4 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
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After the extended midlife freakout of Grinderman and Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!, Cave and his slowly reformatting Bad Seeds took time to look at where they personally are in relation to what they'd just done. What that means is their most subtle record in some time, with Mick Harvey long gone Warren Ellis' relationship with atmospherics and spaciousness takes more of the centre stage. Against the vaunting bleakness Cave for his own part has largely dialled back from fire eyed bellowing to a a considerate timbre as befits the elliptical, liturgially minded spectator, undercutting emotions and voyeuristic descriptions and ideas with the knowledge that this increasingly belongs to other people. And then he went and did this.
3 Bill Callahan - Dream River
The best thing Callahan has released since he retired the Smog soubriquet, it's also the thing he's done under his own name that sounds most like Smog. That is to say, music that loops and circles around his ever more Scotch-warmed honeyed voice and its metaphor heavy, narrative suggestive story-songs rather than, as late, finds its groove and sticks there. Resonant allusions - flight, spring, wind and water - recur, guitar, flute and hand percussion are used to colour in the lyrical landscapes, a Lambchop-type country-soul feel is evoked and everything and everyone seems more content and meditative with and around their situation, observing nature take its course. For one he's enjoying living, even romance. If this is Callahan at his most content, he's somehow found a way not to let it dull down his style.