Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Push the Sky Away
Bad Seed Ltd.
I know some Planet S reviewers think the sexual nature of the two Grinderman records has been overstated (ahem, Vanda, ahem). But when I listen to that Nick Cave side project, my mental image is a real slimy 56-year-old rock ’n’ roller wearing jeans that are five times too tight.
(Then again Vanda’s also remarked that the Grinderman song “No Pussy Blues” describes rock’s unlikeliest problem, writing, “Does anyone really believe the man has any trouble in this department?” Perhaps the act’s smoldering sexuality has not been so overstated after all.)
With Grinderman more or less wrapped up, Cave’s latest is another record with his regular band. It’s a less tumescent outing. Push the Sky Away gives Cave’s fearlessly understated vocals their usual large presence. Cave, vocally doing a lot with little, adeptly wrings every bit of drama from every line.
That’s important for a couple of reasons.
First, several of Push’s songs tell stories, and Cave’s low-rumbled narratives wouldn’t work if he were less expressive. For example: “Jubilee Street” — a dread-and-doom-laden tale of a man and a prostitute — would be dead in the water with many vocalists, but it works when Cave sings it.
Second, the album’s songs have leaden paces with minimal arrangements. You need an expressive singer to pull that off. (Former Cave flame P.J. Harvey’s work is similar, though she lacks his primal intensity.)
While Push The Sky Away is a good Cave album, it’s not my favourite. Personally I prefer Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! — a 2008 Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds release that held Cave’s experimental inclinations in check with solid rock underpinnings. Push sometimes flounders amidst its deep self-seriousness. Nick Cave might be one guy who shouldn’t keep it in his pants.
Two Hours Traffic
Two Hours Traffic has love on its mind. Love, yearning, desire, lust –– pick any one of those amorous nouns and this P.E.I. group will give you a three-minute guitar-heavy slice of power-pop devoted to the subject. Instead of the satisfactions of love, though, Foolish Bloodobsesses over love’s miseries. On the album’s catchiest track, “The Meaning of Love”, lead singer Liam Corcoran spells out love’s terrible force: “I don’t understand these lengths/ I’ve gone to win your hand/ Wore out all of my expensive clothes/ I even started a band.” I understand perfectly.
Foolish Bloodstumbled, bruised and confused, into record stores on Feb. 19. /Aidan Morgan
Shout Out Louds
You can always count on Sweden to export confusingly named furniture, terrifying metal bands and adorable indie-pop musicians who churn out effin’ great choruses like it’s as simple as breathing. Stockholm quintet Shout Out Louds falls into the latter camp, and their fourth studio album boasts at least three standout singles (“Walking In Your Footsteps”, “Illusions” and “14 Of July”). But the trouble with Opticais how much it will remind you of other records in your collection. The delay, chorus and flanger-flecked guitar tones used liberally here were all over the last two albums fromFrench shoegaze artist M83. And by now, the dance floor drumming paired with surging synth lines are well-worn. (New Order and Tears for Fears were plying their electro anthems back when the Shouties and their peers were still in kindergarten, so this sound has been with us a helluva long time.)
No one would argue that the Shout Out Louds aren’t a fun or capable band, but there’s nothing here that’s particularly novel or surprising. /Gillian Mahoney
The Marriage of True Minds
The boss insists these reviews must be less than 150 words. That’s not even enough space to describe the concept of Matmos’ latest record, let alone what it sounds like. For more than a decade the duo has constructed electronic music from unlikely sources including human hair, a cow uterus, life support systems and liposuction surgery. So it comes as no surprise that when drums and a bass line are introduced moments into the opening track, it’s actually a tap dancer and a rubber band. What is surprising is that they’ve actually managed to outdo themselves with the album’s concept. They performed sensory deprivation exercises on fellow musicians and then attempted to communicate with them telepathically — the patients’ responses form the melodies and themes of the album. The results are eight charming and challenging electronic compositions, one deconstructed Buzzcocks cover and this 146 word review. /Michael Dawson