Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Since its formation in Melbourne in 1983, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds has remained a critical darling and a favorite of discerning listeners with a penchant for the theatrical and offbeat. Too idiosyncratic to fully cross over into the mainstream and utterly ignored by the Grammys, the band has been acclaimed for releasing consistently high-quality albums that blend post-punk nerviness with elements of alternative rock (in its original 1980s sense) and dense, mysterious storytelling befitting the world of singer-songwriters. Nick Cave formed the Bad Seeds after the demise of his previous band, the Birthday Party. As the frontman, creative mastermind, and the subject of much of the band’s artwork, Cave’s sense of dark humor and brooding intensity generally define the Bad Seeds’ sound and temperament. As their career went on, elements of gothic rock, blues, and electronic music have crept in, adding further weight and scope to the band’s sonic palette. With the release of From Her to Eternity in 1984, Cave infused his music with a smoky darkness that was absent from the Birthday Party, and set the tone for his new band’s direction. Cave continued to solidify his approach and sound throughout the ‘80s, with members regularly coming and going, save for drummer Thomas Wydler, who joined in 1985 -- when the band relocated to West Berlin -- and remained a permanent fixture. The band appeared in Wim Wenders’ lauded 1987 Berlin-set film Wings of Desire, performing in a nightclub with Wenders specifically using Cave’s lyrics to underscore the story. The band’s acclaim only increased in the ‘90s, particularly in 1994 with the release of its eighth album, Let Love In, which distilled the Bad Seeds’ sound to its essence and earned the band a slot on the zeitgeist-capturing Lollapalooza tour in the United States. The album also marked Cave’s first collaboration with Warren Ellis, who would go on to become a full member in 1997 and Cave’s primary musical partner in both Bad Seeds and outside work in the following decades. The eerie, otherworldly atmosphere of Cave’s music lent itself well to soundtracks, as the song “Red Right Hand” from Let Love In was used throughout the teen slasher film series Scream and as the theme song to the early twentieth century urban drama series Peaky Blinders, a nod to the simultaneously timeless and anachronistic nature of Cave’s sound. The band also welcomed guest vocalists over the years, including Shane MacGowan, PJ Harvey, and fellow Aussie Kylie Minogue. Cave and Ellis took a detour from the Bad Seeds in 2006 when the two formed Grinderman, which flashed back to the louder, more aggressive sound of the Birthday Party. After two albums, Grinderman was put on hiatus when the Bad Seeds machine fired back up for 2013’s Push the Sky Away. The Bad Seeds’ 2016 album, Skeleton Tree, was created while Cave was mourning the death of his son following an outdoor accident. The record earned praise as an unsparing document of grief, and the haunting double-album Ghosteen followed in 2019.

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Stations Featuring Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

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