Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, "Push the Sky Away" (Bad Seed)
Only Cave could go from the discovery of the "God particle" to Miley Cyrus' swimming habits in the space of one song.
The way he accomplishes that in "Higgs Boson Blues," the standout track from his new album, offers a good insight into how Cave and the Bad Seeds work. The epic seven-minute-plus track is actually a love song, with Cave pledging "You're the best girl I've ever had" to the woman who sticks with him during the journey through physics and pop culture, with stops to pay homage to Robert Johnson and the blues. After all, Johnson sang of his life and times and a battle with his devils. Cave might as well sing about his.
"Push the Sky Away" is more laid-back and contemplative than Cave's recent work with his side project Grinderman or the Bad Seeds. It's built on guitar loops from Warren Ellis rather than the guitar work of Mick Harvey, who left the Bad Seeds in 2008, ending a 30-year musical partnership with Cave. The shift makes Cave's lyrics and deadpan, storyteller delivery even more the focus. He sounds dangerous on "We Real Cool," with the rumbling guitar loop adding to the song's menacing feel. "We No Who U R," the album's first single, combines trip-hop rhythms with poetry about trees.
"Push the Sky Away" definitely sounds like a new musical chapter for Cave and the Bad Seeds, which, in turn, spawned a new way for him to tell his stories.
Glenn Gamboa, Newsday
Richard Thompson, "Electric" (New West)
True, Thompson's 14th solo album contains more expansive lead guitar work than fans of the 63-year-old fretboard fiend have heard in quite some time. Credit that in part to producer Buddy Miller, a like-minded Nashville cat who's a perfect fit for the acerbic Brit.
Still, "Electric" is somewhat misleadingly titled, as it's rife not only with plugged-in rockers such as "Stony Ground" and "Good Things Happen to Bad People," but also deftly picked acoustic ballads and brooding bummers such as "Salford Sunday" and "Another Small Thing in Her Favour," not to mention the closing "Saving the Good Stuff For You," as tender a love song as the former Fairport Convention folkie has written.
Still consistently excellent, after all these years.
Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer