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.

Music Break - Because I feel like it

I haven't written anything for three days and I have been sitting in front of the thinking about something I may want to write about, but I just don't feel inspired. So, this is just going to be a music post. Actually, a music break, rather than a post, because I am not really going to write anything, just post videos of songs that I love immensely.

Oh, and I am now over 1/3 of the way through my novel. And I submitted two short stories to a competition, not that I think they are any good, but you never know, and practice never hurt anyone. I feel I need to focus more, somehow, but my head is all over the place (and I am working ever day for the next 9 days, so that just gives me another excuse to procrastinate).

Talking about work, I'll be working at Darkroom with Eric on Monday night, so come and visit, because you know you want to. 167 Ludlow.

So... Enjoy...

Pulp - Underwear


The Levellers - The Boatman


T.Rex - Children of the Revolution


Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - From Her To Eternity


Iggy Pop - Nightclubbing


David Bowie - Life on Mars


Stevie Nicks - Bella Donna


Spiritualized - Medication

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.

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.