in certain ways this year and don’t want these new projects to follow the same trajectory. 

As with my writing, I started 2012 off with many photography projects, and since August haven’t really picked up my camera, let alone taken it out on a tour anywhere. I feel I made great steps forward when I finally managed to fully use the manual settings on my DSLR properly and start experimenting with different shots, but then lost all inspiration again. I took some film, remembered how much I absolutely adored black and white prints, and then lost interest again. I already have different plans for the New Year, and a new lens that will be arriving shortly that will hopefully help mimic my film prints on my DSLR. I am also intent on buying the Fuji camera that I have wanted for over a year now, once I finally save up for it properly. That won’t come until after my holiday in Jamaica though!

This time last year I was completely broke, trying (and failing) to make ends meet and trying to figure out what I actually really wanted to do with myself. Everything sorted itself out brilliantly after several stints working in different places, as I now work at my old job as well as in a restaurant right next door, and feel happy to be at both places. At least now I am financially stable again, although I still need to find a balance between work that pays the rent and everything else I want to do. I need to go back to writing at least 5,000 words a week, instead of less than 1,000. Finish more books again instead of tiring of them after 100 pages. Spending more time at home and being productive rather than on Orchard St getting myself into trouble. Finding my focus again this week after letting it go astray for months has been a complete blessing. Now it’s time to rein it in and wrap it around myself again, never to let it off its leash again.

Friendships come and go over time, but this year has seen the definite end of some and the beginning of others. The sadness from seeing some friends disappear is more than cancelled out by the blossoming of other amazing friendships. In my opinion friendship is never a one way road, it takes time, work, give and take on both sides, and while some people will surprise you with their consistency and love, others disappoint you with their willingness to give up in front of a hurdle that seems a little bit too high to step over. There are times that you need to take a leap to be rewarded, so if you never take it, how on earth are you ever going to really feel happy? Friendships that end are never a one-sided problem, they come from both sides, there aren’t any real right or wrongs, just not enough effort put in and probably not enough love to see it through to the other side. And, in a way, that’s OK. Time goes by, and others are always there, not to replace anyone, because one friend can never replace another, but just to take part of the love that you can no longer give to those who are just not around anymore. I feel like this year I have met some absolutely wonderful people who I can’t imagine my life without anymore. People who make you laugh and who care about you, who motivate you and who have the guts to tell you (kindly) when you are making a mess of things, and vice versa. I cherish these new friendships as much as I cherish the old friendships that are still going strong.

I’m not very good at summing up an entire year in a few words, especially not the last one, and some things are just too personal to post on here. Instead I will just post a few links to blog posts that I feel highlighted certain aspects of it, ups and downs, and leave it at that.



And as I can never write a post without some kind of music reference, I will just post a link to a playlist I made for this year. All of the songs except for one were released during the year and all come from albums that helped me get through this year in one piece.

2012 in Music (direct link to Spotify)

Happy New Year! May 2013 be rich in happiness and productivity!

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - June 2001 concert review

Just because I will never ever feel jaded when it comes to music, as long as bands and musicians like this still exist... I wrote this the day after I saw Nick Cave at the Transbordeur in Lyon in 2001, and 11 years on it's still one of the best shows I have ever been to. So here is what I wrote in my diary back in 2001, the day after the show:

Saturday 9th June 2001 - Grenoble, France
I saw the best concert I'd ever been to last night: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Strangely enough I didn't feel as hysterically excited as I did before the Cure concert last year, it was all more calm. Maud and I were the first people to arrive at the Transbordeur (in Lyon), and as we were sitting in the carpark, smoking cigarettes and reading I saw Nick Cave go by... He is as absolutely gorgeous in the flesh as he is in pictures and on the screen. The man is everything: character, humour, uncharacteristic gorgeousness - anyway, he really is just this whole image. First it started with his music (this mini obsession I have with him) - when I was younger Louise used to listen to him all the time and I used to pretend to hate it, and then suddenly I fell in love, and now I can't go a day without listening to him. Anyway, it's a whole: the music, the person, the lyrics... Anyway, where was I?
The doors to the hall were opened around 7pm, and Maud and myself didn't even think of grabbing first row places, we ended up going up the steps, middle back, where we had a great view and we could sit down, and we weren't far from the front at all. The support band was not that good, well I didn't like it anyway. Australian band lacking in many things, especially atmosphere.

And then Nick Cave. It's undescribable really. The band started off with Do You Love Me? (great way to start!), and continued on, with many songs from the last album (at the time was No More Shall We Part), beautiful songs, especially the one I had difficulty containing my tears to, Hallelujah, others like Red Right Hand, The Mercy Seat, Henry, Into My Arms and many more. Nick Cave was wonderful, he's still full of energy, of anger, of pain... So were the Bad Seeds, although I found Blixa to have a little less energy than the rest, maybe he's always like that. Anyway, the audience was great, except for the idiot stagediver, you couldn't hear anyone during the slower songs, total respect, followed by thundering applause and cries.
When they left the stage the first time the whole audience was so heated up, front to back, that everyone felt as one big clap and stamp of the foot. They came back twice, two encores.

