Pop & Rock 2011: 30 Best Albums
In cock-rockier hands, using the Great War to consider its contemporary counterparts and examine a bemused homeland could result in a ham-fisted concept album (see: the 1970s). Instead, PJ Harvey's Mercury Prize-winning Let England Shake fuses heady themes and dynamic compositions to create an elegant, erudite, and wholly thrilling artistic achievement. With economical, evocative lyrics, Harvey miraculously manages subtlety on an album populated with dying boys calling for their mothers ("The Colour of the Earth"), "gunners waiting in corpses," ("All and Everyone"), and soldiers falling "like lumps of meat" ("The Words that Maketh Murder"). Taking more inspiration from TS Eliot than Robert Graves ― though indebted to both ― her poetic scope continues to broaden. Correspondingly, this is as musically opaque as the songwriter has ever been. Recorded in a church, the sound is airy when it needs to be and, at turns, grating and appropriately lofty. Throughout, the pristine production judiciously anchors experimentation and brings together flights of fancy. Wisely using distorted guitars ("In the Dark Places"), unsettling orchestration ("England"), and a dash of reggae ("Written on the Forehead"), Harvey ingeniously augments and elevates thematic concerns. Conversely, "The Glorious Land" ― with its can't-resist bugle ― and the blood-soaked, piano-driven "Hanging in the Wire" are more obvious but no less effective. Filtering an examination of her home through World War I battlefields, Let England Shake may not be as overtly personal as some of Harvey's past work, but it's no less intimate (see "England). Bonus: it's way catchier than All Quiet on the Western Front.
StreamsJul 22, 2015
The Lonely Parade"Girl" on Exclaim! TV
Augusta Veno, Charlotte Dempsey and Anwyn Climenhage are the Lonely Parade, a punk-y indie rock trio from Peterborough, ON. Their debut albu...
StreamsJul 21, 2015
Elliot Maginot"Monsters at War" on Exclaim! TV
After spending his teen years playing in skate-punk garage bands, Montreal musician Elliot Maginot's debut LP might come as a surprise. Insp...
FeaturesJul 21, 2015
Conor OberstFolk In Many Guises
Conor Oberst is many things to many people. Emo wunderkind, folk troubadour, rock'n'roll saviour — he's been called it all. Yet for so...
NewsJul 21, 2015
Titus Andronicus Dissect the Epic, Emotional 'Most Lamentable Tragedy'
"By the way, all my tears are on the record," Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles tells Exclaim! over the phone from his NYC home. "T...
ReviewsJul 20, 2015
Hundred WatersBass Camp Stage, Pemberton BC, July 19
Falling right into the beautifully crafted "Out Alee," Hundred Waters graced the Bass Camp Stage on the last day of Pemberton (July 19). Cup...
StreamsJul 17, 2015
The Muscadettes"Growing Pains" on Exclaim! TV
Twin sisters Chantal and Kathleen Ambridge are the Muscadettes, a band whose sun-drenched, reverb-laden sound reflects an upbringing on '60s...
NewsJul 17, 2015
Left and Leaving: An Essential Weakerthans Playlist
Earlier this week, beloved Winnipeg indie rockers the Weakerthans broke the hearts of Canadian music fans everywhere when drummer Jason Tait...
StreamsJul 15, 2015
Michael Rault"Hiding from a Heartbreak" on Exclaim! TV
Toronto's Michael Rault is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and clever craftsman; he assembles glamour, psych, groove and blues influences to...