When I was a kid, professional wrestlers were the coolest thing not music related that I had ever encountered. I remember spending hours watching old matches, pay per views and anything else I could find. As I grew older I wasn’t as interested, but in the last few years, friends, as well as a huge amount of stress and regression because of the stress brought me back to the world of Sports Entertainment as it’s called. This weekend I’m heading to Dallas, along with my wife and close friends to experience Wrestlemania 38 in all its glory. Before that, I thought it was pertinent to share the Ten best Matches I’ve watched during my complete binge of every single Wrestlemania ever. I hope you enjoy!!
BROCK LESNAR/ UNDERTAKER/ WM 30
BIANCE BELAIR/ SASHA BANKS/ WM 36
SHAWN MICHEALS/ CHRIS JERICHO/ WM 19
HULK HOGAN/ ANDRE THE GIANT/ WM 3
CHARLOTTE FLAIR/ SASHA BANKS/ BECKY LYNCH: WM 33
10 RICKY STEAMBOAT/ SAVAGE: WM 3
Early on, most WWE athletes weren’t universally toned and muscular like they are now. Lots of these guys were just big. The Steamboat/ Savage match stands out as a highlight in those early days. It was well rehearsed, acrobatic in large sections, and finalized a great story of rivalry and jealousy in a match that you notice more and more great maneuvers the more you watch. Savage is tremendous as an obsessed bad guy during this, with Ricky the Dragon using his sharp and slick moves to blast back against the Macho Man.
9 STONE COLD/ ROCK: WM 15
These two have three pretty amazing matches at Mania during the heights of both of their careers, but this one is probably the best. The No Disqualification rule is used within an inch of its life, with much of the match happening outside the ring and many foreign objects playing a role in the chaos. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawyer are over the top as hell in the broadcasters role. Of course the big bad guy Vince McMahon plays a role in the fracas, as does Mankind aka Mick Foley. The plotting is pretty clear through most of the match, but the action is relentless, like any main event should be.
8 TLC- EDGE & CHRISTIAN/ DUDLEYS/ HARDYS: WM 17
During the Attitude Era, these three times were responsible for some of the best matches in the entire company. This triple threat Tables Ladders and Chairs match is the stuff of legend. All six men are put through the ringer, with Edge having a particularly memorable spear from the ladder in Jeff Hardy. In the end, Edge and Christian come out on top, in what is probably my favorite TLC match during Mania.
7 EDDIE GUERRO/ KURT ANGLE WM 20
This match was a long time coming, and it didn't disappoint. Angle is at his peak during this, and Guerrero is his usual sneaky, quick on his feet competitor. It’s not too long of a match, but the action is frequent and fast paced throughout. Angle is more technical, obviously, but the tendency for Eddie to use unorthodox moves or techniques makes the blink and you’ll miss the nature of the match all the more fun to watch.
6 FLAIR/ LYNCH/ ROUSEY: WM 35
Truth be told, this match is just better than the crowd gives it credit for. The lead up was epic, with Becky coming out of nowhere to win the Royal Rumble, setting up the first ever women's Mania main event. It was a particularly long event that year, with the main event starting at the five hour mark. Still, the women in the spotlight didn’t disappoint. It ended up being the moment of the “Man,” when Becky Lynch became champion, and it capped off many other amazing moments at the longest mania to date, I think.
5 CAREER MATCH- RIC FLAIR/ SHAWN MICHAELS WM 24
Very few moments during these events are enough to get you emotional. This moment and march is one of them. The entrances to both wrestlers are poignant and the fan reactions are overwhelming. Flair and Michaels weren’t the main draws anymore, but the match is a master class in skill and preparedness. Flair's family is in the front row, and the emotion is clear when Michaels begins his finishing moves. One of those matches you watch over and over again.
4 ROCK/ JOHN CENA: WM 29
The storyline for this in the lead up to the match couldn’t have been better planned and executed. John Cena, defeated the year before, turns his failure into a massive moment for the Rock to put him over in a big way. Both men look fantastic, and really go in for a large variety of back and forth competition that lasts for nearly half an hour. You can tell both Cena and the Rock are feeding off the crowd, who love and show their approval in big ways all throughout the match. As the match goes forward, Cena shines as he outsmarts the Rock in an eventual title victory to a soaring crowd who loved every minute.
3 HELL IN A CELL- UNDERTAKER/ HHH: WM 28
It’s easily one of the most violent matches, even without the Hell in a Cell gimmick, that it’s pretty impressive how good both athletes showcase the other throughout the match. You can tell there’s mutual respect there, which always helps the match. The rousing screams of HHH imploring Michaels to end the match as his best friend looks on is classic, but in the end, the Deadman once again prevails.
