2016 in Review: The 20 Best Songs

20. True MoonVoodoo

– Svensk postpunk lever och frodas.

19. The Radio Dept.Swedish Guns

– Radioavdelningen visar att det tydligen går att blanda atmosfärisk pop med politisk text.

18. Christian KjellvanderThe Dark Ain’t That Dark

Jason Molina nickar uppmuntrande från sin himmel.

17. Iggy PopChocolate Drops

– 2016 var året då Iggy kom tillbaka. Tusenfalt. 2016 var inte bara elände, alltså.

16. Marie DanielleOne Night Stands

– Drygt 150 lyssnare på Spotify. Perverst. Denna låt har en av årets största och vackraste refränger.

15. Marissa NadlerKatie I Know

Chelsea Wolfe på stesolid. ”Hänförande” är ordet.

14. Ivy BellsGoing Home

– Skulle ha slagit igenom. Borde ha slagit igenom. Skimrande vemodig pop som för tankarna till Days, The Field Mice och The Mary Onettes. Skamligt förbisedda.

13. 1900 (feat. Ossler och Thåström)- Vi

– Solidaritet gestaltat av en skör melodi, och hummande från Sveriges två tyngsta röster.

12. AllseitsSink In Sideways

– VM-guld i dark ambient 2016 går tveklöst till tyska Allseits. När det moderna samhället äntligen rasar ihop, så är det denna låten som kommer att spelas. Kom ihåg var ni hörde det först.

11. The Good Life Are You Afraid Of Dying?

– Temat ”underskattade band” fortsätter med Omaha, NE:s The Good Life, frontat av Tim Kasher (även känd från Cursive). Ett band som oavsett hur bra de är aldrig får ett riktigt genombrott. Sådan är världen vi lever i.

10. kentDen sista sången

– kent avslutade 2016 karriären med (ännu) ett undermåligt album. Stundtals upprörande dåligt. Men också stundtals riktigt fint. Som i fallet med denna låten. En varm bris i solnedgången, på väg bort mot något annat.

9. Frida HyvönenFredag morgon

– Från ingenstans dyker Frida Hyvönen senhösten 2016 upp och släpper ett makalöst album. Denna blytunga pjäs är skivans mest imponerande stund.

8. Minor Victories (feat. Mark Kozelek) – For You Always

– Ett något poppigare Slowdive möter klassisk (sentida) Kozelek. Enkel lyrik (om man ens kan kalla det för lyrik), men så naket och romantiskt att man får hjärtsvikt.

7. Nick Cave & the Bad SeedsJesus Alone

– You believe in God, but you get no special dispensation for this belief now. Inte ens gudsfruktan hjälper när det allra värsta händer.

6. Leonard CohenYou Want It Darker

– Cohen släpper hösten 2016 en av de tyngsta låtarna i hela karriären (hämtad från det starkaste albumet sedan 1988). Kort därpå dör han. I’m ready, my Lord.

5. Maria Taylor  (feat. Conor Oberst) – If Only

– Mig veterligen hade Maria och Conor inte samarbetat sedan 2007, så detta var mycket välkommet. Och vilken återförening, dessutom! Så vackert och vansinnigt sorgset om andra chanser att ögonen trillar ur skallen på en.

4. David BowieLazarus

– Med facit i hand, det brutalaste som släpptes under 2016.

3. Conor OberstNext of Kin

– Oberst följer upp 2014-års Upside Down Mountain med vad som måste räknas till en av karriärens tre bästa skivor. Här ringar han in förlust på ett fantastiskt och rått sätt:

Her bathrobe hangs on the bedroom door
Though she’s been dead for a year or more
He buried her by the sycamore
So that he could keep her close
It broke his heart and it made him old
Tries to rebuild but it just erodes
Some people say that’s the way it goes
But he don’t feel that way

2. Sun Kil Moon & JesuGood Morning, My Love

– Mot Justin Broadricks blytunga fond ställer Mark Kozelek en av livets viktigaste frågor:

What does rekindle mean?

1. Rome (feat. Thåström) – Stillwell

– 2016 var året då även Jerome Reuter nådde nya höjder. På Stillwell föräras han med ett besök av vännen och ikonen Joakim Thåström, och resultatet är bortom denna värld. Måste upplevas, kan inte vidare beskrivas.

 

Alla låtar har sammanställts i en spellista. Lyssna här

Annonser

Another list: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ten of their best

nick-cave-640x360

There’s been a lot of Nick Cave these last few weeks. But it can’t be helped – less than a week ago he released what might be the greatest album of his career. I can’t get it out of my mind, nor him. So what follows is me trying to gather my thoughts around Nick Cave and the songs that mean the most to me.

