Friday, February 14, 2003


1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Nocturama. Not the strongest Cave drawing ever - mellowing with age is fine, and stepping back from the almost laceratingly personal songwriting he perfected on The Boatman's Call is more than understandable too, but let's hope he can somehow reverse the scary drift into generic balladry that that's brought on - but I've put it on more often than I ever have No More Shall We Part already, if only for the breathless, quarter-hour-long classic-Bad-Seeds-style raveup, "Babe, I'm On Fire," that closes the album (Blixa Bargeld in particular seems to be letting out every bit of guitar abuse he's been holding in - between the Seeds and the nigh-ambient modern-day Einst├╝rzende Neubauten - for the past five years), and, even better, the full-length video that accompanies it on the bonus DVD included with the initial run of the disc. Given that this gaggle of gloommeisters usually look as if they couldn't crack a smile if longshoremen attached pulleys to their cheeks and tugged, it's an almighty revelation - a goofy, silly, ticklish onslaught of lowbrow, light-black-humored hilarity as the Seeds portray almost all the characters named in the forty or so verses of the song (The fucked-up Rastafarian, the dribbling libertarian, the sweet little Goth with the ears of cloth, the cross-over country singer, the hump-backed bell ringer, the swinger, the flinger, the outraged right-winger, the Chinese contortionist, the backyard abortionist, the poor Pakistani with his lamb Bhirriani, etc. etc. etc.) in turn. And if anyone could have predicted the former-self-mocking moment when Cave plays the "drug-addled wreck with the needle in his neck," a moment that's less Nelson Algren than Tom Green, well, that person can just get a 900 number, put on the phony Caribbean patois and start advertising right now. So that's a solid half-hour of sustainable, even surprising entertainment (and another half hour that may yet grow on me) - better than most can expect in this age of lowered expectations, life- and otherwise. I'll take it gladly.

2. Chunklet #17. Half the magazine pillories virtually every known rock act in existence (is one of your favorites not mentioned in "Pay Not To Play," their centerpiece/offer to pay bands to either break up or not reform? Must have been an oversight) and virtually every kind of rock fan in existence; the other half pays homage to the comic brilliance of Mr. Show, Dave Attell, Patton Oswalt, Robert Smigel, Janeane Garafolo, and Fred Armisen. That, the fact that the latter, an indie-rock drummer, is now a featured player on Saturday Night Live, and the evidence as seen on the back cover that the most interesting release (and the only one I can name) from SubPop this past year was David Cross' 2-CD(!) stand-up comedy release, Shut Up You Fucking Baby!, proves it: comedy is the new rock 'n' roll. Again. And not a moment too soon. Just please, no raised lighters at the Yuk Yuk Hut.

3. Anticipating something good for a change. The Go-Betweens' eighth album, Bright Yellow Bright Orange, will be released in four days. Which excites me. Which means the terrorists will probably set off a jigger of skin-melting chemicals in my neighborhood late Monday.

(more later [said that already, didn't I?]...)

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