2 ROLLINS/ REIGNS/ LESNAR: WM 31
The Heist of the century, as it’s known, has one of the best twists of any wrestling match in the history of Mania. First you get a chaotic and stellar match between Reigns and Lesnar, and while that would likely be enough, you have the ending. Lesnar is a beast early on, with blood already appearing on his face in those early minutes. However, all those moments are in the shadows as soon as Rollins comes sprinting down the massive walkway as he seizes the moment and shocks a giant stadium full of people.
1 NO DQ RETIREMENT- STREAK- UNDERTAKER/ SHAWN MICHAELS: WM 26
When the broadcasters start this match they make mention of how anticipated this had been so long leading up to the match. The year before the same men battled in a classic. This match eclipsed that with much larger ramifications. Taker hadn’t yet lost at Mania, and Shawn Michaels was maybe the biggest star of the time, in terms of ring skill and general likability as a character. The match is long, but it never seems hard to watch for me. It does the impossible- making both stars look better than you even thought they could. Michaels is at his best l, taunting and egging the Undertaker in a way most aren’t able to do. The backflip off the top rope onto the broadcasters table is epic but excruciating to watch, but these two guys leave it all out there, to a huge positive crowd reaction.
In 2001, during my only metal & hard rock phase, Atlanta’s Sevendust became one of my favorite bands after releasing their third major label album. “Animosity.” A few years earlier they had shown up on my radar, and while I enjoyed the likes of Korn, Deftones and so on, Sevendust always stood out to me.
One of the reasons for that is how great the band is at mixing the heavy with the heartfelt, walking the line between nu metal, hard rock, and some form of a power ballad. The point is on that third album the five members of the band, bassist Vince Hornsby, drummer Morgan Rose, guitarists John Connolly & Clint Lowery and of course, vocalist Lajon Witherspoon gifted us a powerhouse hour of hard rock. For years after, “Animosity” was one of my favorite rock records, for good reason.
This brings us to the present, to a world where not only is the pandemic kinda seeming like it’s ending, but also to a world where things and events are happening again. One of those things is a tour featuring a full performance of this great album I’ve been talking about. The band initially planned this event for last year, as it’s billed as a 20th anniversary tour, but for the several hundred people at the Oriental Theater last week, it didn’t matter.
As the band emerged onstage, with a banner of the “Animosity” album cover adorning the band wall, Sevendust exploded onto album opener “T.O.A.B.” with the same intensity that was present when the album first came out. I hadn’t seen the guys love since 2007, but you couldn’t tell any time had passed. Sure the band looked older, naturally, but the skill set among them is still extremely high and well refined.
During the first three songs, the crowd was all energy, repeatedly with enough sound to drown out the vocals of Witherspoon as he and his counterparts busted out “Praise,” and “Trust,” before settling down for the heartbreaking “Xmas Day,” with Lowery leading the first verse as the crowd again sang back. That’s the fortunate part of this type of tour, the crowd engagement is always higher when people love and know the words to the songs. It was very apparent that the crowded club loved this record, and we have the love back ten fold to the Georgia heavyweights.
During one of the song breaks, Lajon commented on how some of these songs hadn’t been played in nearly two decades. This led to the introduction of one of my favorite songs from the band, “Dead Set.” The song itself is an eye opening, made for an arena rock soaring chorus style anthem about the depths of drug addiction and how delicate life is. The song on record is amazing, but live it’s a different beast entirely.
As the night went on, memories from other shows began coming back to me, one of which is the reminder of how much this band seems to love playing together. For the last 20 years, when I’ve seen them, it’s been refreshing to see rock stars smiling, laughing, and even more subtlety singing the verses and chorus with Witherspoon as they bribed through a memorable set.
In the hard rock world the prevailing image is one of never backing down, showing weakness or vulnerability, and definitely never smiling. When you see how well Sevendust as a unit has done in their career, it’s hard not to smile along while listening to a classic album performed in its entirety. An absolute crushing show that made me realize how important certain albums at the right time can be. As the set wound down to its inevitable climax, the band belted out energetic versions of their classic “Angel’s Son,” followed by the cutting, charged “Crucified.” I’ve seen probably five to ten bands play full albums, and honestly, I can't think of a single one that I loved more than seeing “Animosity” in all its hard-boiled majesty. Truly a special night.
