The fourth and probaby final single from Let England Shake is the title track itself. Normally I only do one video vault per week but the Punch and Judy segment in this track is comedy gold.
PJ Harvey’s latest album see’s the lady whom never sits still veer off into new audio territory with “Let England Shake” – a throwback to 60′s rock set in a cowboy Western gunslinging match.
The title track opens the album with the audio font to set the album off. Twanging dissonant guitars, swishing drums that never take charge except to guide the listener to tap slightly and dueling vocals. A playful marimba-like riff plays over the top of this track which is one of the more upbeat numbers – more like a country shuffle! “The Last Living Rose” is about as pure rock as the album gets with a defined electric acoustic guitar and strong vocals. This song, like most of the album feels purposely run down and chugging. There’s something of a breakdown going on throughout the album where everything feels intentionally clunky and muddy. It reminds me stylistic of Uh-Huh-Her but with a lot more cohesion.
“The Glorious Land” is a real treat with a completely out of time battle horn sounding over echoing guitars and a soft but fast drum beat. One of the key new sounds for this album is having a male vocal run alongside PJ’s two differently pitched vocal tracks and here’s the first sample of it and it works perfectly. This is possibly my favourite track from the album and it builds up to a great call/response finale. The echoing guitars and muddy brass riffs continue with “The Words That Maketh Murder” which has a maddening swirling quality to it. It also, just like the title track, has a sinister comedic evil to it because the male vocals underpinning the track makes me think of very old Hollywood musicals where everyone dances with happy smiles and hats on. Imagining that while they sing about words that maketh murder sits deliciously on my brain!
“All and Everyone” is the first real slow track on the album with organs filling out the reverbs. Nowhere else is the whole clunky beautiful breakdown element of the album more exposed and on show than here in the chorus’. “On Battleship Hill” see’s PJ’s higher vocal register used to excellent effect as she soars “cruel nature has won again”. The whole cowboy western vision is heightened here as the almost spoken deep male vocal compliments Harvey to perfection and light piano tinkles away to the beat in simple but beautiful interludes. Here, like a lot of the tracks, you can tell Harvey is really giving it some welly but you don’t get the whole effect because the entire album bleeds across the speakers.
“England” is the abstract track on the album almost sounding Bulgarian at the start as a background lament gives a middle eastern feel to it. The rest of the track is acoustic guitar led with lots of abstract uses of string instruments filling the corners. “In The Dark Places” floats towards the rockier end of the spectrum with the most direct track on the album with a anthemic bridge. I also like how the chorus is much more sparse than the verses.
“Bitter Branches” is the third in the trilogy of fast tempo tracks on the album. PJ snarls and shouts every two lines in what for some reason is a song that makes me think of T-Rex. It doesn’t sound like them at all! I’ll just leave that out there. “Hanging in the Wire” is ethereal with simple piano chords leading the way over whispery vocals and hissy percussion. It’s like we’ve battled through the cities of England to the open countryside and quiet spots of the country.
Simple yet disarmingly beautiful.
“Written On the Forehead” is the hippy track of the bunch. The whole track is an ambient echo of guitars and uplifting vocal samples while a heavily processed Harvey sounds like all her vocal tracks clash over each other which makes her sound not of this earth. “The Colour of the Earth” is the closing track, which appears to use the male vocal as the lead vocal! It’s almost like an Irish pub ditty you’d sing after ten pints but it fits the album perfectly.
“Let England Shake” has a sound all of its own. A throw back to yesteryear in terms of style, production, intent and emotion – it’s a perfectly pitched tonic to all the nitpickers that sit on every note. This is an album that is more about the overall tone and feeling than the precision perfect clinical music you can have these days. Roll on the next PJ Harvey sound!
PJ Harvey’s new album “Let England Shake” is released next week and her new Vinyl single “The Words That Maketh Murder” is out today and here is the video for it. The opening is fantastic. Expect a review of the album next week.
PJ Harvey returns with “The Last Living Rose” from the forthcoming album Let England Shake.
