Artist of the week: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Artists of the week on Musikki – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

From the ashes of Australian goth pioneers The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and Mick Harvey formed in 1983 The Bad Seeds with ex-Magazine bassist Barry Adamson and Einstürzende Neubauten guitarist Blixa Bargeld. The following fifteen original records are here do prove that the band has been the perfect vehicle for Nick Cave to explore both his archetypal violent narratives (from 1983’s From Her to Eternity to 1992’s Henry’s Dream) and confessional longings (the triptych formed by 1994’s Let Love In, 1996’s Murder Ballads and 1997’s The Boatman’s Call) through an hybrid fanfare of arty post-punk, rock, blues, gospel and orchestral ballads. Although Leonard Cohen myth-making lyrics and Scott Walker dark and experimental pop are two of his undisputable influences, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds have become, due to their talent and strong work ethic, one of the most distinct and respected alternative rock acts of today.

With the increasingly significant creative role of Australian violinist and multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis (Dirty Three), who joined the band in 1997, and the departure of Blixa Bargeld in 2003, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds released two of their most aggressive and adrenaline-fueled records to date: 2004’s Abatoir Blues and 2008’s Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!. In between these two albums, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis formed the side-project Grinderman (2007-2011) and started a fruitful collaboration in scoring movies such as The Proposition (2004), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), The Road (2010) and Days of Grace (2012). In 2013, Push The Sky Away was received warmly by both fans and critics and, suddenly, it seemed that anything really surprising could happen in their work or career.

Things changed dramatically, of course, in July 2015, with the death of his 15-year-old son, Arthur, who fell from a cliff. Skeleton Tree sounds like a musical response to an unimaginable horror, sonic debris of post-traumatic pain that, hopefully, will not only move any listener but also bring some closure to its author.

João Pedro da Costa

João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.