Thing of the Day

PJ Harvey, Roa in Mexico,& in London this week...

February 8th 2011

PJ Harvey - Let England ShakePJ HARVEY – Let England Shake  (Island) - Her eighth album is a bittersweet affair, all sugary sweet vocals, sweeter than before, angelic... recorded in a 19th Century Dorset church with the help of Flood, Mick Harvey and long time collaborator John Parish – a beautiful album but the birds are silent and are England’s dancing days over?  Things are bleak and away with the violent hopelessness of It all, she’s not lacerating now, her voice isn’t raw but it may as well be. Soldiers fall in battle like ‘lumps of meat’, landscapes are torn up both physically and spiritually. A lament for her England or indeed the whole world? This Glorious Land where "Our lands are ploughed by tanks and feet, feet marching.". 
- Apparently the lyrics all came first, the music afterwards. It all sounds beautifully right, all very dreamy – until you focus in on the bitterness and those thin tones of the autoharp.  Some of it is very folky, and the aforementioned This Glorious Land certainly is: a beautiful song until you listen a little closer, and how is our glorious country sown? Not with wheat and corn. She’s sounding a little Katie-Jane Garside actually, otherly, longing to see things a different way, to see a woman’s face, seen too many things she wants to forget (or the song’s subject wishes to forget). This is not her England of fog rolling down the mountains and over the graveyards of dead sea captains, of battered books and how is our glorious land bestowed? Oh Eng-er-land…. Oh America…. What is the glorious fruit of our land? Arms and legs up in the trees? Withered vine reaching from the country that she loved, England you leave a taste…  a bitter one… She sings a clinging hymn, a folk lament over a faint middle-eastern background, what are we doing to this world?  Let it burn burn burn, blood and fire…

PJ Harvey Niney The Observer is sampled, a muffled voice chants, “Blood, blood, blood, blood and fire” a reggae counter-balance this time, all weighted down with silent ache, to rise again or are England’s dancing days really done? The beautiful filthiness of ages, all hastily sold for nothing. Let England Shake is a beautiful lament for a country and a world, to live and die through England… withered vine, the people stagnating. And she is right, it does feel like a dying land now, and this is such a beautiful bitter-tasting lament, this is a beautifully bitter sweet album, songs of England’s wars around the world, both then and now, not as obvious as you might expect, another summer past before us, has she ever sounded so beautiful?  The twists of war and the pain England causes, this is not homely pastoral turf any more… A beautiful love letter to a country’s dying throes… Is this her finest album?

PJ Harvey’s new album Let England Shake  is released on February 14th.

Meanwhile ROA shows no sign of taking a stop for breath. Seems he’s just hit Mexico and this week you can catch him at London's Black Rat Projects on Thursday 10th with a unique pop-up installation. Do we need to explain who Roa is now? His distinctive street art, his strong/delicate aerosol-as-pencil line, and a name that’s been on everyone’s lips for that last six months. Roa is repopulating the cities with the wildlife of the particular country the city is built on, you must have seen his giant rabbits of the side of walls by now? His great big crows? Anyway, he’s back in London this week… 

Roa in Mexico

That’s a photo from Mexico, there’s some great photos from Roa’s visit to Mexico here -

Here’s a taste of the Black Rat press release:  We are excited to announce the first artist in residency project which lends support to an artist for a flexible period of time with the view to breeding experimentation and facilitating a freedom of expression un-connected to commercial gain. The Project Space is currently inhabited by Belgian painter ROA whose large-scaled and often lenticular works can be spotted around east London and internationally. For this exhibition his work takes a sculptural turn with doors, windows and un-expected openings breaking through the contained frame of the Project Space built in the centre of the gallery.

Explore Black Rats here -



Seen on the streets of Seattle, well, seen on the always good website via a Twitter from one of the many people who network this stuff as quickly as it happens 

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