Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, who both play in the Bad Seeds and Grinderman, score a lot of films together. Their latest endeavor is Hell or High Water, a David Mackenzie-directed film starring Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine. CBS Films will release the movie in theaters August 12, which is the same day the soundtrack comes out via Milan Records. It features several pieces of score from Cave and Ellis, plus songs by Waylon Jennings, Townes Van Zandt, Chris Stapleton, and others.
It's been nearly five years since Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds issued the manic, intense rock cabaret that was Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! Since then, the formation and breakup of Grinderman yielded two studio offerings, and Cave and Warren Ellis have composed a few film scores. Push the Sky Away, produced by Nick Launay, is painted with a deliberately limited sonic palette by Ellis. The album's sequencing makes it feel like a long, moody suite. While most of these songs contain simple melodies and arrangements that offer the appearance of vulnerability and tenderness, it is inside this framework that they eventually reveal their sharp fangs and malcontent.
When Grinderman released their debut in 2007, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Jim Sclavunos, and Martyn Casey created a reckless, drunken animal of an alter ego to the Bad Seeds. The album bridged territory mined by everyone from the Stooges to Suicide to Bo Diddley. Again recorded in the company of producer Nick Launay, Grinderman 2 is a more polished and studied affair than its predecessor, but it's a more sonically adventurous, white-hot rock & roll record. The opening, "Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man," comes closest to the songs on the previous album, but feels like it comes by way of Patti Smith's "Radio Ethiopia," Howlin' Wolf, and the Scientists. It's pure scummy, sleazy, in-the-red dissonant rock. The swampy, ribald blues of "Kitchenette," features Casey's bass roiling around distorted, Echoplexed electric guitar, electric bouzouki, and jungle-like tom-toms and kick drums. Cave does his best lecher-in-heat blues howl – if Charles Bukowski had sung the blues, this is what it would have sounded like.
Apparently, the Bad Seeds side project Grinderman injected some serious adrenaline into the equation, evidenced mightily on Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! This is the 14th album by Nick Cave and company. After the masterpiece that was Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus in 2004, Cave and Warren Ellis scored a pair of films – The Proposition and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and recorded the self-titled Grinderman album with other bandmembers Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos. Grinderman was a howling, raucous, rock & roll racket of a set that sweat humorous garage rock blues and raw shambolic guttersnipe stroll that spread its nasty cheer to the listener. The return of the full-on Bad Seeds octet builds on this energy and emerges with an album that is at once snarling, darkly humorous, decadently sexual, and, if you are a religious Christian person, seemingly blasphemous. An obvious example is the title track that opens the album. As always, Cave's lyrics are at the center. They are the focus whether he wants them to be or not, and they certainly are here.