Monthly Archives: September 2009

184. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Henry’s Dream”

In a case for any buddy Sherlocks out there, this particular album was unexpectedly absent from my CD collection back when I was deeply immersed in Cave reviews. 

Album Cover Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Henry's DreamOn the urging of a regular reader (Unrelenting Tedium, are you still out there?), I sought a replacement copy and have been relishing each listen ever since.

I am seriously torn in my ranking of Cave opuses.  Three of his albums currently occupy my Top 20, with Let Love In out in front.

My strongest basis for favouring said album was its astoundingly strong opening trio of tracks.  But, then, this CD has an even more impressive triptych. 

The epic Papa Won’t Leave You Henry is captivating with swirling, rousing choruses.  The organ and virtual call-and-response of I Had a Dream Joemaintains the momentum, while the lusciousness of the softer Straight to You presages his later work on Boatman’s Call.  

What lifts this album above its esteemed peers is that the quality never drops.  There isn’t a track on this release which would be out of place on a Bad Seeds best of. The album isn’t quite as wild or aggressive as his live work of the time or Tender Prey, but it is wonderfully balanced and engaging.  

File under: A dream weaver

183. Consolidated – “Play More Music”

This album title emanates from yet another crowd vox pop quote.  Not surprisingly some in the Consolidated audiences got pretty pissed off at the pumping industrial dance tracks being interrupted by lengthy diatribes.

Album Cover Consolidated Play More Music Yeastie GirlzThe wierd bit is that this album has much more accomplished and listenable musical tracks than the preceding two releases from the ‘collective’.

I suspect this was the first album I heard and bought from this band, as this is where they most sound like Michael Franti’s Disposable Heroes.  The ranting is more rhythmic, and the narrative threads weaved through the songs are more captivating and engaging.

And, despite the scolding, know-it-all tone of many tracks, there are moments of definite humour, and also the most memorable contribution of the band, namely the inclusion of a track by guest rappers, the Yeastie Girlz.

Here it is in all its glory (warning, this is not particularly work-friendly, discussing as it does the merits of cunnilingus):

More tunes like that and I’d be much happier with the album.

File under: No, play more good music

182. Cosmic Psychos – “Cosmic Psychos”

Finally the turntable gets another spin.  And this album has definitely given the machine a workout.

Cosmic Psychos self-titled debut album coverThe Cosmic Psychos are icons of a peculiar part of the Aussie music scene. A trio of roughnut blokes playing straight ahead, Stooges-style garage punk, these guys were reknown for drinking VB in copious amounts, swearing up a storm, roo-shooting and agricultural imagery.

There’s nothing pretty or arty about this men.  They compose incredibly direct tunes (with such couplets as “I wanna be like David Lee Roth and have girls suck me off”), with pounding beats and wah-wah laiden riffs. 

It all works well and captures the spirit of the late-80s, early-90s garage punk bands that for better or worse would inspire the grunge movement. 

I’m feeling guilty listening to this without a beer in my hand (a can of course), that I’m not wearing a wife-beater singlet and am unadorned with prison-style tats.  But these blokes would forgive all (well, maybe not the beer bit), as it was never about how you looked and all about how much you liked the unbridled rock experience.  And I do…

The stand out tunes: the aforementioned David Lee Roth, the riff-heavy Rain on You and Going Down. 

File under: The Oz-Rock that should be played once an hour on “classic hits” stations

181. Consolidated – “Friendly Fa$cism”

“I think crusading rap guys are a real downer”.  That is one of the many sampled quotes from the open mic at Consolidated’s live shows (typically held on US college campuses).

Album Cover friednly fascism fa$cism consolidated friendlyThat comment sums up much of the problem with this album (which was actually released earlier than the previously reviewed effort).

There is a completely lack of humour or shade on this collection.  Every single issue makes these blokes angry, and their resultant diatribes lack any appreciation for subtlety in argument or context.

This might be fine and dandy if the music were interesting, but this release lacks any particularly hook-driven compositions.  While the beats are still strong, the inclusion of the intermittent concert quotes are not overly pleasant listening, and certainly don’t encourage repeated plays. 

There is a reason why “Vox Pops”, “Protest Speeches” and “Stats-heavy Diatribes” are not typical categories in your local record store (remember them?). They are no fun to listen to.

File under: With friends like these, I need alcohol…

180. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Tender Prey”

After my fortnight of Cave listening a month or two back, I promised to pick up a couple of the albums I was missing from his back catalogue.

Album Cover Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Tender PreyI didn’t exactly stretch myself, stepping back one spot to acquire this the fifth album in the Bad Seeds catalogue.

This was very much the breakout release for the band, opening with the quintessential Cave composition (and performance) the astoundingly good Mercy Seat. The song is so good that my version of the CD has two versions of it!

The album doesn’t rest on those laurels, but rather follows up with the rousing Deanna and a few other tunes I’d been unfamiliar with until, most notably Up Jumped the Devil.  This rollicking number is like some bastard lovechild of The Pogues and Tom Waits, and is Cave and buddies at their fun-loving best.

