Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why There's No Money in My 401(k): A Diary of Obsessive Materialism (Vol. 5)

In an effort to fulfill some bizarre need in my life, I purchase a lot of CDs, both old and new. They are obsessively cataloged and organized and poured over track by track (Seriously, it's obsessive. It involves post-it notes and code and excel spreadsheets). It is truly a labor of love (and an unhealthy psychological imperative). But, since I am consuming so much music, I thought I could use this constant influx for the powers of good. Should I come across anything worth sharing (either a new release or an old favorite), I will share them with you. So you'll love me.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds — Murder Ballads (Mute)Some history: Back before daytime television and 24 hour news networks, the only way the uneducated populace could get their dose of sordid intrigue was through the murder ballad, a sub-genre of music that offered up tale after tragic tale of lives cut short and the folks who did the cutting. The style died away, no pun intended, after the depression era as radio became more prevalent. Thankfully, ever with an eye for sordid intrigue, Nick Cave recorded an album of homage to the style, updating some traditional classics and penning a fresh new batch of mortal melodies. Though, since people are less easily shocked nowadays, Mr. Cave had to up the theatrics, and Murder Ballads comes out the speakers with the fire of a revival preacher and the body count of a 1970s slasher flick.

Starting the album, the ironically titled "Song of Joy" oozes from the speaker somewhere between "cautionary tale" and "threat." Grimly intoning over dark, bar-room piano, Cave tells the tale of a family, bound and murdered, "Paradise Lost" quotes written in blood on the walls. True to the genre, narrative and melodrama fuse to create a piece that is moving and atmospheric, and, at its heart, entertaining. The narrative unfolds, grizzly murders portrayed in a mildly anachronistic language that permeates the album, imbuing the whole bloody mess with the charm of a bleak folklore and urban legend retold to the listener by an old and not-entirely-trusted relative.

Read the rest at KUCI.ORG


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