It’s hard to imagine the Foo Fighters being one the biggest rock bands of a generation. Taylor Hawkins didn't join the band during the Colour and the Shape tour. During the early stages of the Foo’s, Hawkins was elsewhere drumming for Alamo’s Morrisette, but that was fated to end as soon as Taylor clicked with Dave Grohl. The rest is history.
When I listened to the drums on these songs, the first thing that comes to mind is the elasticity of his drumming skill. There are songs like “Low,” off of “One by One” that just blow your head up with the rapid intensity created by Hawkins’, while other songs like “February Stars” or even “Next Year” where the intensity is relegated to the back in favor of something more rhymes in tune with the vibe of the song. That type of skill Is hard to appreciate if you aren’t invested heavily in music technique and style.
The point that I’m trying to mask is that while drummers are vitally Important to every band, Hawkins graduated to being the second rock star in the band, with an undeniable energy that even put his road warriors band mates to shame at times. To me, he was the consummate drummer, capable of making every bit of art he touched just a little better. In remembrance of Taylor Hawkins, and all the songs we love that he helped create, Rest In Peace, and drum the fuck out of the other worlds.
Every now and then a book comes along that changes everything for you. Even more often, a film is made of that book that while good, doesn’t really knock it out of the park in the way it should. That’s where “The Virgin Suicides” comes in. The film, while able to capture the spirit and essence of the brilliant Jeffrey Eugenides novel, falls short in a few ways. The score of the film, though, is an area where French musicians Air and filmmaker Sofia Coppola are able to note the gravitas and knock the idea of marrying music and imagery out of the park in a wonderful, yet tragic way. While I’ve read the book more than ten times, the film score also stands as my favorite score or soundtrack of all time. Today we add another great album to the “Albums Of My Life” series, with Air’s spacey and passionate score to “The Virgin Suicides.”
It’s rare that a score truly hits on narrative points discussed in the inspired work, yet even from early on, the lyrics do exactly that, albeit in a loosely narrative way. One of the best things about the novel is how quickly you’re dropped into a world you perfectly understand. Young people are curious people,and that curiosity plays roles in nearly everything in their lives. The score opens up with the jazz, horn infused gentle rumblings of “Playground Love,” If you’ve ever seen the film, or read the book, I can’t imagine you saying this soundtrack doesn’t fit perfectly in the world in which five boys end up falling for the tragic yet wondrous Lisbon sisters. So much detail is known about these girls, but somehow the lovelorn boys miss the true essence of them, and in the end, it’s much too late. They were doomed, and as it is said in both the novel and film, the boys will forever be trying to save them.
By track three, “Bathroom Girl,” the feeling of the time is prevalent, and the hazy quality of the film starts to show itself in audio form. One of the best things about the film is it’s ability to drift among the vibes of the world through snapshots of past and future experiences, but also makes you long for simpler times. You want for the summer where you’re so obsessed with the new girl that you throw yourself off of a roof while pining for her love, only to realize the girl who loved you may have in fact thrown herself onto a steel fence, exiting herself from Earth in a pivotal early scene.
That girl, Cecilia Lisbon, the youngest, most carefree of the bunch, starts the onslaught her sisters later finish in dramatic fashion, under the guise of wanderlust. II mention this because the fifth number of the score,”Dark Messages,” ties in thematically to the inner workings of how not only these five souls, but also their parents must have felt doing the time that changed everything. The track is ominous, and appropriately so, because the next song, “The Word ‘Hurricane” winds and bashes and causes destruction. The word Hurricane, as it’s used in a book, is used brilliantly in a couple of obvious but also very subtle ways.
The most prominent person in the film who isn’t a Lisbon daughter is Trip Fontaine, and by this time in the book, he’s fallen head over heels for Lux Lisbon, who is easily the most free and unhinged of the girls. But as you can imagine, it doesn’t end well. Back to the usage of hurricane in symbolic terms. and how it’s used to move the story along. Luz and Trip meet in the gym during a science video on hurricane’s, but what Trip doesn’t know, and very well may not understand for decades to come, is that while he was watching a video about hurricanes, he was meeting his own force of nature, in the form of the reckless Lisbon, the one and only Lux. The song plays well to this narrative element, and before we know it, the chaos has moved into an upbeat and dark passage titled “Dirty Trip.” It’s full of 70’s themed instrumentation, like something from a nightmare whose conclusion is uncertain. Finally though, we get to a little bit of softer feelings, as given to us in the musical theme to the whole score, “Highschool Lover.” Melodically it’s the same tone and instrumentation as the opening track “Playground Love,” but it’s more poignant, more open, and more importantly, it signals a turn of mood in the film that can’t be undone.
