Music review Tuesday: John Cale gets the last laugh and Dark Dark Dark tests its boundaries

Shifty_Adventures_in_Nookie_Wood_album_cover_artJohn Cale

Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood

(Double Six Records)

On his first studio album since 2005’s blackAcetate, former Velvet Underground member Cale crafts perhaps the most inviting avant-garde record listeners will hear all year. The opener “I Wanna Talk 2 U” is the result of a spontaneous session between Cale and Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) with a solid acoustic strum providing the foundation amidst numerous electronic effects. “Face To The Sky” features the sound of fists being banged on piano keys and dissonant passages that slowly merge to construct mystifying walls of noise. And “Nookie Wood” is a strutting invitation that beckons listeners with a gratifying yet ominous groove. The track could also be a joke. One gets the impression that even Cale himself giggles at the juxtaposition of the words nookie and wood. But at 70 years old, Cale is the one getting the last laugh. He’s still breaking new ground, and doesn’t show signs of stopping.

Watch the video for the song “Face the Sky” from John Cale’s “Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood” here:

Dark Dark Dark

Who Needs Who?

(Supply and Demand Music)

The third album from this Minnesota quintet is two things – the sound of a band at home within itself and an adventure for a group pushing at its own boundaries. For proof, see the opening title track. For over two-and-a-half minutes the cut is a piano-driven ballad featuring light horns for accentuation. Then, a shift occurs and the song transforms with accordion and a whole new time signature before reverting to its original state only a minute later. It’s no simple trick, but it’s also indicative of a group of musicians testing the seams around their own chamber folk/ pop genre. Still, the real mission statement may be “Meet In The Dark.” Vocalist Nona Invie, sings the title phrase like a mantra and it very well might be. “You want everything to stay the same, and then things change,” she sings. “But I’ll never get tired of singing these songs.”

Watch the official video for the song “Tell Me” from Dark Dark Dark’s album “Who Needs Who?” here:

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