WOXY.com's The Futurist Interview


Gnarls Barkley "Run"
Black Kids "Hurricane Jane"
Black Mountain "Queens Will Play"
Drive-By Truckers "Self Destructive Zones"
Cat Power "Metal Heart"
The Battle Royale "Shook Up"
Yeasayer "2080 (live)"
Man Man "Top Drawer"
The Young Dudes "Doin' Crimes"
The Hands "Praying Hands Will Make Fists (Or Be Cut Off)"
Gay Witch Abortion "Action Cop"
Tapes N’ Tapes "Hang Them All"

[Interview first aired on WOXY.com.]

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!" Review

Age is only important when numbers are empowered, it is the knowledge and depth of a spirit which embodies true substance. All the same, having crossed half a century, the idea behind who Nick Cave is leans increasingly closer to that of an ageless poet. The Guardian‘s Alexis Petridis concluded his thoughts on Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! by explaining his envious take on Cave, “It’s hilarious, chilling and exhilarating: further evidence of the unique and enviable position Cave finds himself in at fifty.” And while 50 is just a number, so too is 14 – a number representing how many albums Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds have released. With 14 studio albums, a triple disc rarities collection, multiple live releases, a decade old retrospective release, and over 200 songs behind them – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds have just released a set of new material depicting the band as lively, inspired and full of substance as ever.

In 1996 Pat Blashill wrote of Cave in his photography-centric Noise from the Underground, speaking too of Lydia Lunch and Foetus retrospective glances, “Cave and these others authored a new American gothic, a haunting subgenre of spooky and screeching music with lyrics about serial killers, AIDS, or other modern madnesses. In the hands of these singers, a little knowledge was a powerful artistic device.” If only one could look ahead into the future and see Cave as an enduring storyteller rather than a brooding intellectual one might not have been startled by the bounce and drive of “Albert Goes West.” The song’s unwavering guitar-heavy rhythm depicts a version of the Bad Seeds rarely seen, an honest-to-god rock band. Uncharacteristically the song’s fast pace allows the listener to dispel theory that Grinderman had little impact on Dig!!!, rather Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey, and Jim Sclavunos seem to have imposed a new energy onto the rest of the band, one reminiscent to that found in 2003′s “Bring it On” or even 1996′s “The Curse of Millhaven.”

And while consistently scattered, the smoothness of the harmonic shift throughout the album suggests a band comfortable with itself. “Today’s Lesson” finds the Bad Seeds chanting repetitively “We’re gonna have a real cool time” only to be balanced by the dramatics of Cave, “cause the game is never won by standing in any one place for too long,” sung on “Jesus of the Moon.” Equaling each directional commitment is a reverse thrust in theme, for each American gothic agonizing in retreat there is a reckless Australian screeching with enthusiasm and vibrancy.

The dynamic of each song may gesture to any number of previous recordings by the band, but the wonder of Dig!!! comes in that it’s an album unexpected. The record delivers with no waste, perfectly identifying the strengths of the band without reaching extravagantly far. “Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors can’t fix,” rants Cave repeatedly in “We Call Upon the Author,” as if to say that he has finally learned when to cut himself short to strengthen his words as a whole – giving them more substance through emphasis than through dictionary-length thoroughness. And who are we to question, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is brilliant in its diversity, fluent in modern diversions and — after all — Cave is 50 now, he probably knows what he’s doing.

Portishead "Third" Review

What has been roughly 10 years in the making finally sees release in the form of Portishead's Third, the aptly titled release from the Bristol-based trio largely for helping standardize trip hop in the mid ’90s. With the exception of a few scattered contributions and a Beth Gibbons solo album, the group has been largely unspoken for in commercial recording since its 1997 self titled release. Since then mystique and anticipation have blossomed around the band’s absence. Now releasing an album of new material, matching its first two releases with an 11 song track listing, Third may act as a question rather than an answer to the band’s layoff. Not only does Third‘s release serve to question whether or not Portishead is still a relevant in a changed musical landscape, but it also suggests it valid to ask whether or not the trip hop Chinese Democracy was simply worth the wait.

Performing its first full set in roughly a decade at last year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties: A Nightmare Before Christmas festival, the group presented five new, and at the time still-untitled, tracks. Capturing the interest of fans the world over, the new material was received with a stark feeling of separation when contrasted with of the sounds of both Dummy and Portishead. The thoughts of a music departure are quite suitable, for to call the new music trip hop would be a disgrace to both what the term came to represent and to the honest beauty of the variation in Portishead’s sound visibly apparent with Third.

“I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you and I don’t know what I’ll do without you” moans Gibbons on “Nylon Smile.” Almost serving as an echoing conclusion to 97's “Only You,” Gibbons now playing the role of a songstress who has achieved her romantic grasping. Much in the same sense, Third seems to repeal any bloated stabs at grandeur which may be expected, rather its tracks are heavy with reaching innovation and variety in place of excessive beat-hugging.

“The Rip” blooms with a stench of cheap 90s ambiance, accounting for a sound that could be construed as appropriate of the album if out of the context of the rest of its songs. But its sound grows appropriately while adjusting to the delicateness of Gibbons’ lyrics in a way that Air’s denser electronic may have melded with Charlotte Gainsbourg had her 5:55 taken a darker direction. Likewise the track’s following sounds further shed any idea of repetition between this and any other Portishead album; “Plastic” determined in its minimalist orchestral texture, and “We Carry On” sounding of deceiving gypsy with Adrian Utley’s guitar acting as a deceptive monkey scouring for unguarded pocket change.

And as the album continues to relax, “Deep Water” surprises as a ukulele-driven ballad, waxing just before Third chomps with “Machine Gun.” The song’s Downward Spiral beat provides a uniquely hard shell, an environment surprisingly suitable for the harmonically quenching Gibbons. Its beat unfolds into a psudo-industrialist electronic rhythm, one a bit too basic to be a Squarepusher anthem, though it teases some of Tom Jenkinson’s earlier subtleties.

Perhaps “Threads” is as close to what was last heard from Portishead, post-Portishead. The song’s early violin moan captures a hair of what was 1998′s live Roseland NYC album, Utley and Geoff Barrow adding haze to the near-transparent sound. “I’m always so unsure” groans Gibbons as “Threads” begins to wail, possibly attributing a few words to the theme to not just the album but the group’s prolonged recording hiatus. When so much is expected of a band so talented, yet so remotely unusual, uncertainty is not merely granted but presumed; however Third as a solid body of work fulfills in its surprising assuredness, failing to even whisper suggestions that Portishead was ever irrelevant. Third is 10 years worth of anticipation fulfilled.