Culture
Music
Attacking the Very Thing You´re Defending:An examination of the latter day lyrics of NICK CAVE

Attacking the Very Thing You´re Defending:An examination of the latter day lyrics of NICK CAVE

Published November 5, 2004

On the masterful Let Love In, he concentrates on the conflict and heartbreak that so often comes with love, particularly on the title track: “Despair and deception/Love´s ugly little twin/Came knocking on my door/I let them in” reminiscent of William Blake´s “There is a smile of love and a smile of deceit/ And a smile of smiles where the two smiles meet.” On the follow up, the breakthrough Murder Ballads, he steps back and makes fun of all he´s said so far, taking obsessive love to its logical conclusion. Once the dust had settled in O´Malleys bar and Loretta was safely locked up, Cave came out with his saddest and yet most romantic album, The Boatman´s Call, supposedly about his withdrawal from PJ Harvey and heroin. Moments of tenderness abound, from lying in bed with a loved one not reading the Sunday papers, to going to church thankful for another day. And then, inevitably, it all falls apart again, the dream cannot last, and it concludes with the singer saying: Then leave me to my enemied dreams/ And be quiet as you are leaving, Miss.”

A venom rarely heard in popular music
After the release of Boatman´s Call, Nick Cave suggested that he might never make another album, as he had nothing more to say in song. Instead, he would grow tomatoes and write a book. But he still had one statement left to make. After a four year hiatus, his longest so far, he returned with No More Shall We Part, perhaps his greatest work. At first it sounded familiar, but once you start to peel the layers away you perhaps come closer to the black heart of Nick Cave than ever before. In the beautiful opening track, “As I Sat Sadly By Her Side,” he sits with a girl who marvels at the wonders of the world, before correcting her by pointing out its horrors, reducing her to tears. Here, finally, was Nick Caves ode to sorrow. Every step is laced with tragedy “I thought I´d take a walk today/ A mistake I sometimes make” In that very song, “Oh My Lord,” he tears at his audience (“They called at me through the fence/They weren´t making any sense”), himself (“Someone cries what are you looking for/ I scream “the plot, the plot””) and the notion of stardom (“The tears you are crying now/ Are just your answered prayers”) with a venom rarely seen in popular music or, in fact, anywhere. And in the rubble of this deconstruction Nick Cave finally found true greatness. He had always been imitator rather than innovator. But he did imitate the best, and he did it very well. Now, finally, he was ready to take his place among the greats. But he did not remain there very long.

From a glimpse to blindness
After a couple of stunning concerts in Hótel Ísland, the bar was set higher than ever for all of us fortunate enough to be present. Still, one was willing to forgive him the opening track of his new album, “Wonderful Life.” Everyone deserves a bit of happiness every now and then, even Nick Cave. But the remaining nine songs breeze by without bothering anyone were much, and are not even as effective as celebrations as his previous glimpses of joy.
For this was more than a glimpse. Nick Cave was happy now. He was newly married, the father of twins, and between the hours of nine and five he went to the office and wrote songs. He was not the first man to sacrifice his genius for happiness. His final reckoning with sadness on No More Shall We Part also seemed to be his final brush with greatness. Or was it?
Anyone can be forgiven a bad album every now and then. When news came out that Nick Cave was releasing a double album, expectations ran high he was making amends. Was the memory of Nocturama was to be erased by a twin masterpiece?

