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.”
As an ignorant American, virtually all I know about the cultural nuances of Australia and New Zealand can neatly be summed up with these skits from Flight of the Conchords:
So: I know nothing. I even thought that New Zealand was part of Australia’s “continent”; turns out they’re on completely different continental shelves. So what qualifies me to talk about Australia’s or New Zealand’s music? I know how to use the internet just well enough to set up a blog, that’s what. Someone should really put a stop to that.
Australia’s Deep Sea Arcade
The press release we got sent from Deep Sea Arcade likens them to “The Zombies throwing a beach party for Portishead.” I don’t hear Portishead, but I do hear The Zombies. And oh my, do I dig their The Zombies handshaking Elvis Costello sound. New single is “Keep on Walking.”
New Zealand’s Surf City
I first heard Surf City doing a credible Jesus & Mary Chain shtick for their debut EP. But what’s really got me going is the krautrock of “Icy Lakes,” which is off their upcoming debut LP. Due out in November on Fire Records.