From one Antipodean punk-survivor with an enormous back catalogue but little to show in terms of chart success, to another…
Former Saint Ed Kuepper is a much more mainstream artist than kooky Knox, but his output seems to occur outside the ‘industry’ of music in Australia.
It’s hard to understand why when you listen to this 1996 collect of his best tracks from 1992-1995 (I told you he was prolific). On a musical Venn diagram Ed sits at some intersection of the Go Betweens, Nick Cave and Dave Graney.
He shares a portion of the flair for the slightly twisted or flawed arty pop of Forster and McLellan, the atmospheric darkness of Cave’s less gothic works, and that irritating pompous vocal styling that Graney overplays.
There are some wonderful patches of vocal pacing and songwriting on this. I’m With You‘s “fogged up car window pane” is Joplin-esque. La Di Doh is catchier than I’d like, and the opener The Way I Made You Feel is what AOR radio stations should be playing:
At times Kuepper isn’t quite the sum of his parts, and this album lacks a blow you away moment. But when The Church, The Triffids and Died Pretty are winning accolades, so should EK.
File under: Not as intriguing as Winnie, or as refreshing as the beer
Posted in K, Oz Artists
Tagged album, album review, CD review, Dave Graney, Died Pretty, Ed Kuepper, Go Betweens, music, music review, Nick Cave, The Church, The Saints, The Triffids
Before we launch into the letter K, I need to catch you up on some recent purchases from the land of A-J.
Despite my pretty extensive Nick Cave collection, I was slow to jump on the Grinderman side-project. It was only when the band’s second album came out last month that I picked this up going cheap at JB HiFi. And was just the sort of raw rock I’d been looking for.
Over the years, I’ve found great joy in the moments when Nick and his highly talented buddies have reminded us that they can let it all hang out, that there doesn’t need to be too much structure, control or pretence to their sonic adventures. The sheer number of band members, and instruments (especially that piano) have made that a very tough balancing act in Bad Seed land.
The Grinderman set-up with its stripped line-up, and Nick on guitar, allows a lot more free-form, balls out, garage rock. It’s all rather rough and ready, but with that trademark Cave (and maybe Warren Ellis’ influence) tongue in cheek.
The song-writing (and tone) here has me thinking that Tex Perkins just realised that Nick could be him without trying very hard at all. Indeed, Tex has never delivered a song this good (and this ain’t the best track on the album):
File under: No pretence blues
Posted in G, Oz Artists
Tagged album, album review, CD review, Grinderman, music, music review, Nick Cave, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, No Pussy Blues, Tex Perkins, Warren Ellis
After yesterday’s dullness, it was certainly refreshing to embrace the energy and oomph of today’s CD.
Instead of cardigan-wearing artiness, here is some unpretentious garage punk of the highest order.
There is a fine tradition in Australia of Stooges-like rock’n’roll. My personal favourite has always been Radio Birdman, but others swear by The Saints and even Nick Cave‘s early incarnations.
The trio of Current lads plus Brendan Suppression (I think these might not be the names their parents gave them) deliver exactly what you’d hope. Trebly guitar, pounding drums and slurry bass, plus vocals that sound like that Iggy doing a Cosmic Psychos impression.
The songs come across wonderfully naive and ad-libbed (and reportedly several were). The audio mix is garagey without being tinny.
This album got a lot of people excited when it was released. It got me excited on my walk to work this (Monday) morning and kept me going all morning. I felt transplanted back to a much simpler time, when Colour Television was worth singing about and when wearing a black glove on stage made you a popstar:
File under: Smell the glove
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.
On 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
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.
I 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
There was a definite downward slide in quality over the last couple of Cave releases. This album was pretty much make or break for me.
Audaciously (or perhaps cautiously) Cave and his gang of conspirators choose to roll the dice twice by releasing a double album.
Double albums typically send up warning flags as they are the domain of the self-indulgent. Thankfully this combo doesn’t venture too far in that direction, although there are a few tracks that would benefit from exile off to the land of b-sides.
Most importantly these CDs mark the return of the cocky, energetic, edgy Cave that produced the mid-1990s gems. The songs have heavier rhythms and greater diversity of sounds. The piano is much less prominent. The use of female backing vocals and whopping riffs on Hiding All Away, for example, herald new confidence for the band, and fiddle fiend Warren Ellis finally makes his mark across multiple tracks.
Put simply there is just more good stuff versus dross. There’s also supposedly some sort of Greek myth thread running through the second disk, but beyond the opener I’m missing it.
Irrespective, I’m just happy Cave refound his mojo…
File under: The knackery trip is cancelled
I know I committed to around 200 words per review, but I feel like writing “see last review” on this one (or just “ditto”).
After giving this album several listens, I can find little positive or constructive to say.
It’s just a bleh effort. The songwriting is uninspired. The musicianship is workmanlike (as an aside I’m no sure that phrase should be pejorative, but it is). There are no top notch songs.
At times the album even lacks Cave-ness. For example, the considerable portions of the pedestrian Bring it On could be any number of cookie-cutter adult-rockers (especially the chorus). At times, I had to convince myself it wasn’t Tex Perkins…
The aforementioned “several listens” reflected my relative unfamiliarity with this recording. I clearly wasn’t grabbed by this post-purchase. I’m still not.
The only fun aspect of this is the very self-indulgent almost fifteen minute closer Babe I’m on Fire, on which Nick plays out the stack-the-rhymes game to its ultimate end. My special edition of the album includes a DVD with the video for said song, which is ain’t too bad (and demonstrative of Cave’s underestimated sense of humour). Here it is (in two parts):
File under: Snooze-a-rama