The album stays consistent throughout.  Nick is in his typically verbose and literary mood, with the band exploring their more raucous and dangerous side.

As such, this is a wonderful addition to my rather shelf-greedy Cave collection. Perhaps I might even delve even further in to his past.

File under: Love me tender

179. Consolidated – “The Myth of Rock”

I was once a long-haired, left-leaning, Greenpeace volunteering uni student. I mainly expressed my anger at the Man by purchasing CDs reinforcing such views.

Album Cover myth of rock consolidatedAlong with  socialist songsmith Billy Bragg and San Fran’s Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, I also explored the work of another Bayside collective – some white boys called Consolidated.

The music here is hard-edged, industrial dance (think Nitzer Ebb), but overlaid with very overt political raps/rants about the failings of capitalism, white males, the music industry, US democracy, meat-eating and anything else you might enjoy.

The tracks are sample heavy, especially with soundbites from both liked-minded souls and the nasty CEOs, business commentators destroying our world.

This could all be a recipe for disaster, but underlying it is some sensibility about what makes folks jump around.  You could probably ignore what they espouse if you felt like it (although less so on CD than in a club).

I must say much of their critiques still remain relevant, but probably more to idealistic, skinny young ‘uns out to remain righteous, and much less to to a sell-out like me. I’ll see if their other three albums reignite any palace-storming urges over the coming week. Here’s some footage to get you agitated and informed:

File under: More like a political party than a… party…

Two done

Just a quick post to update avid readers of this blog as to my progress.  I have finally completed the second row of CDs on the rack (see below).


Those 80 reviews (there were a few more singles and EPs in the way than on the first row which included 96 reviewed albums) took me approximately 150 days.

I am going to have to pick up my pace lest this process drags out into the 22nd century.

178. The Coctails – “Peel”

This 1994 release from Chicago ensemble The Coctails snuck into my collection a few years back, presumably picked up cheap at some sale, and I can’t remember ever giving it much of a listen.

Album Cover Cocktails Coctails Peel The I have a feeling I bought it on the recommendation of a buddy now residing in Brisbane town.

Well, now I’ve heard it, and I like. This stands as another example of right sound, wrong place. These guys deliver the sort of material that made Pavement indie stars – quirky vocal stylings but with very sound pop basis and with jangly, angular guitars and keys. Take their tune Postcard and tell me that this couldn’t have been a single off Slanted and Enchanted. Fans of The Shins or Modest Mouse wouldn’t be disappointed with at least half the tunes here.

The album is more than an homage to Malkmus and co however. The band has a trio of songwriters and an adventurous bent, so we wander in and out of genres with abandon. There are shoegazey Gersey-like moments (on Peel), and rockier efforts (Wicked Way).

Purportedly these guys started out as a “lounge-core” act. I must find out what that means, because they get this later stuff very right.

File under: A-peel-ing (I couldn’t resist)

177. Clouds – “Penny Century”

One of the upsides of my high teaching preparation workload over the past few days is that I have been stuck listening to this album over and over again.

Clouds The Penny Century album coverNormally I would have moved on, but instead I’ve been sucked deeper and deeper into a world I haven’t visited in almost a decade.

The Clouds were at the forefront of a wave of early nineties Australian indie rock outfits that embraced the sensibilities and sounds of US influences like Husker Du, The Pixies and Sonic Youth, and recrafted them into breezier, poppier output.

Alongside The Falling Joys, The Hummingbirds and (at the brasher end) Rat Cat, these guys got significant airplay and major label support (see Craig Mathieson’s The Sell-in for a great insight into these heady days).

The Clouds were always my favourite from this bunch. Dual female vocals, swirling guitars, wall-of-sound moments and luscious harmonies abound. The influences are there, especially in terms of those pounding Pixies rhythms and the occasional Kim Gordon-like talking vocals. But there is also a sophistication and boldness to it, with arty references (Hieronymus) and biting critiques of music execs (Souleater).

These guys should have been huge. This is a stand out album from its era. It’s a travesty that their works are so hard to find these days, but here’s a video taster:

File under: In for a penny…

176. Ben Folds Five – “Ben Folds Five”

I’m popping back in the collection here to a recently acquired “B”.

Album Cover Ben Folds Five selftitled debutThis time last week I was watching Mr.Folds sans buddies bashing out hits on his grand piano. It reminded me that I hadn’t yet reviewed this album, which I picked up on sale.

This CD was my first brush with Ben back in 1995 when my housemate had a copy, and I could have sworn we listened to it many, many times.

Having spun this disk several times over the past month, and tonight, I guess we were a bit more selective than I recall. There are only three or four tracks that had left any listening impression.

The impression was a big one though. Jackson Cannery, Underground and most of all Julianne are still rocking numbers, with Ben bashing the left end of his keyboard with abandon. They are sufficient justification for owning this album. How could you not love the youthful bluster of this?

The remainder of the album is still yet to break through for me. It is a surprisingly low key effort outside of the aforementioned trio of tunes. What strikes me more than ever is the strong parallel between these early Folds efforts and Joe Jackson’s Real Men era output. Maybe I should pick up some of his works too.

File under: Fine Folds