on March 1, 2013
This is an excellent album and will stand with Nick Cave's best.
His evolving art sees a changed communication in music and lyric.
Here he reaches for the speech that's trying to be heard,
whether scattered words evoking soft cinematic imagery,
impressionistic poetic phrases, or grand scale metaphor;
but straight narrative has gone.
While there is none of Nick's bump and grind routine,
be assured that this is not pastoral Cave, it is rock in the sense of disquiet,
the tension, the background technica created by collaborating Seeds' composer Warren Ellis, the Seeds themselves and Nick's voice. Some is spoken and half sung but it all has resonance and conviction, in fact Nick inhabits the voices superbly throughout, or they inhabit him (O Mamma!!)... His singing is better than ever and projected so well by producer Nick Launay.
For me there is not a dud track among the nine. Some will attract you on first listen, listen further, this has depth. Some faves for me - Water's Edge in minor key with violin playing a timeless Eastern motif and pulsating bass supporting this tale of the currency of communication, the shoreline mating ritual at Brighton transplanted maybe from NE Victoria, from the small town Book of Love.
Mermaids has a wonderful dreamy chorus with watery ambient sounds and lyrics about desire, women with closed legs - 'I do husband/driver/mermaid alertness course', Cave's black humour flares in spots throughout the album.
We Real Cool with its reverb pulsating bass, great vocal, spacey ambiance. Finishing Jubilee Street with its clacking clapping percussion and its insistent bell, like a railway warning bell in country Oz. The Higgs Boson Blues, using again the disquieting minor key, is the album's opus with Nick in a cracked voice tale 'Been sitting in my basement patio/it was hot/up above the girls walk past/their roses all in bloom'. O Mamma, I'll turn to stone! And his humour again 'And if I die tonight/bury me in my favourite yellow patent leather shoes/with a mummified cat and a cone-like hat/that the Caliphate forced on the Jews'. Ah yes, what does it all mean? Some verses may appear to be throwaway but it's the sound and the mood they attempt to convey, an added flippancy, offhandedness perhaps but the final verse sums it all up. Or is the song just a grand metaphor for Nick's approaching dental appointment, like Dylan's Watchtower? Mmmm?
The title song is a wonderful mood summary for the album 'And some people say it is just rock 'n roll/Oh but it gets right down to your soul'. Nick Launay's tasteful production is excellent, the booklet has lyrics, track info and photos - Nick's naked wife Susie on the great cover - is he letting the goddamn light shame her temporal beauty? Or is he showing her the way out? This is a temporal elemental album pushing the sky away. Maybe. Your reading might differ. That's what makes it so good. Fabulous stuff - keep on pushing Nick.
As he ages, Nick Cave seems to court risk even more than he did in youth. After distancing himself from his mellower side with Dig and Grinderman comes Cave's quietest album in ages. That's not to say its laid back in the slightest. There is a dark, unsettling undertow to these songs. And an almost claustrophobic sense of voyeurism.
The ghostly We Know Who U R sets the tone by taking you by the hand and leading you through the dew of the morning with trees like pleading hands. Warren Ellis' yearning violin provides fitting accompaniment. Wide Lovely Eyes follows and is one of Cave's most beautiful ballads since Boatman's Call's Into My Arms.
At the Water's Edge the women part their legs like Bibles but over all, most of these songs sound submerged in the depths of a vast sea, their protagonists floating in a twilight world between reverie and nightmare. Jubilee Street hints at Red Light District blackmail and murder peppered with surreal images like "walking a fetus on a leash". We Real Cool maintains a suspended sense of menace which characterizes the entire album. Cave has a long tradition with messing with the conventions of Greek and Biblical mythology and Mermaids continues the trend.
Higgs Boson Blues is the albums centerpiece and rises to climax with a sprawling travelogue which includes driving in the Alps, Robert Johnson on the road and Miley Cyrus floating stoned out of her gourd in her pool. Push the Sky Away ends it all with the childlike but powerful simplicity of a nursery rhyme.
Cave's records often have much to commend them. As a songwriter he's up there with Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. And despite any fluctuations in line-up The Bad Seeds prove once again to be one of the most versatile and innovative bands around today. Together they have created a unique, eerie and mysterious masterpiece.
on February 19, 2013
I've always loved Nick Cave's style that sits between a Frank Zappa musical mayhem and Tom Waits melancholy musicality. He's his own entity though and any new Nick Cave music is good music in my book, although I'll admit I've always liked his softer, sweeter side like "Where the Wild Roses Grow" or "Do you Love me." "Henry Lee" is another example of the type of Nick Cave you're getting here, yeah that guy. So I was pretty stoked to hear that this album would be more along those lines.