Excellent, fabulous, enchanting, too short, but it would never have been long enough. I want to see it again and again and again and again... I feel some kind of sense of fulfillment though, I saw Nick Cave and it was brilliant, even better than I could have expected, and I will see him again in a few years. That voice... So powerful and beautiful. To be honest, they are even better live than on album, and that is extremely difficult. They are all so together on stage. I can't explain all the emotions I felt during the concert, but it's all there and here, in my head and in my heart.

After the concert was the slight problem of getting home. Now Maud and I usually have a total lack of organisation going on, it's like we will organise the logistics of doing something and getting there, and the rest will work itself out. I love it. So we really didn't know how to get back to Grenoble (note: Grenoble is about 100km through the mountains from Lyon). We had the train timetable and saw that the last thing back to Grenoble was a bus from the Part Dieu station. We had 20 minutes to get there. We tried to hitch a ride and thankfully a nice couple dropped us off right in front of the station. We ran around looking for the buses, found where they were and looked for ours. Not there. Ten minutes later I looked at the timetable again and realised that it was only valid from June 10th onwards. That bus didn't even exist yet!!! Thankfully there was a train to Grenoble at twenty past midnight so we drank cappuccinos waiting for it and sang Henry Lee and Do You Love Me? on the train. I tell you we were lucky because otherwise we would have been hanging around in Lyon until 6am!!! Not that we really cared we were on such an emotional high.
Anyway, I have my literature exam on Monday, my last exam this year, so I had better go and finish reading Macbeth again. I hope the exam will be with Mme Blattes and that it will be on The French Lieutenant's Woman... I can't wait for it to be over at last.

Thank God for the pure existence of Nick Cave.

Note: The official live DVD released for this tour was actually the footage of this show in Lyon. Another note: I have seen Nick Cave many a time since then and he is always amazing.

Playlist - male voices

A few weeks ago I posted a playlist of female voices/fronted bands, and right afterwards I started working on the male version. This one took me AGES to make, and I had to trim it down a lot. I know that I have forgotten some, but all of these are special to me. Really special. Bring back a million memories special. Make me cry special (well, that's not really that difficult to do). Just... Ah listen to it. I don't really have anything else to say as I can't say it better than the music does.

Here is the playlist on Spotify:
Voices Men

Tim Buckley, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, David Bowie, The Cure, Bauhaus etc etc etc. Just... Listen.

The “other” Nick Cave

I think you should feel blessed if you find yourself named Nick Cave. This name seems to be synonymous with wonderful artistic talent. If you don’t know already, I absolutely love, adore and admire Nick Cave (musician, novelist, poet), but today I was introduced to another artist by the name of Nick Cave thanks to my friend Jono. Nick Cave is an artist/sculptor/dancer, best known for his amazing “Soundsuits”, sculptures that are also costumes and can be worn as such.

Right now, there is a Nick Cave exhibition at the Jack Shainman Gallery in Chelsea (see link for more details on the location and to read the gallery’s press release on Nick Cave). The exhibition is called “Ever-After” and is comprised of four separate areas, as well as a video. The video contains a reel of Nick Cave and other dancers wearing other suits and dancing, at one point using pogosticks! Pretty amazing seeing as I don’t know how they could see properly as the suits camouflage the individuals completely. While the video itself is a blast of colour and movement, the rest of the exhibition provides a stark contrast.

The first part is a line of suits made entirely out of real blond human hair. The models are all positioned a little differently, and they kind of look like they are going to start moving on the spot at any given time. The whole human hair aspect is pretty amazing, because not one hair is the exact same colour, and the suits are all made up of lots and lots of slightly different shades of light blond hair. The models all have bunny ears too, and the set is called “Mating Season”, so I will leave it up to your imagination to picture the ideas behind the suits.

When you move towards the back of the gallery there are three other sets of figures. The first one is comprised of 5 or 6 figures of different shapes and sizes, all made out of thousands of white, silver and black buttons sewn onto fabric one at a time by hand. Each figure has a specific individual touch (a metal basket, red fur, wicker basket…). Although they are all separate, all of the models seem to form a unity together. The next two sets are both a set of models all linked together, with slightly different forms and positions, the first set being dark and metallic, the second being white. In the same way as the unit of individual suits, these sets are all made with thousands of buttons. I can’t believe they were all sewn on by hand, it must have taken hours and hours of work! All these buttons give the suits a metallic sheen as well as a strange fluidity, a little like liquid metal. It’s REALLY cool. I mean REALLY COOL. You actually can imagine the suits in movement… I want to wear one, hide in one, and use dance as a form of expression. Hide my face and body and express my feelings in a different way.

I don’t usually go and check out any of the art galleries in Chelsea very often, but I really should start. I really enjoyed this exhibition and I’m sure there are a bunch of other artistic gems out there that I have yet to discover for myself!

The Nick Cave exhibition finishes on October 8th.

Nick Cave site

Nick Cave Facebook

Happy Monday! Nick Cave & Warren Ellis LOVE

Just because it's Monday and most people are sitting at their desks now hating life (not me!).

