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New Music Tuesday: PJ Harvey, Surf City, Tune-Yards, Drive-By Truckers, and Mogwai

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.”

PJ_Harvey, “The Words That Maketh Murder”
Eddie Cochran, “Summertime Blues”

Surf City, Kudos

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.”

Surf City, “Teachers”

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