The songs on the second half of the score, while sometimes moving in a slower pace, are able to be more enlightening and engrossing, most of all in the way it plays to what’s happening in the film. Things go worse and worse for this family, and I like to think this score is the useless struggle of the five boys trying to save this woman, while also not understanding that they have no desire to be saved.
The twelfth song though, “Dead Bodies,” is an unusually upbeat song, and you can sense the dread coming from the speakers. Drums are flailing while bodies drop from existence, and still, you feel the times coursing through the music. This track not only symbolizes the death of the Lisbons as a whole, but it’s framed the death of innocence as well, as seen through the wanting eyes of five boys who wanted nothing more at the time than to save what was unsaveable. These girls, Cecilia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary, and Therese, were all flickering brief entities in the universe, and they knew it.They just neglected to inform anyone else of their status.
The last song brilliantly lays out the events of the book, and transports us one last time to this world where little is understood about the main characters, but you don’t need to, because it speaks to parts of us all. Some of the last words on the score, which will be presented at the end of this piece, explain to us the feelings of the situation after the fact, and the music compliments it in a perfect, but overwhelmingly sad reminder of life, and how it can be misunderstood, pushed aside, and forgotten.
"Everyone dated the demise of our neighborhood from the suicides of the Lisbon girls. People saw their clairvoyance in the wiped-out elms and harsh sunlight. Some thought the torture tearing the Lisbon girls pointed to a simple refusal to accept the world as it was handed down to them: So full of flaws. But the only thing we are certain of after all these years is the insufficiency of explanation.".
“From five they had become four, and they were all living in the dead, becoming shadows.”
If you love heavier, more direct music, and you happen to be from the Boston/ Salem Massachusetts area, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have heard of Salem’s own Converge. This band has been making noisy awe inspiring music for over twenty years now, and if you’ve heard their last few records, you know that they’re only getting better. Early on they were more brutal and quick natures, but with age had come a better understanding in the variety of heavy metal any band can use. With that, I give you the Top Ten songs by Converge, hardcore legends.
10 A SINGLE TEAR: A DUSK IN US
One of the stark differences between Converge and other heavier bands is the willingness to not be a tough guy capable of destroying the world in every song. Maturity is a huge part of aging, and Converge has done it spectacularly. The track itself speaks to the aspect of a “single tear” as a way to endure and not let the floodgates open. Bannon, the vocalist, also throws in some poignant heartfelt sections about the type of love that comes with holding your child for the first time.
9 JANE DOE: JANE DOE
Many consider “Jane Doe” to be the landmark metal record of the time, and it’s well within reason. The album as a whole is blistering and emotional, but it’s this song, which clocks in at over eleven minutes long that seals the deal in regards to the albums overall greatness. Jacob Bannon screams and tears through the track, but the real star here is the melody and scope the band manages to present. When Bannon belts “I Want Out,” you feel the intensity of the situation. Having said that, it’s not an easy thing to keep the in your face momentum, but Converge seems to do it without missing a beat.
8 AXE TO FALL: AXE TO FALL
“Axe to Fall” is an unrelenting track in an unrelenting world. There's no other place to start really. The song is unbridled in it’s appetites for destruction, but that’s how it goes in the world of Converge. The song comes in at a quick and you’ll miss it two minutes, but it’s so insane for it’s duration that even that length leaves you needing a breather. The drums are completely rabid here, but that’s not to disregard the other important musical moments. Few bands are as furious as Converge, and it’s a song like this that makes you aware of just how good the band is.
7 YOU FAIL ME: YOU FAIL ME
Number seven on our Top Ten Converge songs comes from what’s probably my second favorite album the band has ever done. This album was hailed upon its release, and it’s well deserved. The guitar parts here are brooding and dark, and the overall themes of the song pull you into a chaotic trance that follows you all day everyday. I love the way the background vocals simply poke out every so often, and how they move the song alone. Going back to the guitars though, the chord progression around the two minute mark is done superbly, and it’s pulled straight from a dark, midnight suspense thriller. When I hear “You Fail Me,” I can’t help but imagine a dark, smoky cabin in the woods, and the people there who have no idea that not only has trouble found them, but that it’s already too late.
