NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS
COLLECTORS’ EDITIONS OF CLASSIC ALBUMS
This series of reissues will see Cave and The Seeds’ entire back catalogue digitally remastered and remixed with added B-sides and films for the discerning completist. The back story of Australia’s first-man of maverick genius kicks off with 1984’s From Her To Eternity in all its filthy, sacrilegious glory, followed by The Firstborn Is Dead, bloated with Elvis disturbia and lyrical blasphemy. By the time Kicking Against The Pricks was released in 1986 Cave had become the ‘outsider’s outsider’ picked apart by the media for his messianic personality and held aloft for his inimitable, reckless musicianship. It’s only with Your Funeral… My Trial that Cave began to cement his vision into the kind of audibly comprehensive blues manifesto that contemporary contenders can only dream of.
GET 3 SONGS: Wanted Man, From Her To Eternity, I’m Gonna Kill That Woman
DIG IT? DIG DEEPER: Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, Jerry Lee Lewis
SONGS FOR EDNA
Bat for Lashes multi-instrumentalist Caroline Weeks here steps out of the shadow of Natasha Khan for some experimentalist musings. Songs For Edna is a sparse, delicate, nine-track solo debut that takes lyrical inspiration from the much-overlooked American poetess, Edna St. Vincent Millay. Armed with an oddly-tuned Spanish guitar and the softly-spoken verse of the archetype of pre-war American bohemia, Weeks’ succeeds in creating a record that defies convention in both subject matter and melodic form. Her method works best on the most lyrical of Millay’s poems, as in ‘Renascence’, but falls uncomfortably short in places. Equally, while Weeks’ is evidently enormously musically gifted, the overriding sense of amateurism that accompanies her unsteady vocals tends to detract from the album’s overall effectiveness.
GET 3 SONGS: Renascence, Oh Sleep Forever In The Latmian Cave, Elegy
DIG IT? DIG DEEPER: Essie Jain, Gregory + The Hawk, Blue Roses.
MY MAUDLIN CAREER
You’ve got to give them credit: Camera Obscura have carved their niche and are sitting pretty. New album ‘My Maudlin Career’, the Glaswegian quintet’s first on 4AD, heralds more of the same heartbroken, up-tempo chamber-pop. This time though, they’ve traded the glitz of the pipe-organ that proliferated on 2006’s Let’s Get Out Of This County for schmaltzy string orchestras and plenty of twinkling tuned-percussion. Traceyanne’s distinctive vocal breathes life into simple lyrics, only losing charm with heavy-handed production that sees her swamped in reverb on the stark melancholy of ‘Other Towns and Other Cities’. Lead single ‘French Navy’ is the inferior cousin of ‘Lloyd I’m Ready…’ but still carries plenty of tinny charisma, bolstered by a brass band and the wholesome clarity of Camera Obscura’s unfailing musical consistency.
GET 3 SONGS: French Navy, You Told A Lie, Honey In The Sun
DIG IT? DIG DEEPER: Belle & Sebastian, Au Revoir Simone, Ra Ra Riot
JEFFRY LEWIS & THE JUNKYARDS
‘EM ARE I
Immutable anti-folk muso, Jeffery Lewis, returns with his fifth full-length album on Rough Trade. ‘Ere Are I brims with Lewis’ dry, conversational lyrics and friendly three-chord musicality. What shines through, as ever, is the superlative wit with which the humdrumeries of day-to-day life are presented. Even at his most existential, Lewis employs more bathos than your average, at one point comparing life to the common cold on ‘If Life Exists?’ The Junkyards colour an unadventurous musical canvas with much-needed detail, aided by Herman Dune and Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis. There’s the somewhat incongruous inclusion of ‘The Upside Down Cross’ by bassist brother Jack Lewis, but it can’t deter from this unusually consistent long-player from the ultimate anti-hero of naturalist folk.
GET 3 SONGS: Roll Bus Roll, To Be Objectified, Slogans
DIG IT? DIG DEEPER: Adam Green, Diane Cluck, Kimya Dawson
YEAH YEAH YEAHS
When a Yeah Yeah Yeahs album opens with electro-jitter reminiscent of that ubiquitous Little Boots single you know you’re in trouble. It’s Blitz, contrary to titular promise, is so far from blitzkrieg it feels a bit like betrayal. While the Is Is EP perfected the balance between cohesion and brutality, It’s Blitz is swamped in a mire of wet synths and keys in the Celtic colourations of ‘Skeletons’ or washy new-wave sensibilities of ‘Hysteric’. Previously Nick Zinner underpinned Karen O’s somatic vocal with a heavy dose of brainaching guitar smut; he’s now content to hide behind the keyboard. The darker inflections of ‘Dull Life’ and ‘Shame and Fortune’ touch on past glories, but for the most part It’s Blitz is a trendy aberration of slippery atmospherics – all bark and very little bite.
GET 3 SONGS: Dull Life, Shame and Fortune, Soft Shock
DIG IT? DIG DEEPER: Howling Bells, The Duke Spirit, The Raveonettes