So, while everyone plotting their adventures in Austin (where?) and getting tied up in that SXSW nonsense, we are content to stay here in NYC and sit around and listen to the latest releases from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and The Gutter Twins -- Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! and Saturnalia, respectively.
For those of you who missed the Valentine's Day pr blitz, The Gutter Twins are the inimitable and formidable Greg Dulli (late of The Afghan Whigs) and Mark Lanegan (ex-Screaming Trees). Though Lanegan appeared on all the Twilight Singers albums (Dulli's sorta solo project from 2000-2007), he started appearing as a backup singer on TS tours a few years ago; we flipped out when we saw them at The Parish in the fall of 2006 -- what a sight to behold! And not bad for the ears, either.
Apparently, they so enjoyed the experience of working together that they started recording an album in 2003, ditched the Twilight Singers mantle and reemerged as The Gutter Twins. The album so long in the making, Saturnalia, was released by Sub Pop yesterday. First off, put your 90's prejudices behind you -- really, if anyone should have survived the Grunge shitstorm, it's Dulli and Lanegan. They never quite fit the paradigm anyway, producing music on the fringes of fame in the mid-90's. And, it's true, Saturnalia flirts with the churning, grinding sound that made the Afghan Whigs so divine -- but it's certainly not a detriment. (Especially on panty peeler "God's Children," and album closer "Front Street" is ripped right from the old Whigs' epic blues playbook.)
And holy buckets, did we mention Mark Lanegan's voice yet? (You remember his voice? Right? Tar-lined gravel pit, 40 feet deep?) Not that Dulli's a slouch in this department -- just a mention of his impromptu cover of "I'm On Fire" at the aforementioned Twilight Singers show is enough to send us into paroxysms of teenage girl giggles and wise old lady winks.
And, of course, it doesn't help our current lovelorn states that Saturnalia is full of real heartbreakers and longing. Pinkie advises not listening to it anywhere in public if Dulli/Lanegan vocals might make you weak in the knees.
We missed The Gutter Twins' now kind of mythic Valentine's Day gig at Bowery; you can catch them, though, on tour now through the US and Europe through May 4. They'll be back in NYC on March 19th at Webster Hall.
Your special bonus, the video for the Afghan Whigs' "Gentlemen"
And here's a piece of "Front Street" live in London a few days ago.
As an interlude, I was reminded that once upon a time, we called Devastations something along the lines of Nick Cave with a dash of Afghan Whigs. (No, really. I did.) They also kind of sounded like The National, occasionally. Now they're like. Um. Well, let's just say that on their new one, Yes, U, they've figured out how to sound like ... themselves. I know we recommended this last week, but we must bring it up again, mostly as a segue into the Nick Cave section of this entry.
Devastations -- Rosa
Devastations -- Mistakes
Yr. next bonus video. Devastations' "Take You Home"
Right. So, we kind of have this new unofficial rule about not listening to albums before release dates. You'll notice that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' latest, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, was out Monday in the UK, and won't be out here until April sometime. Really, we love Mute and all, but separate release dates in this day and age seem kind of silly. Therefore, we're discussing this one, as we did with the new Goldfrapp, after the UK release. Because we want to.
We must also mention that as much as we lurve Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, we will NOT be going to see them play what is sure to be a truncated, assy set at the loathsome PLUG Awards this Thursday at Terminal 5. Because your favorite Cindy Hotpoint will NOT suffer through Patton Oswalt for anyone, even Nick Cave. And Pinkie just hates "fun." We endured the PLUG nonsense once before to see The National and Celebration; the only thing that saved the experience, besides the great sets from the aforementioned bands, were the motion graphics from Austin's awesome SUPER!ALRIGHT!. Here's hoping that Nick Cave et al play more U.S. dates sometime this year, even if they've stated they won't. We'll keep our fingers crossed. [N.B. and edit by Pinkie - We are complete and total liars. We'll see you there. But I still hate "fun."]
So, right, the album. Well, ok. How do you follow up Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus AND Grinderman? Well, you make a slightly goofy album that takes a sharp right turn somewhere in the middle and you end up back squarely on the road to that dark warehouse out by the industrial park where you probably shouldn't go, but there's a really great band playing there, or so you hear. Maybe.
Which is to say that we just got through listening to Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, and spent a good portion of it with idiotic grins plastered to our little faces. There's really nothing quite like Nick Cave hollering epic lyrics for 20 minutes straight and then quietly crooning something dirty about 3 songs later. I've seen the phrase "return to form" and "new direction" both bandied about in reference to this album -- that's a little reductive. It's not like we're begging for Nick Cave and band to do something new -- though we certainly didn't turn down Grinderman's ham-fisted come-ons -- but we always love it when he and the boys surprise us. Which is why we're quite pleased to whole-heartedly recommend Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!. Like you expected anything less...
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds -- Jack the Ripper
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds -- (I'll Love You) Till the End of the World
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds -- Breathless
Bonus vid, natch. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds -- "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!"
ps -- here's our setlist from Saturday -- in case you were wondering. Thanks to Neon Lights for having us, the staff at Galapagos for being really awesome and sweet and Crystal Stilts for being totally amazing and hype-worthy.
Wolfgang Press -- Shut That Door // Grinderman -- No Pussy Blues // Human Sexual Response -- What Does Sex Mean To Me? // James White & the Blacks -- Contort Yrself
X-Ray Spex -- Art-i-ficial // Japan -- Adolescent Sex // Suzi Quatro -- Rock Hard // Sparks -- Angst in Yr Pants // Human League -- Being Boiled // This Microwave World -- Fun Fun Fun // Throbbing Gristle -- Hot on the Heels of Love // Felix da Housecat -- Silver Screen Shower Scene // Marsheaux -- Popcorn // Book of Love -- Lullabye // Brian Eno -- Everything Merges With the Night.
Short and sweet, but it was a cold night and there was a bangin' party in the little room that looked like gobs of fun...