Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Best Records of 2008 - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' "Dig!!!Lazarus Dig!!!

"Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!" is awesome.

In 2004, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released a double album which was really two separate albums called "Abbatoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus". This is relevant because even after having been around for thirty years (counting his time with The Birthday Party as well as some non-Bad Seeds solo records), many considered "Abbatoir/Lyre" to be his masterpiece. I was one of those people. I was so drawn to that record and have spent so much time with it over the past four years.

"Abbatoir/Lyre" was going to be impossible to top. But then, all of a sudden it wasn't.

It all started when the first single from Nick Cave and the Bad Seed's latest record, "Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!", the title track actually, was released a full month before the record. I downloaded the song and listened to it for a month. It was an aggressive, strange carnival-barking sing along that had all the elements of the best in the Cave cannon.

But that was just the beginning. "Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!" is really a great record. Is it better than "Abbatoir/Lyre"? I'm not sure, but it's close and I have said at various points through the year that it was. I spent the past week revisiting it quite a bit while trying to put this list together and it's hard for me to decide. But, it really doesn't matter. In the context of the music released this year it is virtually without peer.

It is wonderfully ramshackle one minute ("Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!", "We Call Upon the Author") and then it's gorgeously poignant the next ("Hold on to Yourself", "Jesus of the Moon"). This is what sets "Dig!!!" apart. Whereas "Abbatoir/Lyre" were two records with two different styles, "Dig!!!" has managed to meld those two styles into just one perfect record. Cave is having a tremendous 2000's with two (really three) amazing records, not to mention a really fun side project with Grinderman last year. But can he top it? I'm not asking him to, but I wouldn't put it past him.

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