This album for me is impeccably produced. When listening through headphones or on a good sound system you'll quickly notice how specific the imaging and reverb is. The instrumentation sits between slightly electronic and organic plugged in instruments. The quality of the recording is truly natural though, with a haunting sparse quality about the whole album that I just love. Super cohesive stuff here.
My favorites are when Nick Cave is slower, melodic and soft:
"We No Who `U `R," Great pace, Nick sings this one with backing vocalists and the song sets the pace and tone for the whole album. One of my favorite tracks that he's done through the years and it's all topped out by a sexy flute solo at the end.
"Wide Lovely Eyes," Second song on the album. When listening to the album the first time I thought if he continued with these types of songs that this would be my favorite album of his. But the rest is more varied for me. The melodies and background singing in counterpoint and harmony didn't continue all the way through. Non-the-less, wide lovely eyes is beautiful, layered, and a hauntingly beautiful track. It's a sad song about lost connection, great lyrics here.
"Push the Sky Away," Very cinematic, which is something I don't always think with Cave. Slower paced and yes, haunting again. The synth, bass and Drums dominate here, and they really let Nick's poetic nature hold strong throughout. Background vocals hit the spot.
Overall a solid great effort. If this is where Cave is headed then I'm a happy dude. This is some of his most organic, simple, yet layered work yet. Buy this album, get that record player spinning, and meditate to the awesomeness that is Mr. Nick Cave.
I'll be upfront about this: while I like when Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds cut loose and fills some poor sap with lead (MURDER BALLADS remains one of my all-time favorite albums, of any artist from any genre), I'm more partial to their melancholy work. THE BOATMAN'S CALL is simply a beautiful album; same with NOCTURAMA, even if the songs on it don't stand up with his best.
PUSH THE SKY AWAY is comparable to both of these latter albums. Ironically, the album's best and worst moments come in the same tune: "Higgs Boson Blues." One moment, Cave croons, "Robert Johnson and the devil, man/Don't know who's gonna rip off who." The next, he's referencing Hannah Montana (twice!). This idiosyncrasy is what irks me the most about SKY: at times, it feels like Cave didn't quite know what he wanted to write, and so just put something down, throwing it off as an artistic non sequitur.
Those moments abound here. They don't last long--not one song here is completely unlistenable; and face it, Cave has given us some of those during his career--and they're mostly overshadowed by the artistry we hear elsewhere. Cave's poetry is in fine form; he manages to be brooding, threatening, subtle, outlandish, and romantic all at once: "She was a catch/We were a match/I was the match that would fire up her s*****." The album culminates in the beautiful title track. When Cave sings "Some people say it's just rock and roll/Ah, but it gets you right down to your soul," he's not just reiterating something we've heard other, lesser artists say; he's speaking a universal truth. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds aren't for everyone, and their albums tend to be about as diverse as you can get. But PUSH AWAY THE SKY is up there among Cave's better recent efforts. A thoroughly beautiful, haunting, poetic album.
on February 28, 2013
14th studio album from this legendary Australian musician, one of the few true artists of our time.
Much like Leonard Cohen, if Cave is an artist you have discovered, he will always be close to
your soul (though sometimes on the dark side), because he has something to say and he knows
how to say it so that it matters. "Push the Sky Away" is not his best album or his worst. It rings
true with the power of the band's artistic integrity and, as usual, that is enough to satisfy, enough
to make most other releases pale in comparison. The songs lean toward the mellow, gentler
gospel/folk side; but Cave's crooning, intensely personal & dramatic vocal delivery crawls
through his dark, poetic lyrical imagery with vehement, loving passion and a riveting interpretive
flair. The Bad Seeds are veteran players who believe in and understand his ability, and their
instrumental contribution is both essential and subtly spectacular. His albums always grow on
you, and this is no exception. Members have played in Grinderman, Dirty Three, the Triffids,
Magazine, Buzzcocks, Visage, etc. Expect to fall slowly, irreversibly in love with the depth and
purity that lies waiting here.
on February 20, 2013
One of the first things that I noticed about Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds was their penchant for releasing and album of roaring fire, followed by one of calming water. What was evident to me with "Murder Ballads" then "The Boatman's Call"; is now again [evident] in "Push the Sky Away" following "Dig, Lazurus Dig!!!". One album brings to you the brimstone and wrath of a man who wants to tear down Hell after swimming laps in a lake of fire. The other has a man solemny reading a eulogy of love outside of a quaint chapel in the woods. "Push the Sky Away" is certainly an example of the calming waters. Though his styles may vary, you will still find a symmetry weaving through his work. It is all in his words rather than delivery. Reverand Cave's lyrics are important, authoritative, and backed with masterful literary skill.
