Albums of Note... Heaped with praise and riding high in the UK charts, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 15th studio album, Push the Sky Away is not only an artistic triumph but a commercial one, too. Cave’s songwriting style has mutated significantly since his early days as frontman and resident wildcard of The Birthday Party; he now resembles a particularly well-dressed bar fly and his songs are peppered with his quintessentially erudite turn of phrase.
For our reviewer, Push the Sky Away demonstrates Cave and his cohorts at their finest:“Knowing when to stop and what to leave out, when adding more will lessen the quality and having the strength of character to just cut away the surplus is most definitely driven by the ever uncompromising Cave and here it has clearly paid dividends… Push The Sky Away' has a delicacy and tenderness woven through it like a fine silken tapestry of beguiling beauty but it can still be unflinching and brutal.”
Conor O'Brien's Villagers second album (Awayland), as the title suggests, is an ambitious and immersive effort that's primarily concerned with creating its own dreamscape. It's a bigger record both in terms of scope and execution than their 2010 debut, the Mercury nominated Becoming A Jackal. This new set of songs isn't always successful though, as they get bogged down within O'Brien's dense and occasionally psychedelic narrative, but there is much to admire here.
It's also interesting to see O'Brien expanding his musical palette, while letting the rest of the band undertake some of the heavy lifting. The most welcome addition is the subtle electronica that bubbles to the surface of some of the compositions. There's also some impressive harmonising from the band throughout.
The key track for understanding the intention and part of the problem with (Awayland) is 'Earthly Pleasure'. Following the decidedly more sedate and concise opener 'My Lighthouse', O'Brien details the daydream of his protagonist. The use of an electronic vocal stutter as he sets the scene ("Naked on the toilet with a toothbrush in his mouth. He suddenly acquired an overwhelming sense of self-doubt. Every single piece of baggage he'd been holding on his back was beginning to dig in and his back began to crack".) is effective. However as strings begin to swirl and guitars become more frenzied the lyrics descend into a somewhat confusing stream of consciousness narrative. Ultimately that's the problem with some of the material here, the lyrical detours sometimes feel too clever for their own good.
Continue reading: Villagers - Awayland Album Review
We’re still in a period of calm for the music industry, as far as album releases go. What this does mean for those that do release albums at the start of the year, however, is that they tend to get more attention than they may otherwise do.
Of course, with last night’s Golden Globes success, the Hollywood version of Les Miserables is hardly sat quietly in the corner begging for attention. Having taken home the Best Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical award, as well as Best Actor for Hugh Jackman, all eyes are on the musical which has been widely tipped for an Oscar and no doubt that will translate to album sales in the UK as it has done in the US, too.
Villagers' new single, 'Cecilia & Her Selfhood' is available to download from the band's website. It follows on from the band's debut album, 'Becoming A Jackal', which was released through Domino Records (Arctic Monkeys; Franz Ferdinand; The Kills) in May 2010 to critical acclaim.
Continue: Villagers - Cecelia & Her Selfhood
As one-day music festivals go, London's Field Day stands out from the crowd as being the most ambitious and forward-thinking certainly in terms of its booking policy. Concentrating on the more hip end of the spectrum along with legendary artists of yore, the Eat Your Own Ears curated event has hosted the likes of Wild Beasts, Laura Marling, Foals, The Horrors and Bat For Lashes at very early stages in their artistic development since its inaugural bash in 2007. Situated in Victoria Park just a stones throw away from Mile End tube station in the capital's east side, this year has seen Field Day expand its number of stages to seven, with the Do You Come Here Often? and joint venture between the Lock Tavern and Shacklewell Arms each hosting line-ups for the first time.
Continue reading: Field Day, Victoria Park, London. 6th August 2011 Live Review