Formed after the breakup of the Birthday Party in 1983, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds became one of the most original and celebrated bands of the post-punk and alternative rock eras in the '80s and onward. Playing music that meshed with the dark, multi-layered narratives of Cave's lyrics, the Bad Seeds created sounds that were physically and emotionally powerful, but with a sense of dynamics and drama that set them apart from their peers. The Bad Seeds' sound evolved steadily over the years along with the lyrical outlook of their leader, from the Birthday Party-influenced chaos of 1984's From Her to Eternity and the blues-flavored minimalism of 1985's The Firstborn Is Dead, through the eloquent, gothic post-punk of 1988's Tender Prey and 1994's Let Love In to the relative warmth and humanity of 1997's The Boatman's Call, the tragic beauty of 2001's No More Shall We Part, and the spare but emotionally overpowering soundscapes of 2016's Skeleton Tree and 2019's Ghosteen. While plenty of musicians would move in and out of the Bad Seeds' lineup over the years, throughout their history they were always a musical force as powerful as their leader.
When the Bad Seeds regrouped to record 2013's Push the Sky Away, the ensemble featured Cave, Casey, Ellis, Savage, Sclavunos, and Wydler. As the band set out on tour in support, Wydler was sidelined by illness, and for the first leg of live dates, Barry Adamson returned to the group, as did Ed Kuepper. By the time the tour had reached the United States, Kuepper was out, and George Vjestica stepped in on guitar. A stripped-down version of the Bad Seeds, minus Savage and Vjestica, recorded a performance for radio broadcast that was later released as 2014's Live from KCRW. In September 2016, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds returned with a new album, Skeleton Tree, which marked the return of Thomas Wydler to the band, joined by Casey, Ellis, Sclavunos, and Vjestica. The same lineup regrouped for the sessions that produced 2019's Ghosteen, one of the band's most subdued efforts and a powerful meditation on the bonds of family and the pain of loss. ~ Mark Deming