“Waiting” by Man Fighting Bear (2015)

Man Fighting Bear is a hard band to categorize.  In many of the songs on their 2015 album “Waiting,” you hear the influence of artists as diverse as Joy Division, Deep Purple, Brian Eno, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, King Crimson, the Rotary Connection and Leonard Cohen, sometimes within the same song.  But the one band that comes to mind the most when I hear “Waiting” is the Velvet Underground, especially the legendary post-John Cale concerts they recorded at the Matrix in San Francisco that eventually were released as the classic “1969 Velvet Underground Live” album in 1974.

“Waiting” is one of those wonderfully cool albums where you can never tell where the band is going to go next.  For example, the song “Into the Light” starts off as a beautiful Leonard Cohen-inspired hymn and then, approximately 2-minutes in, a wonderfully dirty-sounding organ kicks the church door open like a drunken interloper, though its inclusion is actually more seamless and organic than the opening shock would indicate.   And this is why the Velvets come to mind: Man Fighting Bear blend the sacred with the profane brilliantly to produce a complex sound full of sonic surprises.

Another standout track is “Jupiter” which starts out sounding like a loose, funky Booker T. and the MG homage and then segues into a wonderfully transcendent organ driven-jam that sounds like, yes you guessed it, the climax of the Velvet’s amazing “What Goes On” and “Ocean”  from the “1969 Velvet Underground Live” album.

“Breathe” sounds like Brian Eno producing a Nick Cave cover of a Joy Division song, which is musical heaven by any stretch of my imagination:

If you want to hear the rest of the album, please check it out at the link below and more importantly, if you dig what you hear, you are strongly encouraged to purchase this from iTunes or Amazon.

http://www.manfightingbear.com/#!music/c1mkb

This is a stand-out album that is eccentric in the best sense of the word.  It’s music like this that inspired me to start not only my blog, but Dave’s Strange Radio.  Many kudos to Bill Beach, Chris Beach, and Erik Fagrelius for one of my favorite albums of this year.

Advertisements

“Goodbye to Love” (1972) by the Carpenters

On the surface, the Carpenters epitomize the nadir of middle-of-the-road 1970s AM pop. But “Goodbye to Love” is a great song.  Granted, a lot of my love for this song has to due with the very prominent fuzz guitar by Tony Peluso.   But that guitar sound adds a tremendous edge to the lyrics which rival Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave in their immense pessimism and depression.   Seriously, this is one hell of a great downer song.  Had this been sung by Cohen or Cave, this would be considered more of a classic than it is.   Because it’s sung by Karen Carpenter, it’s considered AM-radio cheese.  However, I would argue that her beautiful voice makes this song even more perverse.  Either way, I love this.

“Watching Alice” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Video

“The Mercy Seat” is the song that gets all the attention from Cave’s classic 1988 album “Tender Prey.” While “Seat” is a stunner, “Watching Alice” should be equally acclaimed. It’s quiet and melancholy in comparison to the intense “The Mercy Seat,” but no less disturbing. The lyrics relate to a man watching a female get dressed year after year “in her palace” where he believes she is held captive. It’s clear she has no idea he’s watching her and he keeps saying “It’s so depressing, it’s cruel.” Cave really inhabits this sad, pathetic creature quite well. The song shares DNA with Van Morrison’s “Cyrpus Avenue” and Randy Newman’s “Suzanne,” two other classic stalker ballads.

“The Mercy Seat” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds / Johnny Cash

Video

 

The title track from Cave’s amazing 1988 album “The Mercy Seat.”  The term “mercy seat” does have religious connotations, for which I’ll consult Wikipedia for a more literate translation than I could ever muster:

According to the Bible, the cover or mercy seat (Hebrew: כפורת, Kapporet ; “atonement piece”) was an object which rested upon the Ark of the Covenant, and was connected with the rituals of the Day of Atonement; the term also appears in later Jewish sources, and twice in the New Testament, from where it has significance in Christian Theology.

The English phrase mercy seat is not a literal translation of the Hebrew term kapporeth, which appears in its place in the Masoretic text, nor of the Greek term hilasterion, which takes the same place in the Septuagint but instead is the translation by William Tyndale influenced by the German term Gnadenstuhl, from the same narrative position in the Luther Bible; Gnadenstuhl literally means seat of grace, in the sense of location of grace.

Despite this meaning, the song is sung from the perspective of an inmate on death row who is facing imminent execution in what I imagine is an electric chair.  Cave’s version is unremitting in its intensity.  However, Cash’s quieter, but still fierce cover from 2000 is damn good.  Both versions will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.