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New albums don't always register on my musical radar. I think it's heavily dependent on what I'm listening to at the time it's released. I mean, if I'm listening to a band right around the time their new music comes out, then I'm all into it immediately, but that rarely seems to happen. Instead it's usually the opposite that is the case, especially with long times between album releases. Here's how it tends to happen: I'm listening to something else entirely and a new album comes out and suddenly I'm back listening to that band all over again... or maybe I'm not and it's months before I check out the new release because my musical tastes were wandering elsewhere.
This time I must have lucked out because it was just the other day that the work of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (and Grinderman) were starting to find it's way back into my regular play list and what do I hear... they just released a new album. Yep even though it seems like only a short while ago that Nick Cave branched out with Grinderman, he's back with the Seeds again (there are members of the Seeds in Grinderman as well, so it's not a huge departure) for their latest album: Dig! Lazarus Dig! I happened to be lucky enough to check out this album recently, and thought I'd give a bit of my first impressions.
I should preface this by stating that I'm pretty much a new fan of the Seeds as it wasn't too long ago that I wrote this piece: How I Became a Nick Cave Fan
Also, I can't give complete comparisons to every album from the Seeds, as unfortunately I currently only own a small cross section. Still, hopefully this will give you a little bit of an idea of what to expect from this new work.
I hear a distinctly different vibe from this Seeds album than say their last, Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus. It's something that made me take another listen to all of my Seeds albums and the Grinderman album to try and pin it down and I'm still having a hard time. Dig! Lazarus Dig! seems to be more... psychedelic? Hypnotic? Primal? Mystical? None of these words really seem to capture it. There's a certain primal and visceral feeling to all of Cave's work that just fits really well with his vocal baritone and overall writing style and that is definitely still present, but these songs seem like a different shade of black. Instead of the touch of Gothic horror that has been interwoven both subtly and blatantly before, there's more of a feel I seem to associate very strongly with bands like the Doors and the Velvet Underground (especially songs like "Venus In Furs", and not just because it shares the screeching violin drones). Some songs have very hypnotic pulses, while others are more droning and other still are more rocking, but I don't think there is any one thing I can put my finger on and say... "There that's what sounds different to me".
That isn't to say that this album doesn't still sound like Seeds, because it definitely does, just also with new renewed creativity.
It's interesting that I also hear a definite influence from the Grinderman sessions in this album as wel. The music is not necessarily stripped down, but it seems that way at times when compared to the backing vocal heavy, thicker arrangements of Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus. I think that album serves as a good contrast to this new one actually. While ABLO has definite rock sensibilities in songs like "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" and "Nature Boy", DLD seems to be just a touch more "underground" and back to some of the the Seeds earlier works. I don't see it as a complete reversal to earlier days though, mainly because I see a direct connection throughout all of the albums I've heard so far, with no direct break. Instead, it just seems slightly more removed from traditional rock and roll motifs and vibes... less polished perhaps... but still intensely emotional and creative.
Although perhaps not as polished sounding as ABLO (not that that album sounds overly polished), there are still songs on DLD that stand out as some of the best Cave has written though. "Hold On To Yourself" and "Lie Down Here & Be My Girl" are back to back standouts in my mind, while "Night of the Lotus Eaters and "We Call Upon the Authors" both keep calling me back for repeat listens.
Actually the album as a whole keeps calling me back for repeat listens, a good sign, but I haven't completely made up my mind yet. Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus had been seeing a lot of play from me recently, and, although they're in the same vein, Dig! Lazarus Dig! just seems in many ways like a very different album. It's making it hard for me to place this new one in my lineup of favorite Seeds albums. I'm definitely digging it, but time will tell as to whether it becomes my new favorite or not. I'm seeing a couple more listens to some of their older works in the future for more comparisons.
Overall, I think one of the best things about this new release is that it seems like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are in quite a creative streak. I'm already looking forward to the next Grinderman album in anticipation of what Cave has in store for that project and if the Seeds are going to continue on with compelling albums like this, then I'm all for it. Nick Cave has really become one of my favorite songwriters and so I'm definitely going to be checking out new music from either of his projects in the future.
Anyways, if you're a fan of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, or Grinderman, or both... and maybe even if you're not, I'm thinking you might just have to check out their latest: Dig! Lazarus Dig! It's sounding pretty intriguing to me so far.
You can pick up this album directly from Amazon here: Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!