I had wondered where it had got to when PJ Harvey performed “Let England Shake” on TV months and months ago, well now we have the answer. PJ Harvey’s new album entitled “Let England Shake” funnily enough, will be out Valentines Day 2011 (Feb 14th). It’s available to preorder on Amazon already. “We Can’t Go back…”
“Within A Month” has completely discordant guitar stumming to a drum loop while John talks through a megaphone effected microphone about all kinds of wonderful things. Gradually more guitar riffs and loops flood in the left speaker, while the monologue spews out the right. It’s really interesting for me as its the first time I’ve heard John’s voice at all and coupled with his lazy swinging guitars and rolling drums it makes for a taut production.
“False Fire” is the second b-side is equally as frought as thrasing guitar with added organ bashes in and out as John takes a kitsch view on a country song! It reminds me very much of early PJ songs “Me-Jane” and “M-Bike” in tone, structure and song style. It’s a rip roaring fun track.
While PJ’s influence is there, she cannot be heard vocally and John taking the forefront is quite unique and while it does project a completely different spin on everything, and his vocals aren’t as strong as PJ’s, everything else is channelling the same vein and that’s something grand indeed.
Slightly delayed it may be, but here are the top ten artists that have been viewed for April 2009 which saw a bit of a change at the top with Utada taking top step from Tori Amos, Vienna Teng & Sarah Slean! Congrats to everyone on the list and here’s to another great month which will be full of new content (and a bit more prolific than last month!). However, it was our second busiest month of the sites history despite it being one of the quietest in terms of new content. May will be a busy one!
01) Utada (RE)
02) Tori Amos (^)
03) Vienna Teng (^)
04) Sarah Slean (v)
05) Brendan Perry (v)
06) Dead Can Dance (NE)
07) OverClocked Remix (v)
08) PJ Harvey (RE)
09) Akira Yamaoka (v)
10) Hiroki Kikuta (RE)
PJ Harvey and John Parish have performed the unique “Pig Will Not” on KcRw and here’s the video performance for everyone to enjoy. I know this song won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but for those who dig it, its something like an orgasm!
Well March was a big month! HPM hit a new high for hits and we should pass the 20,000 mark at some point in April – not too shabby for a site that’s dedicated to music that’s half about alternative, largely unknown artists, and half about video game music. This month was all about two artists who went blow to blow all the way until the final days however OverClocked Remix became the most viewed artist of the month and should become the most viewed artist of our site completely if things continue! The release of Summoning of Spirits and the interview with the project managers combined beat of the review of Utada’s anticipated second English album. Tori Amos’ latest album announcement slipped her into third while Vienna Teng slides down to fourth. Here’s the complete top 10:
01) OverClocked Remix (NE)
02) Utada (NE)
03) Tori Amos (^)
04) Vienna Teng (v)
05) Akira Yamaoka (v)
06) PJ Harvey & John Parish (NE)
07) Sarah Slean (<>)
08) Brendan Perry (v)
09) Hiroki Kikuta (v)
10) Yasunori Mitsuda (RE)
After the ethereal “White Chalk”, PJ is back with grungy guitars and screaming moans of anger with her latest album “A Man A Woman Walked By”, which marks her second collaboration with John Parish. Just like “Dance Hall At Louse Point”, Parish is right on PJ’s musical wavelength with discordant guitar riffs, strange production values and creating musical wonderment for PJ to work her lyrical wax with.
Single “Black Hearted Love” opens with a 90′s PJ song with wailing guitars and a final minute that is to die for as the instruments gradually build and build to a downplayed finale. It’s both catchy and almost anti-single like however its possibly the most commercial song on the album. The guitar riff is ear piercingly exquisite.
“Sixteen Fifteen Fourteen” is much more representative of the album to come with its banjo’esque lead instrument sounding purposefully detuned and therefore like a deranged clown on a mission to kill. Add to that PJ counting backwards and screaming “Erica’s Coming” like a frenzied banshee and you have a cracking track. Think “Shame” but unhinged.
“Leaving California” harks back to White Chalk with Harvey’s high pitched strained vocals and minimalistic approach. It reminds me a bit of “Ballad of the Soldiers Wife” with its chug along waltz percussion. Perfectly abandoned and utterly unique. In stark contrast “The Chair” is a two and half minute frenzy. Free flow drum rolls and churning guitars are at the forefront while Harvey lets rip in the middle makes this song a controlled edgy piece of genius. “April” is a slow ballad with plenty of organs and heart breaking vocal talent. As if drawing out every last tear from a tissue when ringing it, this song will take you down in flames.