6 ALL THE LOVE YOU LEAVE BEHIND: ALL THE LOVE WE LEAVE BEHIND
More or less, Converge seems to get better as they go. I’m not trying to say they might be the metal Radiohead, but how they build their craft, as well as the dynamic they seem to have with each other makes me think of the aforementioned British band. This song, off their most recent record, is a prime example of how far they’ve come. The gradual build of guitar, bass and drums is perfect, and quite simply, it’s a more mature and contemplative song than they may have been capable of years earlier. Ben Koller’s drums are as precise and rapid as drums can be in the genre, and the beat never leaves them. Bannon’s vocals also depict hopefulness in a world where it’s hard to find, but ultimately it’s too late. In this case, sadly the title of “All We Love We Leave Behind” is true.
5 HELL TO PAY: JANE DOE
This steady song takes the band places that they hadn’t ventured to before, but it’s an awesome song nonetheless. The lyrics are the main attraction for me on this one. It’s a cool, calm type of delivery that you don’t get too much in the genre, but maybe more bands need to take a cue from this Salem boys, because clearly they’ve been doing the right thing for a long time now. “Hell to Pay” is no exception. The bass part is highly original and really fuses the unnerving aspects of the song into one nice, albeit dark bow. There’s a reason this record is held with such high regard.
4 FIRST LIGHT/ LAST LIGHT
If “Jane Doe” is the band's masterpiece, then “You Fail Me” is the point in which it became clear that this band was going to keep evolving and challenging themselves and their listeners with brilliant music. The opening of “First Light” forebodes coming anger, but by the time “Last Light” echoes out in the world, it’s already too late to turn back. It’s a song full of positivity and light, and the lyrics drive that point home. Converge is able to go dark when it’s needed, but they’re also adept at giving light to hopeless situations and informing us that all is not lost, and that we need to “Keep breathing, Keep living, Keep searching, Keep pushing.”
3 DARK HORSE: AXE TO FALL
One of the best opening songs on any album, this track starts the album off in a perfectly driven way. The chants during the chorus, adding intensity to the ever growing stubbornness of the guitars and drums to never give up, really make the song one of their best songs period. The whole album has a sort of immediate response to it, but in the end it’s the number three song on my list of the Top Ten Converge songs that sets it going in the right direction. I mean, c’mon, that guitar part is face melting at it’s best, and Converge deserve all the recognition they get for truly pushing the boundaries of what metal should be.
2 CONCUBINE: JANE DOE
“Concubine,” which opens the seminal “Jane Doe” album not only delivers in its brutality, but it also brings us into the world of the unsuspecting “Jane Doe.” The song, at a brief one minute and nineteen seconds, explodes from the first seconds and doesn’t let up. Ballou’s guitars, Bannon’s vocals, and the overall anger of the song drive points home that sometimes get lost in modern metal, but like I said previously, Converge is one of the only bands doing things in the genre that are worthwhile. A Big part of that is the genius behind the severely revered record. It’s been probably ten years since this song was first introduced in my life, but as you can see, it’s still their best song to me without question, and “Concubine,” as well as the entirety of the “Jane Doe” record, really drives home the importance of the band. Thanks for reading.
1 THE DUSK IN US: THE DUSK IN US
As the band's sound has progressed, fans will notice a gradual change on how Bannon’s vocals elevate from only throaty growls and screams to more purposefully calm, softer vocals. My number one converge song, “The Dusk In Us,” is hauntingly powerful, with the instrumentation from Kurt Ballou and the rest of the band ever so slightly turning up the heat as the nearly 8 minute song cascades into the heavier, down tune thickness during the songs crescendo. This song is a master track on how to do elevated, simmering heavy music in an expert manner. Long live Converge. “The Dusk in Us' ' stands as a flashlight to the life you’re walking into, an a warning to never let your guard down.
So I've purposely not talked about nin too much because of my never ending love of this band. But today we’ll be adding another record to the “Albums of My Life” series with Nine Inch Nails massive breakthrough record, 1994’s “The Downward Spiral.” Enjoy!
The first thing you hear on this increasingly violent record is taken from the sci-fi cult movie “THX-1138” but from then on you're treated to aggressive industrial rock that didn’t really fit in with the current state of music at the time. The song is a perfect start for the story of a man meeting his end and falling out of control, and all the touches here only add to the already high level of tension that permeates all of “TDS.” This record tells the story of a man propelling to his demise, but it also propelled Reznor and company to the top of the pile during the early to mid 90’s, and even for a record that's now legally allowed to drink, you can still hear what made it such a promising, strong minded album.