10. Knockin’ On Joe

Year: 1985

Album: The Firstborn is Dead

– In a prison in the deep South, in a dark cell buried deep down in Death Row, there’s a convict and he’s singing the blues. He’s about to be executed, but that’s not what’s bringing him down. Nor is it his loss of freedom. Oh, no. He’s tough. He’s stoic about the whole thing. He tells the bitter jailor to lay his burden on him, he defiantly tells the warden that his fists can’t hurt him anymore, not even the preacher with his words of hell and brimstone scares him now. No, what’s making him howl his blues into the night is the loss of his woman. Nancy. These chains of sorrow, they are heavy, it is true And these locks cannot be broken, no, not with one thousand keys. He tells the preacher not to bring Nancy around. He doesn’t want her to see him like this. Tell Nancy not to come And let me die in the memory of her arms.

This is Nick Cave sort of inventing the Southern Gothic genre. Captivating stuff indeed.

9. Jesus Alone

Year: 2016

Album: Skeleton Tree

– It’s a matter of timing. Further on up the road more songs from Skeleton Tree will pop up on lists like this, and possibly higher up. I wrote a piece about this song a week ago. Check it out.

8. Slowly Goes the Night

Year: 1988

Album: Tender Prey

– Could very well deserve a higher position, but let’s not bicker.

This is another song about loss. Here the protagonist is really down in the dumps. Way, way down. He treated his girl a bit so-so and is now sitting crying into his beer for ten lonely days, ten lonely nights. He touches the spot in the bed where she slept, treating it like a monument, he hangs his head in shame blaming himself for not seeing the warning signs – all while the moon outside is being flayed and both night and day gets darker and darker.

He writhes in bed, tosses, sweats, yet still comes to the conclusion that it’s probably going to turn out alright in the end, for both of them – even though he is the one who’s going to do all the crying first.

7. Brompton Oratory

Year: 1997

Album: The Boatman’s Call

– Here the downtrodden protagonist hangs out at a church (guess which one!). His heart is heavy – so heavy, in fact, that he contemplates the idea of being made of stone, just like the statues of the Apostles at the church, so that he wouldn’t have to endure the impossible beauty of the one who got away.

He then exits the church, sits exhausted on the steps outside and conclude that neither God nor Satan could come close in bringing him down to his knees the way that she has done.

Gorgeous stuff from a gorgeous album.

6. Mercy

Year: 1988

Album: Tender Prey

– The leader has lost his followers. He is thrown into a dungeon, fed only bread and water, and with nothing but his faith as his weapon of protection. His life is under constant threat – so constant, even, that it actually bores him. Another example of the stoic Nick Cave character, standing with both fists clenched while life is falling apart all around him. Yet…he cries for mercy.

5. Stranger than Kindness

Year: 1986

Album: Your Funeral…My Trial

– In Nick Cave’s songs it is not unusual that kindness is a rare trait. You’re more likely to find godlessness, death, mayhem, rape, loneliness and heartbreak than pure kindness. Here he acknowledge the apartness of kindness, and at the same time declaring himself a stranger to kindness.

The lyrics are, to me, a fractured, yet beautiful, mess. There’s no clear narrative. Disturbing images following disturbing images.

A strange lit stair
And find a rope hanging there
Stranger than kindness

Keys rain like heaven’s hair
There is no home there is no bread
We sit at the gate and scratch
The gaunt fruit of passion
Dies in the light
Stranger than kindness

You hold me so carelessly close
Tell me I’m dirty
Stranger than kindness

4. Your Funeral…My Trial

Year: 1986

Album: Your Funeral…My Trial

– A crooked man walking a crooked mile, while his crooked conscience plays tricks on him. And night is engulfing him, taking over everything, becoming a threat, a fang. His woman is a crooked bitch, a monger of pain, but he can’t shake her. He has to face her and whatever consequence it may entail.

This is Nick at perhaps his most haunted.

3. Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere?

Year: 1997

Album: The Boatman’s Call

– Nick has written many songs about lost love and love falling apart, and many of them can be found on Boatman’s Call, but none of them hits harder than this one.

This song depicts a man thinking back on what he had, what he lost and how it all came to be. He remembers the good times; intimate moments in hotel rooms when their love dissolved time. But mostly he remembers the not-so-great moments. Razor sharp images culled straight from dreary everyday life: having tea and biscuits on a park bench, with nothing to talk about, and with the Serenity Prayer ringing in his head (which says it all, really). Then there’s the scene where they aimlessly and listlessly goes round and around a duckpond. Going nowhere.

Gloomily and mournfully we go round again
And one more doomed time and without much hope
Going round and around to nowhere

He later on remembers a time when there still was hope and he wants to relive it. Back then no one knew the way things would turn out. Back then this was inconceivable.  But…all that you love you lose. Even the things you thought you never ever could lose. Things that you were supposed to carry with you till the day that your final breath leaves your body. And when you’ve lost the most important thing in your life you’ll most likely spend the rest of your days going round and around to nowhere.