I have a feeling that this album may take some time to grow roots into some listeners' gray matter, and sink into the cerebellum. The reason for that thought escapes me, as my brain was promptly receptive to the inter-tangled growths of the music. The low end bass is felt throughout, creating an atmosphere of precipitaion ranging from fog-like mist to steady rain beads beating asphault. Eerie projections can be heard coming through the loopy guitar, which by my estimation, was strung in the netherworld & tuned by a ghost. These constant sonic threads give a comfortably "blue to purple" feel with a nice spot of grey in the distance; as much as they are responsible for flourishes of pure light when the violins peak or when the female singers gain volume in the background.
Australian alternative musician Nick Cave (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) release 2013's Push The Sky Away independently via Bad Seeds Ltd. Mysterious, eccentric, and brilliant are all appropriate adjectives for the alt-rock/alt-singer/songwriter affair. Different from anything else released in 2013, the nine-track Push The Sky Away shines brightly, benefiting from its individualism.
Opener "We No Who U R" sets the tone, exhibiting a soulful undertone, derived from its groove and the arrangement of strings, horns, and warm backing vocals. "We No Who U R" also showcases the first instances of minimalism, something that is used throughout the effort. For all its superb idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, the opener brings it all together on the memorable refrain: "And we breathe it in / there is no need to forgive..." "Wide Lovely Eyes" keeps things interesting, governed by a driving groove led by guitar as opposed to drums. Like the opener, Nick Cave's lead vocals possess a nice presence about them. On the chorus section, background vocals provide more body to the overall sound.
On standout "Water's Edge", Cave quasi-sings/quasi-speaks, truly delivering a 'narrative'. The tale he conveys is one about young love that is quite descriptive and somewhat risqué; he doesn't goes 'too far', but definitely grabs one's attention and raises an eyebrow (or two). The chorus appears at the end, featuring three iterations: “It’s the will of love / It’s the thrill of love / Ah, but the chill of love is coming on”. "Jubilee Street" follows sensationally, bearing a sound pop-rock/soul percussive groove, intact with hi-hat and tambourine. The highlight comes toward the end, where intensity grows marked by instrumental crescendo.
"Mermaids" continues on a suggestive lyrical path, much like the previous "Water's Edge". Cave asserts memorably that "I believe in God / I believe in mermaids too..." on the second verse. On another highlight, "We Real Cool", lyrics are definitely a strong suit. On the chorus, Cave sings "Who was it, yeah you know we real cool / on the far side of the morning, who was it.... and I hope you're listening too." More clever, however, is his pop cultural reference to Wikipedia: "Sirius is 8.6 light years away / Arcturas is 37 / the past is the past and it's here to stay / Wikipedia's heaven..." "We Real Cool" is a cut laden with tension that leaves you on the edge of your seat just waiting to see what direction it will go in next.
"Finishing Jubilee Street" follows up the earlier cut, distinguished by a groove with hip-hop sensibility about it. Cave even goes as far to say "I'd just finished writing 'Jubilee Street'", returning musical sensibilities back to the heyday of singer/songwriting (60's and 70's). Repetition remains Cave's best friend, particularly on the chorus: “See that girl / comin’ on down/ comin’ on down / comin’ on down”. "Higgs Boson Blues" delivers an epic eight minute cut, continuing to share clever lyricism and great diction and annunciations vocally from Cave. The title track, "Push The Sky Away" ends the album strongly, making good use of pacing, space, and minimalism.
Overall, Push The Sky Away is one of the year's more memorable releases. It keeps the singer/songwriter style alive and well. There are no misses amongst the nine cuts; each possesses something noteworthy and special. Highly recommended by all means.
on September 29, 2013
I jumped ahead and got the cloth-bound limited edition book with CD and DVD. The CD is the best part; the book is pretty good too, with reprints of Cave’s magnificent lyrics, for people who can’t make out what he’s saying (although actually it’s never too hard to make out what he’s saying). The DVD contains in-studio videos for songs that didn’t make it into the final cut.