Many of these songs have since become staples, and again it’s not surprising. “Piggy,” follows up “Mr. Self Destruct,” but it changes course in terms of style and intensity. Musically it’s slower in tempo, but the lyrics are just as dark as anything Reznor faces on the rest of the album. Frankly, I’ve never been a huge fan of the studio version, but as a piece of a narrative it fits in exceedingly well. Songs three to five though are where you really start the see the desperation and darkness surrounding our main narrator. “Heresy” has some of the most anti religious lyrics Reznor has ever put to tape, and after you’re done belting out “Your God is Dead, and No One cares,” you’re treated to what’s likely the most high energy, quickly intense track presented here. “March of the Pigs,” to this day, remains a rabid favorite among fans and it’s inclusion during shows has become the standard by which you measure the intensity of the crowd, and the band overall. It’s short, but even if it's under three minute in time, it more than gets the job done.
Track five though is easily among the band’s most well known songs, and when the desolate synth beat of “Closer,” honing in on the environment of the song, you know what’s about to happen. While I could easily go without listening to this song or hearing it live for a long time, the song itself was the major push the band needed to graduate to the grand arena rock band they became. It’s slimy, sleazy, masochistic, and boy did it piss off a ton of parents when it was spreading it’s vulgar lyrics all over our country. My Aunt absolutely hated the song, going so far as refusing to even have it playing in her car while my cousin and I were just loving it. The best part for me though is the heavy electronic breakdown that brings everything up in tempo but also signals the finale of the well orchestrated and mixed track.
From here on the album gets only more experimental. “Ruiner” is still way ahead of the game in terms of pulling off ideas that both sell the music and genius of the band, but also push along the concept of the record. By this point the main character is slipping, falling further away from sanity, and images are starting to appear in his brain where they shouldn’t be. Musically the track has one of the best, most triumphant instrumental sections on the whole record. When Reznor mumbles “How’d you get so big, how’d you get so strong,” he’s backed by an impressive thrust of anthemic guitar parts and electronic sections that to this day stand tall up against some of the best instrumentals the band has ever constructed.
From here though, things only get worse for the listener and the character presented. “The Becoming” signals the hard left turn that his life has taken, where multiple personalities are prevalent in the person’s head, while “Big Man with a Gun” is furious and very tongue in cheek in terms of displaying just how hopeless this man’s life is becoming. The last five songs on the record though all deliver eye opening, yet very starly contrasting themes and arrangements. “A Warm Place,” remains beautiful in it’s presentation, but offers little reprieve in the grand scheme of things, while “Eraser” is a slow burn of evil and desperation that gradually pays off on it’s way to the huge musical bomb that’s set off at the song’s conclusion. It perfectly builds tension in the world of the album, and when the drums, guitars and screaming take full hold, there’s really no good that could come of it.
As the record finishes though, “Reptile” stands up excellently when compared to it’s name. The track has a venomous, stalker-like vibe that resonates with the title, but the song works well simply because of the thought and precision used in managing it. It’s also the longest track of the record, which gives it ample time to worm and crawl it’s way to the conclusion you all see it coming, not only on the track itself but the album too. After making it through that though, the title track only adds fuel to the fire, and it’s epic slow build up purposely sets up the foregone conclusion everyone gets to when they think about the story of the record: The main character kills himself, or at the very least comes damn close.
Probably the best known track off “TDS” also happens to be the track that concludes the record. To this day “Hurt” remains a poignantly tormented song, with Reznor singing more clearly and vulnerable than he has throughout the record. The chorus also happens to be infectious, and very easy to sing along to embrace the pain this man is feeling. It’s a cathartic song on the record, but it’s also cathartic to the listener who has been put through a myriad of personal torment on their journey through this very good, but very deeply troubled record. Thanks for reading.
Doom, gloom, Australia. All of these things help to describe Nick Cave and the Bad seeds, but over nearly 49 years has taught the band to never get tired and routine. Below you’ll find what I feel is a pretty comprehensive list. The Bad Seeds have A LOT of material, so sadly not all could be represented, but regardless.
Follow us for more content at @thedeathofthemixtape on instagram, facebook and Spotify. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy
10 BRIGHT HORSES: GHOSTTEEN
During this most recent period the band, Cave has been delving into even more introspective pain than before. The cause, or push of emotions all started with the death of Cave's son in a hiking accident. The somberness of this track, not to mention the other records made during this mournful period, bites at the listener, and fills said listener with a deep pain that only Cave's deep, sullen voice is capable of fixing. It’s a haunting sound you don’t quickly forget, yet it moves you to the core.
9 ABATTOIR BLUES: ABATTOIR BLUES/ THE LYRE OF ORPHEUS
Most of the work of the bad seeds is steeped in a certain sadness which makes it easier to relate to. Songs like “Abattoir Blues,” off the 13th record from Cave and his Bad seeds, fit in with the future of Cave as well as his past. The musicianship in the band is at the height of their musical intelligence. And it shows. The drumming, along with the whispered manner of the lyrics and the feminine backing vocals all make the song a necessary inclusion on this list.
