I’m a big Radiohead fan. My AIM screenname (ugh) was “wadiohead” (triple, possibly quadruple ugh). The King of Limbs is very good. And even though I’ve listened to it a lot, I’m not done processing it yet. Not ready to say where it fits in the Pantheon of Radiohead. But I’m leaning towards this being their least successful post-Pablo Honey. Which may or may not be true. And certainly doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s very good: didn’t I just say that? What I am ready to say, with some level of certainty, is that it was not the best album released last week.
That PJ Harvey album? It’s an absolute monster. How much of a monster? So much of a monster that Kanye had to put himself in the sarcophagus. So much of a monster that it fades her entire back catalog. That it answers the question that Is this Desire? asked. That it made me re-listen to Uh Huh Her (still her worst). That it’s the first time in I don’t know how long that I’ve found myself worried about what an album has to say. That it made me break our rule about posting multiple tracks from an album. So much of a monster that it gives me the chills.
Or. Another way: So much of a monster that I’ve been listening to it rather than the newly released Radiohead album. And that you can now AIM me at PJCarvey.
Seriously: go buy Let England Shake. Now. But, yes. That Radiohead album is very good.
Occasionally, we post on the week’s new music released on Tuesdays. You’d think, given the name, that it was a weekly feature: you’d be wrong.
PJ Harvey, Let England Shake
I wasn’t enthralled by Harvey’s White Chalk, which articulated itself in a sustained whisper. And the first time I heard Let England Shake on NPR’s preview feed, I questioned its worth. But what a difference fidelity makes. As soon as I started streaming it on MOG and its beautiful 320kbps ($5/month for 8 million tracks; Try MOG free!), I was enthralled. Layers of weirdness. An album about war that is chilling and beautiful. Standout track is “The Words That Maketh Murder:” pedaled high-tone guitar, punchy brass, a singsongy refrain, and lyrics about war’s horrors… all yielding to an (ironic? contrapuntal? pleading?) query “What if I took my problem to the United Nations?” borrowed from Eddie Cochran, “Summertime Blues.”
The last time we tuned into New Zealand’s Surf City, we were trying to start a continental shelf war with Australia via their “Icy Lakes”. With an album’s worth of 90s haze, New Zealand has some good ammunition. None of it measures up to the heights of “Icy Lakes,” but it’s a solid effort, and they’re at close to their best when they don their Pavement hat in “Teachers.”