Nick Cave Out-U2′s U2

Nick Cave released two new albums on the same day, in the same package, recently, and when I put it on, my stereo caught fire.

Well, no, not literally. But as rock and roll goes, this is as furiously concentrated and intense as anything you’ll hear all year. In fact, in the way he breaks new ground as an artist … the way he bellows like a preacher in the throes of divine inspiration … the way he digs down into the muck of sin and clambers up the mountain for a meeting with God … the way he comes down from that mountain in a way that SOUNDS like his face is all aglow … the way he artfully weaves Scripture through lyrics that echo ancient mythology and modern pop culture references … Nick Cave achieves a remarkable thing: He’s makes TWO albums that deliver on the promise of the best U2 albums. He out-U2′s U2!

Listening to Cave’s albums back-to-back with the new U2 record, it’s easy to hear which album is the greater achievement. On U2′s album, there are moments of true inspiration … those times, as Bono likes to say, “when God walked in the room.” Cave’s records make it sound like God showed up early and stayed all day.

Check out Abattoir Blues and The Lyre of Orpheus.

Caution: As per usual, when Cave decides that strong language is appropriate to get his message across, he uses it. This may be offensive to some listeners. To this listener, though, the words have real meaning, and are not used foolishly.

For more, read Josh Hurst’s review at Reveal.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Darren,
    I’ve been reading your raves about it, and I actually had it in my hand at the store yesterday when I saw the “Guero” special editon. Agony. I had to choose. So I went with the Beck, figuring I could pick up the Gabriel DVD much cheaper on Amazon. Looking forward to it. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Darren

    Thanks for the recommendation, Jeff. I didn’t realize that Guero was getting the 5.1 treatment.

    Have you picked up Peter Gabriel’s Play? Along with a great collection of videos, you also get new 5.1 mixes from Daniel Lanois. Some are subtle; others are complete reimaginings of the songs. Play has become my new demo disc for multi-channel music.

  • Josh

    I heard Guero yesterday and LOVED it. It has exceeded all my expectations.

    To me, it sounds like an ideal mix of Beck’s two best albums, Sea Change and Odelay. It combines the focus and the melodicism of Sea Change with Odelay’s genre-hopping eclecticism, and the result is one of Beck’s most enjoyable albums yet. In fact, though many fans will disagree with me, I think it’s one of his very finest albums.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    If you’ve heard those two, you’ve heard enough to recognize what a giant step forward these two albums represent.

    Still, I’d recommend you check out an older release called The Boatman’s Call, eventually, and also a great one called From Her to Eternity. Those are keepers as well.

  • Joel

    Wow…I can’t wait to check this out! I heard the last two Nick Cave albums, but I’m still really a novice when it comes to his music. Is there any one album you recommend listening to first? (other than Nocturama & And No More Shall We Part)


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