Songs with a happy ending
Some of the first indications were not good. Blixa Bargeld, who, on his time off from Einstuerzende Neubauten was a vital part of the Bad Seeds sound, departed, perhaps realising that his old master had nothing more to offer. And in an interview in Word Magazine, Cave said that his lead single “Nature Boy” was the type of song which would previously have been relegated to B-Side. When only three years earlier he could afford to throw away masterpieces such as “Grief Came Riding” on flip sides, now they were not only lead singles, “Nature Boy” sadly also manages to be the best song on the promisingly titled but ultimately disappointing Abattoir Blues.
Once he has gotten through telling us to get ready for love, Cave continues with “Most of all, nothing ever really happens.” In his office in Brighton, you mean? Meanwhile, outside his window the world had indeed gone to war. Things do not get better with “Cannibal´s Hymn” (another bloody title perhaps meant to disguise blandness), probably the most embarrasing thing he has yet committed to plastic. Before the first verse is through he´s rhymed “unlock you” with “defrock you” and even trumping that with “rock you.” It gets worse still in the chorus: “If you´re gonna dine with them cannibals/ Sooner or later you´re gonna get eaten.” He then moves on to a Cohen quote, sitting like a bird on a fence before making a halfhearted apology to the listener with “I will…sing you songs with a happy ending/ Swoop down and tell you that it don´t make much sense/ To attack the very thing you´re defending.” It is only on the third song, “Hiding All Away,” that he makes a reference to the current events that recently inspired Tom Waits to make his best album in a decade. This he does in the form of another Cohen quote; “There is a war…coming.”

The fine art of eloquent pornography
“Messiah Ward” includes the chorus “bringing out the dead,” the very same words that inspired the previously infallible Martin Scorsese to make his first bad film, and Cave does little better, waxing poetical with: “We could navigate our position by the stars/ But they´ve taken out the stars,” before adding “The stars have all gone,” in case you missed the point. “There She Goes, My Beautiful World,” begins like an introduction to botany: “The wintergreen, the juniper/ the cornflower and the chicory” Nick Cave then utilises every trick available to the poet out of words, a female choir and an endless succession of name dropping from Johnny Thunders to Gaughin, and almost gets away with it.
He moves on to the suspiciosly single-like single “Nature Boy.” But at least he´s trying here. The first verse, about a boy watching the horrors on the news, his father telling him not to look away but still to believe in the triumph of beauty, is kind of cute. And the second verse, when he discovers desire, reads like a prequel to “Let Love In.” “You said hey nature boy, are you looking at me with some unrightous intention…/I was having thoughts it was not in my best interest to mention.” It is only in the third verse that he looses it, with “You played the patriot, raised the flag and I stood at full salute.” Cave still has a lot to learn from Cohen on the art of being an eloquent pornographer. And the song also includes the second reference on the album to Sappho. Perhaps he´s watching too much lesbian porn at the office?

God and splatter
The second album starts more promisingly, with a splatterfest version of the Orpheus myth. God gets a cameo, cruel as always, “a major player in heaven,” and splatters Orpheus´ brains all over the place. In his heyday, Cave would throw away better lines on a Batman soundtrack “What about God and his Armageddon/ He´s all blissed out up in heaven,” the Lord not even caring enough to come back and destroy us all as he promised. But this, at least, is interesting. And Cave is having fun rather than singing about it, rhyming “pluck” with “f…oh my God” and “Orfeus” with “orifice.” We here see some of the vindictive rage that has made Nick Cave one of the most interesting artists of the past 20 years. But by the second song, the single “Breathless” (wasn´t that a Madonna song?) he´s all blissed out again, singing about the birds and the bees. He´s still on about birds in “Babe, You Turn Me On,” a lesser cousin of “Babe, I Got You Bad” and the funny-once “Babe, I´m on Fire,” before he gets pornographic again, putting “one hand on your round ripe heart/ And another down your panties,” a bit more graphic than one might have hoped.
The business end of the gun is pointed in the singers direction in “Easy Money,” about the trials and tribulations of having more money than most. Self indulgent, but amusing. One would hope this would lead to the same self examination that in the past yielded such wonderful works, but no, having gotten the guilt of the rich off his chest, he goes on about how happy he is. And on and on and on. Yes, love can surely feel supernatural and like a spell, but the tragedy here is that Nick Cave seems to have very little left to say on the subject.
Nick Cave has often said that he likes the latterday works of past masters, to see them past their prime. It´s his turn now. And it is a testament to his great talent that even at his worst he still manages to be more interesting than most. Still, with a bland single album and then a bland double to follow, one worries that his days as a creative artist may be over. But my god what a run he had.