In a way the DVD should be fascinating, with the fanboys trying to imagine where they might fit on the album, or why they were cut; the fact is, of course, that they were probably pulled simply because they don’t really fit on the album. It might also be because they aren’t very good. But it is nice to see Nick and friends in the studio, looking very serious indeed.
The album is great, one of Cave’s best in recent years (actually, this isn’t really saying much – they’ve all been good); it starts with songs that are a bit over-produced, like “We No Who U R” (pretty), “Wide Lovely Eyes” (stark and simple, with pretty keyboards), and “Water’s Edge” (a weirdly unsatisfying story about whorish DC chicks), although the latter ends on a great note with the lyrics “It’s the will of love, it’s the thrill of love, but it’s the chill of love that’s coming down – people!”.
The album really picks up with “Jubilee Street”, a wild storytelling song about hookers – the song really cooks. Great vocal phrasings by Cave (including a Beggars Banquet era Jagger-esque “I’ve got a foetus… on a LEASH”), cool sparse guitar and jazzy percussion, before the swelling violin sounds kick in. Nice. He mentions a “10 ton catastrophe on a 60 pound chain”, wonder what that is. There’s good insanity in the final line – “I am an embryo eating dark oxygen. I am glowing. I am flying. Look at me now.” Crazy stuff. Nice build up to the end too, with the children’s choir bits (more Beggars Banquet era Stones-copying there too, actually…). “Mermaids” is a fun, tense little charmer, but the really good one is “We Real Cool”, with its weird reference to the distance of the stars, great Nick Cave roamings and groanings. “Finishing Jubilee Street” is a cool meta-songwriting exercise, memory ramble, a wild combo of moody music, talking, singing, and a wonderful children’s choir. Nice. The standout piece on the album is “Higgs Boson Blues”, a weird piece of Geneva melancholia that starts off like the Stones classic “Sister Morphine”; it is also the longest song on the album, nearly eight minutes. The lyrics sheet – which you need to read to understand what the hell he’s babbling about, with references to “mummified cats” and all – spreads out over four pages even! The final song on the album is probably the best – quite a feat, since “Higgs Boson Blues” should be pretty hard to top. It’s the title track and is dominated by Cave’s voice and a spooky church organ (there’s a bit of drum going on there too). Lovely.
Overall, this is one randy album, with Cave referencing bimbos, girlfriends, Hannah Montana (and Mylie Cyrus), black patches, and a lot of girls.
The two songs on the DVD are “Needle Boy” and “Lightning Bolts “. Both show the musicians playing their parts, with lyrics running along the side (they don’t appear in the booklet). “Needle Boy” is tinted red and is about a needle boy and all of the little objects he possesses, and musically it’s just Jim’s weird organ stuff and Nick’s lyrics. Nick is wearing a polo shirt and dancing dramatically in front of the mic. Warren Ellis is messing around with a mess of pedals and effects boxes that litter a persian rug in the studio, and at one point is grinding away on his trademark violin. The song ends in weird studio noise. “Lightning Bolts” is visually similar to “Needle Boy”, but it’s set in green. And while both songs are fairly sparse in arrangement, this song is faster and more electronic, with plenty of weird noises. It shows Nick working the mic again with his weird studio dance, Warren and producer Nick Launay in the control room, Warren playing a flute that is miced up to sound like an angel’s choir (or is it a stunt?), and then the Bad Seeds at the mic singing the backing vocals (it’s probably staged – I doubt that this song was recorded live). The song is interesting, a surreal tale of Nick’s encounter with Zeus over a pramful of lightning bolts.
The cloth-bound booklet is cool, with pages of type-written lyrics with blackened-out sections (our mind wanders – what words did those sections contain?), and great pictures of the band interacting; I particularly like the one that faces “Finishing Jubilee Street”, showing Nick walking with Warren Ellis and listening to something that he’s saying, Jim’s hand gesture expressive in its own way. A bit of fantasy there too – I wonder what they’re talking about and if it’s fascinating, or if it’s just a bit of boring junk.
on March 5, 2014
I bought this album based on one song I'd heard on satellite radio, and now I listen to it frequently. The live performances as the end are just as intriguing and captivating as the studio songs. I really love this album...it's dark, sultry, smoky, trance-like. Cave's voice is hypnotic. I highly recommend this album for anyone who wants to do some serious chilling out.
on April 15, 2015
This is the first Nick Cave album I listened to, after I read an article about how he wrote an entire book on a bag while on a flight. I have since fallen in love with his music, and recommend it highly.