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Published:March 15th, 2013 08:11 EST
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds` 'Push The Sky Away' Holds Some Soothing Secrets!

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds` 'Push The Sky Away' Holds Some Soothing Secrets!

By John G. Kays


I was munching on a sandwich on the patio of Whole Foods when Nick Cave held an autograph party over across the street at Waterloo Records, on Wednesday. Alright, that`s how SXSW is, there`s Stars all around and you don`t even know it! I hear Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds gave a killer performance that night at Stubbs BBQ. Well, I missed that too, but did have enough sense to pick up Push The Sky Away last Saturday, ironically, at the aforementioned Waterloo.


Been rolling the platter about a dozen times, using headphones of course, and this baby has a CD booklet with pristine printed lyrics, that include Nick`s edits, deletions and added lines in pencil. Very Cool!  Tiny pics sprinkle the booklet of the band in the studio, La Fabrique, Saint-Remy de Provence. And one thing that`s important to me, is there are ample credits given on the last two pages, such as Barry Adamson is on bass on tracks 7 and 9. What`s the cover all about?


May be wrong, but I saw hints of it in the lyrics of Mermaids, which include pipings of God and more meager testosterone, brought on by an aging process for a veteran Punk Rocker (Note: Push The Sky Away is the 15th record for the fluctuating band). Great cover, even though we don`t know what it means! While I`m clueless what the lyrics or cover mean, I do know a lot of rumination went into each and every word and note recorded. And Nick recommends you listen to the songs in tandem with one another; I`m taking his advice.


Don`t know why it is, but as I listen, the movie Mystic River comes to mind; Sean Penn won an Academy Award for that one. Push The Sky Away is brooding and dark and menacing, just like Mystic River. The analogy is vague and possibly misappropriated, but try it on and see if it fits for you. Before I forget, a good word to describe the record is atonal; Nick doesn`t sing so much as he does, merely recitate. The lines are good poetry and you can hear the words clearly, then you can read the typed poetry and it penetrates your dull skull better!


While I like all the songs, my very favorite is the second one, Wide Lovely Eyes. A gorgeous recording and exquisite lines of love limerick. I was thinking of one of Claude Monet`s early paintings of a woman down by the sea, which is what the lines talk about. A guitar chug-a-lugs like a chu chu train, bass thumping on the tonic against carefully articulated electric piano, luscious, ethereal background vocals, impressions of a lady contemplating the wonderments of life down by the tumbling sea.


Okay, so it`s Water`s Edge that made me think of Mystic River; oh, and the theme song had that effect too. Water`s Edge is pitch dark as black night, but it`s still a love anthem, a conundrum played with cleverly by Mister Cave.  `You grow old & you grow cold` is in pencil, apparently a last minute add on. A little chant that acts as a semi-Greek chorus for the menacing ode about some girls and boys mingling in some kind of strange ritual down by the Water`s Edge (for me, Mystic River flashes return!)


Don`t know what Higgs Boson Blues is about? Robert Johnson appears in it and the Lorraine Hotel; I suppose this is a real chronicle of Nick in Memphis. Very stark, absorbing the sordid history and the mesmerizing soul of the music, paying tribute to the forerunners of the blues. 


Gets stuck in the rough end of town, though, towards the end; has Hannah Montana sex flashes in the end. At least Cave is honest! Can`t put it down; fascinating record! *(Rolling Stone mini-review is way shallow!)


http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/push-the-sky-away-20130219