2. A Box for Black Paul

Year: 1984

Album: From Her to Eternity

– One of the greatest songs about death I have ever heard. Death, betrayal in death, distrust, getting no redress. The complete opposite of…

1. Push the Sky Away

Year: 2013

Album: Push the Sky Away

– …this one. This is Nick at his most comforting. This song is pure comfort. Love. This song tells us that it’s alright to feel whatever it is that we might feel, that we’re right, and at the same time that we shouldn’t give in to whatever negative element that is trying to get a hold of us.

The music is atmospheric. It’s melancholic without being maudlin. It shimmers and floats without friction and is a perfect match for the lyrics.This is the song I can put on at any given moment without it losing any of its power. It gets you right down to your soul. 

 

Buy Nick’s albums from Amazon, Nick’s webpage Ginza, or listen to them on Spotify

The photo is retrieved from Stereogum.

Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

skeleton

What do you do when something vital is mercilessly torn from you? How are you supposed to act when the universe rips your heart out of your chest and replaces it with…nothing in particular? How do you deal with complete and utter loss? You can shut down. Retreat back inside. Paint the windows black. Destroy your phone. Sew your mouth shut and cut both ears off. Build a massive wall. Communicate only with your memories and your ghosts. Or…you can clench your fists and stoically return to whatever it is that you do best..  That is what Nick Cave has done. He went back to working on the album he was halfway through when tragedy struck last July.

I was an electrical storm on the bathroom floor, clutching the bowl

Oh, the urge to kill somebody was basically overwhelming
I had such hard blues down there in the supermarket queues

No one would ever have blamed him if he had retired after this. How do you go on? Few would.

And if you want to bleed, just bleed

And if you want to leave, don’t breathe

But he didn’t retire. He didn’t shut down. He elevated. And then came out of the studio with what could very well be the best album of his career.

It’s an album immersed in grief. The lyrics are scenarios stacked on top of each other, forming wholes, both logical and illogical, abstract, yet perfectly lucid. There’s no real narrative, just like Nick says in the accompanying film. The scenarios speak of loss and of existence crumbling under your feet, while at the same time remaining the same.

The song, the song it spins, the song, it spins, it spins no more
The phone, it rings, it rings and you won’t stay

I knew the world it would stop spinning now since you’ve been gone
I used to think that when you died you kind of wandered the world
In a slumber til your crumbled were absorbed into the earth
Well, I don’t think that any more

I am sawn in half and all the stars are splashed across the ceiling

The music perfectly matches the lyrics. The synths, the guitars, the strings, the percussion and those strange rhythms that sometimes pop up form atmospheric soundscapes and melodies that perfectly encapsulates Nick’s fractured poetry.

Then there’s the penultimate track Distant Sky, a duet with Danish soprano Else Torp. A song so angelic and classical in its sound that it feels like it’s always been around. Sprung from earth or washed down from the sky in some heavy ancient rain. This is catharsis.

Let us go now, my darling companion
Set out for the distant skies
See the sun, see it rising
See it rising, rising in your eyes

The last track (which is also the title track) speaks of acceptance. Your heart may be torn out of your chest and you may never stop bleeding, but it’s alright. It has to be alright. Otherwise everything stops.

And I called out, I called out
Right across the sea
I called out, I called out
That nothing is for free

And it’s alright now
And it’s alright now
And it’s alright now

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds has made the album of the year. It’s going to be excrutiatingly tough for those who want to challenge them for the title.

Buy Skeleton Tree from CDON, Amazon or Nick’s webpage, or listen to it on Spotify.

Picture retrieved from http://www.nickcave.com I claim no ownership whatsoever.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Jesus Alone

This week’s big musical event is arguably the release of the new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album Skeleton Tree out on September 9 and its accompanying film One More Time With Feeling released the day before as a one-night-only event on select theaters around the world.

Less than a week ago a single was released called Jesus Alone. A brooding track, filled with a feverish, buzzing guitar, pensive piano and a string section.

“You believe in god, but you get no special dispensation for this belief now”, Nick sings, and continues “You’re a distant memory in the mind of your creator, don’t you see?”, sounding like someone whose God, what- or whoever that may be, has abandoned him. And following the death of Nick’s teenage son last year, these feelings and ideas are very easy to understand. He touches upon this in the trailer released in August.  ”What happens when an event occurs that is so catastrophic that you just change?”, he asks. ”You change from the known person to an unknown person. So that when you look at yourself in the mirror, you recognize the person that you were, but the person inside the skin is a different person.”

To me, this is easily one of the very best songs of the year, and it bodes extremely well for the album.