“A Man A Woman Walked By / The Crow Knows Where All The Children Go” is a fantastic song. The chorus chanting “I want his fucking ass” is an experience to behold and is made all the more enjoyable by PJ’s “angry country farmer man” accent. The music also goes off on its own and ends up with some quirky and ingenious studio trickery by fading in and out various instruments. I can see this being some fans favourite and being on repeat for quite a while.
“The Soldier” is a brother to Leaving California with its production and overall sound but this is more together. The echoing piano and the quiet instruments in the background add a real atmosphere to the vocals and sets up this very sad song.
On any PJ album there is one song that falls under the title “freak out”. “Pig Will Not” is that song. Three minutes of screaming PJ? Check! Manic guitars? Check! This will have fans in raptures in a way that PJ hasn’t done for a while. Screaming “I Will Not” at all angles from the speakers has never been so fun, and the last segment is interesting where the song sounds like you’re listening to the song from outside the studio door but the piano is next to you.
“Passionless, Pointless” is sublime track with its keyboards and smooth bass. It’s not laid back but there’s an disorganised heaven hiding behind the harsh exterior. A potential single perhaps? “Cracks in the Canvas” closes the album with a short lullaby story that is like spoken prayer /poem over angelic backing vocals and broken guitar.
PJ Harvey and John Parish have simply done it again. Raucous, rocky, random and angelic all wound into a sound scape of two artists who refuse to flex from they believe in. This is 2009′s first essential dip into the world of the weird and wonderful. Enjoy and bask whilst shounting “I Will Not”…
PJ Harvey & John Parish’s much awaited follow up to 95′s Dance Hall At Louse Point, “A Man A Woman Walked by” is coming out next Monday. To celebrate, here’s the official music video to the single “Black Hearted Love“. Bounce it a little higher PJ!
PJ Harvey isn’t normally one for artistic videos that are unique however the video for recent single “The Piano” breaks her mould. You can see the video here. Stop photography and magazine cut outs have never quite been the same! Let’s hope she gets more adventurous!
This weeks live performance comes from PJ Harvey and the song “Silence” taken from her latest album White Chalk with PJ playing the piano. It’s wonderful to hear a TV performance from an artist that doesn’t sound wooden and by the numbers so let’s hear it for Lady Harvey!
PJ Harvey last year turned in what was one of the best 30 minutes of music that occurred in 2007. “White Chalk” was a complete change shifting the emphasis from guitar to piano and with it PJ crafted some of the most simplistic yet haunting songs I’ve heard in a while.
“The Devil” is about as close to her previous music as she gets with the almost b-movie horror sound that comes across. Singing in a whispery high pitched voice, it’s innocence juxtaposes the downbeat drama that surrounds it and makes for compelling listening. “Dear Darkness” showcases the minimal element of the album with great use of male backing vocals to add bass into the song. “Grow Grow Grow” ends the opening trilogy of desperate shril songs in great fashion with PJ’s wailing to discorded notes in an album highlight.
“When Under Ether” signals the more subtle slant of the album. This intricate song was the first single and despite clocking in just over two minutes it packs a hefty punch with a catchy hook. “White Chalk” uses distanced vocals to give an almost sea shanty to the death tone worthy of being the title track while “Broken Harp” is over before it’s begun but has an evil vocal section in the middle which makes up for it.
Into the latter section which picks up the pace for a dash of despair. “Silence” is a stand out with its simple piano and light percussive sound. PJ’s vocals here are fantastic. “Talk To You” slows it down again before “The Piano” takes you in with its harrowing lyrics, dark moments and carefully constructed rising tension making it my favourite on the album. “Before Departure” is the twin of “Dear Darkness” in style. The mesmerizing “The Mountain” concludes with a piano/vocal piece that will have you either shrieking uncontrollably at the top of your voice or teary-eyed with fraught sadness.
Alternative to its core, “White Chalk” isn’t for the faint hearted. Many Harvey fans have hailed it as one of her best so if you are already a fan, you need this yesterday. New fans may do best to start elsewhere and work towards it as it may scare you off from a catalogue of genius that you just need to warm to.
PJ Harvey, not content with releasing the superb “White Chalk” last year is currently in the studio with old friend John Parish recording a follow up to Dance-Hall At Louse Point! It will be interesting if it will be a direct follow up to that record or a continuation of the more piano-led music of her most recent album.