Archive for February, 2011

Don’t Believe A Word You’ve Read About PJ Harvey’s “Let England Shake”

Posted in Music with tags , , on February 27, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Depending on whether or not you’re a purist when it comes to considering which is the beginning and which the end of a given decade, PJ Harvey’s Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, released late in 2000, was either the first great album of the ‘aughts, or the last great album of the ’90s.  The same folk who can tell you precisely which decade owns the rights would also probably tell you that Stories From The City isn’t Harvey’s greatest album.  They would be wrong. Yes, Dry bowled us over, and in a near 20-year career there have been other high points, but Stories From The City was a perfect album, and there aren’t many of them.  Stories From The City was one of the greatest New York punk albums of all time, which is pretty cool considering Harvey was born and bred in rural England.

Since then, though, we’ve been disappointed. Uh Huh Her had some magic, but was a step down, and Harvey’s collaboration two years ago with John Parish had one delightful song, “Black Hearted Love,” but even by the standards of her off-albums a single winner constituted a low point.

So when Sasha Frere-Jones — who aside from being a gorgeous writer, generally writes only about music he likes — yawningly put down Let England Shake as pretty much a bore, we accepted that.  But of course still listened.  You have to listen to an artist like PJ Harvey — there is no oversupply of such artists, and you have to follow the great ones into the bushes to at least see what they’re up to.

And when we listened, we were moved to declare, Wrongo, Sasha!  No, there’s not a lot of guitar bashing, and there’s nothing to get the blood moving  like “Sheela Na Gig” or even “The Whores Hustle and The Hustlers Whore,” and yet this odd album, Albion-historical in nature, but still possessing a back beat, is actually filled with quiet greatness.  It doesn’t quite rock, but it is both melodic and dynamic.  In fact, it reminds us quite a bit of Stories Of The City. Go listen to “In The Dark Places,” which could easily fit onto her opus of 11 years ago.  In fact, listen to the whole damn thing.  Odd and lovely, which only partly defines Polly Jean herself, Let England Shake deserves an audience as great as the artist who made it.

Our Buenos Aires Correspondent Sends A Rose

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 27, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Leica D-Lux 4.  Nice respite from the long winter.  Nice image from a very well-trained photographer.

Capsula’s “Hit’N’Miss” Heralds New Album On 3/11

Posted in Music with tags , , on February 12, 2011 by johnbuckley100

In The Land Of The Silver Souls by Capsula, unquestionably The Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band In The World* circa 2011, drops on 3/11/11. Plus, they’re playing at SXSW.  Pack your bags…

*Don’t believe me?  Want a taste? Download the song here, for free.

North Mississippi Allstars In Championship Form

Posted in Music with tags , , , on February 6, 2011 by johnbuckley100

If you think of the North Mississippi Allstars as just a blues power trio, or as folks fishing the same pond as, at some times, Southern Culture on the Skids and, occasionally, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, you will in no way be prepared for their magnificent new Keys To The Kingdom. The Dickinsons pay homage to their late dad Jim, whose piano lightened the Stones’ “Wild Horses,” and whose production of Big Star introduced a uniquely off-kilter sound to the world (Wilco said thank you with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), and they do so in a manner wholly fitting the old man’s legacy.  This is not contemporary blues rock — you wouldn’t expect to hear this on Alligator Records — more like a time capsule recording a tryst between Exile on Main Street and Ry Cooder’s Into The Purple Valley. This may be an unfair comparison, but for those who’ve listened to each of the 60 albums released by the Drive By Truckers — another band of offspring from famed Muscle Shoals musicians — and wondered if they’d ever do something that sounds, you know, different, well, Keys To The Kingdom is an affirmation of growth, and a minor rebuke to the NoMi AllStars’ closest competition.  The year is young, and we’ve barely thrown a worm out there, and already we’ve landed a keeper.

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