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REVIEW: PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (2011 Universal-Island Records Ltd)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Let-England-Shake/dp/B004KEOQJ8/ref=dm_cd_album_lnkI guess you guys already know PJ Harvey, but I only just listened to her for the first time with her most recent album, Let England Shake. I was browsing the earliest reviews of Radiohead’s newest offering, a couple of weeks back, and one user comment on Metacritic said something like, “This is crap, like every other recent release by Radiohead, just electronic experimental bollocks. If you liked what they used to do when they were good, check out PJ Harvey’s new album.” Although I disagreed that Radiohead has gone downhill since the days of OK Computer and The Bends, I thought I’d listen to his suggestion anyway.

And I’m glad I did. This is a great album with easy comparisons to Laura Marling, Cat Power or Taken By Trees. But I guess these women were probably, at least to an extent, influenced by her earlier work. I don’t know though. As I said I’d never listened to her before and I haven’t yet delved into her back catalogue except in reading about her work with Thom Yorke and Nick Cave. So, I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into some of that soon. For the moment though, I’ll just enjoy listening to this with my naive ears, which is nice.

PJ Harvey – The Words That Maketh Murder

Also, if you like this, then maybe check this out: papercranes – Let’s Make Babies In The Woods. It’s pretty good too.

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Features

The Gin and Tonic Youth! – New Times (and some thoughts)

I found this album (The Gin and Tonic Youth! – New Times) the other day and it got me thinking: why do I know far more Swedish bands than Norwegian ones? The Gin and Tonic Youth! are a Norwegian band and join Röyksopp, Casiokids and A-Ha on my list of good Norsk bands. I’m half Norwegian and my natural dislike for Swedes makes me upset that I can think of a far greater number of Swedish bands – The Concretes, Radio Dept, Jose Gonzalez, The Tallest Man on Earth, The Hives, Ace of Base to name but a few.

Can anyone tell me any good Norwegian bands? And I don’t want metal bands like Turbonegro. I know about them; my cousin’s into them and I’m not. Or if you don’t want to help me, just check out the album I started off by mentioning. And check out this vid:

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Reviews

REVIEW: The Concretes – WYWH (Something In Construction 2010)

I first listened to The Concretes last year, as I worked backwards from their former singer, Victoria Bergsman, and her solo album East Of Eden, to their eponymous debut from 2004. Just as I had loved her album, I loved their work together as a group, but for very different reasons. The Concretes was a jangly pop mix of horns, strings and a sickly sweetness complemented by the accented, carefree, slightly odd vocal of Bergsman. Basically it was just really nice – and I don’t mean this as a put-down at all. It was like a musical equivalent of watching a decent feel-good film like Juno or Little Miss Sunshine or something. It was a cheerful listen that was surprising in how enjoyable it was.

Since then much has been made of Bergsman’s departure back in 2007 and the effect of that on their album of that year, Hey Trouble. Many people seem to think that the band is still struggling to work out what they’re doing without her, but this seems absurd to me. They replaced Bergsman immediately with then drummer, Lisa Milberg, who has a voice not dissimilar from her predecessor’s and except for this change the line-up has stayed largely the same. So, surely this shouldn’t have made too big an impact? Obviously I don’t know exactly what role Victoria had in the band and maybe she did tell them what they all had to do at all times so that without her they fell apart, but for whatever reason they have taken a different direction.

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Reviews

REVIEW: Bob Dylan – The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (The Bootleg Series Vol. 9)

I want to admit from the start that I am a big Dylan fan and that he is one of my favourite artists of all time. I was already a devotee when I first got Spotify, but my love for him grew as I was able to listen to any and all of his huge back catalogue and wasn’t restricted to the 7 or so albums I already owned. Then a terrible thing happened. He disappeared from Spotify. Possibly never to return.

This has led to my developing hatred of Bob. I still love the music, but the man seems ridiculous and irritating. I don’t understand why he removed his music from Spotify and other similar services. How much is he worth? Does he really fear reduced album sales, as a result of music streaming, and therefore a reduced income? Apparently he doesn’t like big screens at the sides of the stage at gigs because of the opportunity it gives people to record his concerts, which presumably would stop them buying DVDs or possibly even stop them from going to the concerts. Finally there is this Bootleg Series, which seems like a way to sell more albums without any more work. Maybe I’m a cynic.

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Reviews

REVIEW: Baba Brinkman – Rap Guide to Human Nature (Independent 2010)

Baba Brinkman is a former tree planter from Vancouver who managed, personally, to sow over 1 million seedlings by the age of 24. He also has a Masters in Medieval and Renaissance English Literature. And he’s recently released his Rap Guide to Human Nature; a guide to many of the current theories of evolutionary psychology. This brief description wouldn’t necessarily make you think that this should be an album worth a listen, but it is. I should point out that this is his seventh solo album and that he started in hip-hop after writing his thesis comparing Chaucer’s storytelling with modern day rap freestyling. After the success of his theatre show, “The Rap Canterbury Tales”, Baba was approached by a microbiologist from the University of Birmingham and asked to “do for Darwin what he did for Chaucer”. This led to the Rap Guide to Evolution and it seems that he has wanted to stick with science.