I took shot this at the Grinderman show at the Best Buy Theater on November 14th 2010. One of the best shows of last year. I know I have posted about this before, but I'm obsessed with these guys, so you will just have to deal with it :)

For some amazing photography from that night, please have a look at super photographer Dana (distortion) Yavin's collection HERE

In the next few days I will be posting an interview with Dana - look out for it!


Gothic revival time

The below all took place in the 90's - I am obviously feeling extremely nostalgic right now!

I remember swooning over Peter Murphy and dancing in dark-lit basement bars to She's In Parties... Waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of Nick Cave before sound check... Listening to The Cure every day for YEARS, dreaming about the day that Robert Smith would marry ME and take me away to his little house in the English countryside, and re-write Love Song for ME... Dancing to Skinny Puppy amidst swirling dresses, and lace, and EBM fanatics doing push ups on the dance floor... Traveling to Lyon just to hang out with VNV Nation, falling asleep on the train on the way home... Crying to Project Pitchfork and the sadness of "Renascence" (I can still sing it from memory)... Long, long hair, black dresses, black cape, Doc Martens... Red wine and Marlboro lights... Writing dark poetry under black candlelight... Baudelaire and de Nerval, Byron, Keats and Shelley...
And who could forget, "Some Kind of Stranger" by The Sisters of Mercy... I have my mum to thank for that one...

I wish I could recreate the exact atmosphere of my life back then, it was so fragile, intense, happy and sad... I was listening to Incubus Succubus this morning, and it brought me right back to that place. I think it's time for a gothic revival party!

Grinderman @ Best Buy Theater NYC 11/14/2010

I NEED to blog about this show, but I have been having the week from hell at work, and haven't even had a chance to really sleep (literally), let alone do anything else outside of working. It's all worth it though, I hope.

Anyway, back to real important news. Grinderman. Nick Cave. MY HUSBAND Nick Cave. Ha! In my eyes Nick Cave can do no wrong. Musically, lyrically, physically etc etc. I have loved him for so long that I can't even remember the time that I disliked him (and yes, I did, back in my very young years when my Aunt Louise kept going on about how amazing he was). I love him in all of his incarnations, The Boys Next Door, The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Grinderman, Nick Cave the Novelist, Nick Cave the Poet, Nick Cave the Screenwriter, Nick Cave the movie soundtrack score writer. Ok I need to stop. Let's just say that I am obsessed with the guy.
Oh I nearly forgot - he's even in my second favourite movie of all time, Wings of Desire.

Enough. You all get the idea. He's a genius and I LOVE HIM. I don't even have one favourite song or album - ask me that question and you will get about 20 answers, depending on my mood, the time of the day, if I am hungry or thirsty or bored or happy...
I'm blown away whenever I see him, be it on stage in one of his bands, walking down the street, or reading his writing. He has such a presence and a magnetism...

Anyway, the show was of course, amazing, and I still feel like it was very surreal. Dana and I were pretty much at the front (we would have been right in the front had I not been stuck answering work emails until the last minute), and there were moments that Nick Cave was literally standing over me, staring into my eyes (I mean of course, what else would he be doing?!). Grinderman take me back to The Birthday Party days, to the tongue-in-cheek Nick Cave, to the Nick Cave who likes to ROCK and have a blast. 90 minutes of pure (smart) rock n roll. Nothing is bad or goes wrong in the presence of my husband.

I can't forget to mention Warren Ellis, who is another genius - Bad Seed, brilliant and super eccentric violinist. Another amazing presence on stage.

I filmed one song for my brother (who happens to have inherited my obsession):

I also took some pictures

HOWEVER, my friend Dana Yavin is one of the best photographers I know, and excels in musical photography. She happens to be a lot shorter than me AND only had her point and shoot on her, and despite all of that took a PERFECT set of photos, that pretty much portray the who experience that the show was. Please check out her pictures here: Grinderman by Dana (Distortion) Yavin
(Feel free to browse through her other selections - she has some amazing shots of some amazing bands).

I'm going to stop gushing right now and will leave you to look at the shots. If you get a chance to see them do not miss it. You will be disappointed if you do.

Gloomy day...

I don't know if I wanted Autumn to descend on us THIS fast. So gloomy. I can't concentrate on anything work-related this week, everything is giving me a headache, earache, backache... I just want to be at home reading, watching a movie, dreaming in the bath, hanging out with Meg and laughing about silly stories. Anything but sitting at my increasingly messy desk on the 40th floor, listening to the wind howl around me.

BLAH is pissing me off and I feel like I all I am saying to her nowadays is what a bad friend she is and how selfishly she is acting, and how she just drops anything that is important in her life to hang out with a guy who has pretty much treated her like a maggot for the past 5 years.
The excuse? "I am manic and depressed and confused". Well, yes, so am I. Doesn't give you license to act like an asshole. And... Eh. I will shut up now.

California in just over a week. Excited to see my siblings as it has been way too long. And of course my darling Fury dog. And my beloved Monterey. And finally a new tattoo...

Last of all: the new Grinderman album is awesome.