PJ Harvey – ‘Let England Shake’
We listened to this at the second meeting of Devon Record Club, and shortly afterwards a digital copy fell into my inbox, put there by someone who shall remain unconvincingly anonymous, but sits somewhere near the top of this whole #musicdiaryproject operation.
I didn’t want to listen again until I’d bought the record. I sent an emissary to London Town to buy it for me yesterday, so listened to it on my dog walk this morning. Sounded really great. Enhanced by wandering through misty-soon-sunny country lanes, past hundred year oaks and even older graveyards.
Dominated today by the music bed for the trail currently running on Radio 4 for a documentary about Tony Hancock. It’s some sort of Elbow-lite, piano led confection, quite nice and I think I might even own it. Couldn’t place it at all however and still can’t. When I tried all I could squeeze out was ‘Stop Breathin” by Pavement, which morphed each time into the latter stages of ‘No Rm. 9 Kentucky’ by Shudder To Think. Answers on a postcard please.
I had a quick blast of ‘Dreamer’ by Supertramp in the afternoon, but it soon passed.
Devon Record Club
So, as I write this we’re at Devon Record Club, which has been covered in some detail previously. This time Tom has set a precondition, which is that we must bring along a record that we haven’t heard before. This has rather put the kibosh on my usual bi-weekly pattern of listening which, unusually for Record Club members who by-and-large just grab something super-cool from their shelves as they’re dashing out of the door, consists of obsessively listening and sifting through possible choices and then going over and over the record I’m going to bring.
Can’t do that this week.
However, it has given me a chance, finally, to bring ‘Zaireeka’ and associated additional equipment to make listening to it possible. Tom and Nick don’t know that yet and, in fact, Nick has already told me that he’s going to choose it for the next meeting, which he now can’t, and Tom has tried to impose a secondary rule which is that we must listen to each of tonight’s records at least 6 times before writing about them. I’ve told them that won’t be possible.
Kurt Vile – ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’
Tom’s choice. This sounds nothing like I think his last record sounded like, which I recall being scabrous electric blues. It’s really quite nice. Sounds like J Mascis covering, fairly faithfully, ‘Workbook’ by Bob Mould. He doesn’t really sound like Mascis, but something in his slightly bleary voice recalls the great long-hair. It’s got that balance between swagger and restraint that American singer-guitarists seem to do so easily. Maybe the cultural gap swallows the bits that might grate if he was a Brit.
Bill Callahan – ‘Apocalypse’
This is great and strange. I love Smog/Bill Callahan. He has one of my two or three favourite voices, one I could happily lie down and go to sleep in forever. Great, great lyricist too. Like, so good you think most others should pack up in shame and admit they are just footling children. Whereas his last record was immediate and gorgeous, this sounds like his strangest to date. Structurally and instrumentally he’s pushing into quietly challenging places. Really looking forward to buying and hearing this properly.
Now Nick is waxing lyrical about how great the ‘Zaireeka’ experience is. I think he’s going to be disappointed when I finally reveal my choice. A bunch of cobbled together equipment seems like just the right thing to me, but perhaps not to him.
The Flaming Lips – ‘Zaireeka’
I’ve had this 4cd set for 14 years and never listened to it. Not surprising. Not that many friends within 200 miles who like the same music as I do, and this one needs them all in the same room along with their stereos.
I’ll write more when I can, but for now can I say it sounds much much better than I ever thought it could, and those social and performance aspects work so well it’s almost spine-tingling. I’m already sad that it’s going to finish soon and I won’t be able to hear it again for 14 years.