8 PUSH THE SKY AWAY: PUSH THE SKY AWAY
Like a lifeline ending amid a sea of emotions, “Push the Sky Away” has an innate ability to make you feel all the weight of the world as Cave implores you to keep going. The track is rough and awakening at the same time, with the rare drum thump nesting in the background of an ominous keyboard section that makes me feel like I’m walking to the light at the end of the tunnel. It also features some of my favorite vocal deliveries in Cave's whole discography. The man truly is a master of adult contemporary, eye opening emotional music.
7 FROM HER TO ETERNITY: FROM HER TO ETERNITY
From my initial hearing of this song, it always played to me like a piano puzzle, with Cave racing through a mysterious, thin walled maze as he looks to go “From Her to Eternity.” The intensity of the piano and the slow burning build of the accompanying instruments make the tension even more engaging and palpable. It’s an early sign of Cave and the Bad seeds brilliance, and it finds the countdown at number 7
6 HIGGS BOSON BLUES: PUSH THE SKY AWAY
The rhythm on this slow but meaningful song stands in firm contrast to the lyrics that we’re created on the spot. At seven minutes, “Higgs Boson Blues,” is a slow winding late night dive bar kind of track. It’s easy to imagine the rusted out drunks in a dark bar after midnight with this song humming softly over the speakers. Cave often times is more deliberate and less loose lyrically than he is here, but it adds a new exciting side to the already great work of Cave and the Bad seeds.
5 I LET LOVE IN: LET LOVE IN
The opening paints in the listeners head a serene country valley, with regret and beauty as the sun cascades across the peaks and plains of the valley. “I let Love In” has a quality that’s both heartwarming and bitterly cold, as the wind of the world comes for its battle as the song progresses. To me it fits in brilliantly with most classic western movies, which makes it stand out even more when you think of it’s place in contemporary music.
4 JESUS ALONE: SKELETON TREE
Easily the most haunting song on this list, Cae and his bad seeds yet again manage to sound distinct not only among their contemporaries but also compared to the other records the band has produced in their long storied career. It’s a eerily slow song with minimal production backing it, but it’s in those moments that Cave shines. Perfect for a person lost in the wilderness surrounded by fog, “Jesus Alone” starts the record on a super somber note filled with death, and those feeling persist through the rest of the album.
3 DIG, LAZARUS, DIG!!!: DIG, LAZARUS DIG!!!
You can try, but I Donny you find another song as upbeat as this one on this list. “Dig!” Has always spoke to me as a rambling, stream of consciousness illusion of what the after life might be. Caves vocals are sarcastic, more rushed than typical, but that makes a perfect pairing with the quick nature of the instrumentations. I still laugh at the song, the dirty language that’s well hidden during the track, and of course the imagery of “Larry” who never actually asks to be resurrected.
2 THERE IS A KINGDOM: THE BOATMAN'S CALL
I’m gonna just throw myself under the bus and say that for years, for some reason I kept remembering this as a Leonard Cohen track. It definitely isn’t, but I’m hopeful you readers can understand why. Anyway, the song is monumental in its powerful Imagery, with a much more awakened idea of the afterlife and the powers that be than we typically hear from the Bad Seeds. The piano section at the song's onset is soft and elegant, and while the song never really explodes in its energy, it doesn’t have to because the message is just as strong on its own.
1 RED RIGHT HAND: LET LOVE IN
This classic, likely the band's best known song, has appeared in the Scream films also the way, but the song speaks a much more sinister tone than its usage in the movies leads you to believe. It’s a rustic nightmare of a country western, with the man with the “Red Right Hand” coming across like a classic villain in a Stephen King novel. In fact, the term “Red Right Hand” was a nod to Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” which to some is scarier than a King Novel. A lot of the music of the Bad seeds has a forbidding counter western wine to it, and the inclusion of the Theremin during the songs second half add an even more mysterious, dark tinge to the track. For those reasons, “Red Right Hand” stands at the number one song from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
When I was younger, I rarely if ever gave thought to what my favorite artists were like behind closed doors. In short, it was easier for me to separate and ultimately to not care. Those times are done.
As I grew older, I started caring about the perceptions and reality that sits outside of the entertainment industry. I feel like this is a natural response to maturity. Of course at a young age I marveled at the careless cool behavior of rock stars and their various outrageous antics, but at some point, even rock stars need to stop acting like gods and children. This brings me to today's topic, judging artists for their private lives and human shortcomings.
