Music reviews: Nick Cave/Warren Ellis, Snoop Dogg, David Duchovny
First there was the blunt-burning, gin’n’juice-quaffing Snoop Doggy Dogg. That was 1993. Since then we have been treated to numerous guises of Calvin Broadus Jnr, the former pimp who began his rap career on a murder charge, including DJ Snoopadelic, Bigg Snoop Dogg, Snoop Lion and Snoopzilla.
Whatever name he has chosen, the rapper’s got a lot done in the past 22 years, considering how much cannabis he smokes. For his 13th album, Bush, Snoop throws a 1970s G-funk party with producer du jour Pharrell Williams, and like his laidback rhyming, he’s taking it pretty damn easy. So easy in fact, that fans of his smooth gangsta drawl are going to be disappointed, because Bush is all about the R&B.
Lyrically it focuses mostly on Snoop’s favourite things, sex and weed (hence the album title), but with Williams’ bold disco influence and far too little of Snoop emceeing (it’s a record of mainly guest singing), it could quite as easily have been released as a Neptunes record. This is Pharrell’s groove and Snoop is more than happy to dance to his beat.
Snoop Dogg Bush (Doggystyle Records)
Nick Cave and fellow Bad Seed Warren Ellis took a break from their gothic blues nine-to-five to compose and record the film score to French movie Loin Des Hommes ( Far From Men), an adaptation of Albert Camus' short story The Guest.
Directed by David Oelhoffen, this ambitious film deals with the tension, isolation and violence suffered during Algeria's war of independence, to which Cave and virtuoso fiddler Ellis add their music's hauntingly minimalistic beauty. It's not the first movie project the two talented Australians have worked together on: they first collaborated in 2005 on John Hillcoat's The Proposition (to which Cave also penned the script).
The primarily instrumental score is bereft of Cave's typical piano play. Here, the keys create dark, droning electronic landscapes as loops of Ellis' weeping violin loom over the land with a sense of dread and yearning. As the piano and string melodies intertwine, the sporadic bursts of flute, mandolin and percussion add dabs of colour to the stark and mesmeric vistas. Hardly background music for doing the dishes, but beautiful all the same.
Nick Cave/Warren Ellis Loin Des Hommes Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Hostess KK)
Following hot on the heels of his bestselling debut novel, Holy Cow, US actor David Duchovny joins the list of film and television stars who become musicians with the release of his first album, Hell or Highwater.
But unlike, say, Bruce Willis, Russell Crowe and the A-Team's Mr T, Duchovny, who will soon be reprising his role as FBI Agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files, has written a far-from-embarrassing 12 tracks of melodic Americana. It's an accomplished achievement for the Golden Globe winner and "lifelong rock'n'roll fan" who, inspired by his children, learnt to play the guitar only a few years ago.
Backed by Brooklyn-based indie band Weather, who flesh out the actor's romantic poetry and rudimentary folk-rock strumming, Duchovny's husky vocals and hook-driven melodies flit humbly somewhere between Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. While it's obvious Duchovny has yet to find his true musical identity, his rootsy heartbreak rock comes from a place of sincerity and it's all credit to him that he manages to hold his head high above the water.
David Duchovny Hell or Highwater (ThinkSay Records)