Culture
Music
Carry Me, Mark Kozelek

Carry Me, Mark Kozelek

by

Sun Kil Moon, the notorious North Korean dictator, ordered the execution of a series of puffins by firing squad as an apparent snub to a cooling of Iceland-DPRK relations, reports KCNA. “They don’t belong on our plates”, said the DPRK’s Taskforce on the Creation of Food Abundance, apparently caught unawares by a certain irony. Just kidding. Sun Kil Moon, real name Mark Kozelek, is playing Reykjavík this Friday. He has been in my memory since 2004, when my mother took my brother and I with her decades of savings to Greece on a family outing. At Paris – Charles De

Culture
Music
HOLY SHIT DOOMRIDERS ARE IN TOWN!

HOLY SHIT DOOMRIDERS ARE IN TOWN!

by

Hey guess what! Doomriders are back in town! And they’re playing Húrra tonight! This seminal metal band tore our faces off and shook our guts to the core when they burned down Grand Rokk eight years ago (with the help of I Adapt). That show certainly left a mark on a lot of people in Iceland’s metal scene (much like the 2004 Iðnó appearance by Doomriders’ stalwart Nate Newton’s other band, the mighty Converge), so much that noted hater Bogi Bjarnason is even excited for the show. This is what he told us: To wrap your weekend up on a high note,

Culture
Music
GY!BE, Deafheaven, Mudhoney AND MORE For ATP 2015

GY!BE, Deafheaven, Mudhoney AND MORE For ATP 2015

by

While some of you have barely gotten over Airwaves, the news just keep rolling in for next year’s SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVALS! So, imagine you’re at All Tomorrow’s Parties , the  sun is beaming down on your face as you close your eyes and hug your friends, laughing jovially at how lovely life is, while your ears are being made love to by Canadian post rock LEGENDS: Godspeed You! Black Emperor. YEAH! They will be joined by (drum roll please): Belle and Sebastian Run The Jewels Mudhoney Deafheaven Iceage Loop Chelsea Wolfe The Field White Hills Ghostigital Vision Fortune Younghusband Tall Firs

Culture
Music
Carcass Announced For Eistnaflug 2015

Carcass Announced For Eistnaflug 2015

by

Metal pioneers Carcass and heavy metal stalwarts Kvelertak were added today to Iceland’s annual Eistnaflug metal festival’s lineup. The festival is held each year in Neskaupsstaður, but announced that it’s upping its ante this year, inhabiting a bigger venue and with more tickets available. Carcass originated in Liverpool, England and have been playing since 1985 and are considered by many the founders of grindcore, as well as being credited with influencing the melodic death metal movement. Last year they released their sixth studio album, ‘Surgical Steel,’ which is their first in seventeen years. The complete lineup for Eistnaflug is as follows: Agent Fresco (IS)

Culture
Music
Markéta Irglová Plays in Harpa Concert Hall tonight

Markéta Irglová Plays in Harpa Concert Hall tonight

by

Academy Award winning musician Markéta Irglová will play at Harpa concert hall tonight as part the final step of her two-month tour around Europe and North America. Markéta first came to prominence as a seventeen year old in the Irish feature film ‘Once.’ The film ended up claiming the 2006 Academy Award for Best Original Song and Marketa subsequently toured for years with her co-star Glen Hansard under the banner of “The Swell Season”. In more recent times Iceland has become Markéta’s adopted home, and her new album ‘Remember’ was entirely written here. “I came to Iceland for the first time with

Culture
Music
Welcome To The New Year

Welcome To The New Year

by and

By the time this issue hits the streets, we will be halfway through the fourteenth edition of the Iceland Arwaves festival. At the day of publication, Friday November 7, Straumur will be hosting an off-venue show at the independent cinema Bíó Paradís, where Vorhees, Sin Fang and Unknown Mortal Orchestra will perform (in that order!) from 16:15-19:00. Later that same day, we will also be hosting an official Airwaves show at Gaukurinn (starting at 20:00) where, among others, Oyama, Strigaskór Nr. 42, Black Bananas and Fufanu will grace the stage. The off-venue in Bíó Paradís continues throughout the weekend during

Show Me More!