For me, it all starts with one person, Michael Jackson. When I was young, I’m talking like age 3-10, I was obsessed with the “King of Pop.” The music was insanely catchy, mesmerizing in terms of production, and in a word, legendary. For fuck sakes there was nothing Jackson couldn’t do in the 80’s and 90’s, until at least shit started to fall apart.
The news of Jackson’s possible, extremely bad interactions with children became a focal point of his past and a troublesome part of his still massive fame. For years I was sure it was untrue, and that he was simply weird and eccentric, but the more I thought, and the more I read, the more unsure I was of his private behaviors.
Even up until 2014 or so, I was still listening to Jackson’s music, and loving it, in spite of what I had heard. These days, I can’t seem to split my feelings enough to still enjoy an artist that was once massively important to me as a person.
For me, there’s certain things I can overlook. For instance, Metallica has more than a few times done their fan base incredibly dirty and they certainly take advantage of their massive fan base, but is that worth not engaging in any way with the band? In my case the answer is no, it’s still worth it, and even though some of their older songs and some recent (in the last several years) statements by James Hetfield leads me to wonder how far off the trail he’s gone in terms of politics, sedition and other warnings for democracy. But until something more concrete crosses my path, Metallica is still one of the best metal bands of all time.
That point brings us back around to how you measure artists with sketchy backgrounds. Even though there are plenty of curious events surrounding the Jackson allegations (many articles have been written about the parents of the suspected abused and their history of blackmail and of course, lack of any real proof) but at what point do you draw a line in the sand and say, I can’t tolerate this?
In the case of Jackson and the sordid allegations, there’s much to be proven or confirmed (we’ll likely never know for sure) while for other artists, there’s substantial proof of their wrong doings.
Case in point, Kanye West and Marilyn Manson. Manson, aka Brian Warner, has since the 90’s dabbled in the kind of shock rock antics that made him a household name in the rock and metal world, all the while skirting the line between acceptable and off limits. At an early age (17-21) I was a die hard Manson fan. His albums during that time were blisteringly explosive, with more angst and venom hurled at the world than the likes of MTV could appropriately handle.
When news broke last year of the horribly abusive lifestyle Manson maintained and doled out to his various alleged victims, suddenly everything that seemed off about the man named Warner made sense. Yes he had been skirting the line between controversial on stage antics in the name of rock n roll, but if the reports are to be believed ( nearly all of them seem likely and the amount of similar things in the multiple victims statements lead me to believe the allegations are true) Warner never gave up that rock n roll lifestyle when he wasn’t entertaining. Instead, he seemed to live in the world of Marilyn Manson, behaving as though lines and limits didn’t exist, and essentially torturing more than a few innocent women along the way. After I read those allegations and articles, I never listened to another Manson song, and I never plan to.
On the other hand, you have a person who, though never accused of rape, kidnapping and other things associated with Manson and Jackson’s private life, but who nonetheless is a legitimately bad person. You know him as Kanye West, but for the last five years or so, West has consistently shown the public a few very important things. One, that you can be a brilliant artist while not being a good person. Two, he’s a person capable of making the ultra up their own ass, self -importance of Kim Kardashian seems somehow normal and in need of support, when in fact she’s neither. She’s still the same horrible human being we’ve always known, but it’s to be applauded at how “normal” she seems when compared to the behaviors of her ex-husband.
West at this point is making the downfall of Sly Stone look tame, which is hilarious when you think about it. It’s also really sad. I don’t even consider myself a fan anymore. It’s just not worth the effort, and he hasn’t had a brilliant album in nearly a decade. To me that’s more important. As long as he was making good thought provoking music I could justify the darker sides. But with that essentially gone and this new, abusive husband Kanye seemingly staying out, who fucking cares. The guy is a joke, and mental illness or not, we deserve to not have Kanye around to deal with.
And lastly, well, just look at the types of behaviors and things he’s said. He’s a known agitator and resistor of democracy, he’s racist to his own race, openly supports abusers, rapists, racists and even will go to bat for a guy we all watched stand there making jokes as attendees of his own festival are literally crushed to death. I’m referencing Travis Scott if you were unsure.
The point is, making art doesn’t make you a good person, and being a bad person doesn’t instantly mean your art is unimportant. It does however mean that we can pick and choose our level of comfort when engaging with artists you don’t like as people. Be careful, but enjoy as best you can.
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
Are you looking for the old Wordpress blog posts?