JACK WHITE ALBUM PLAYBACK

We’re taking part in the worldwide advance listening parties for BOARDING HOUSE REACH, the new album from Jack White which is out March 23rd on Third Man Records, will take place on Friday, March 9th at Music’s Not Dead. In addition to hearing the new album in full two weeks before it’s release, all attendees will be given exclusive 3″ Jack White buttons (while supplies last) and will have the chance to enter to win one listening party exclusive single-sided tri-color 7” of Jack’s new single “Over and Over and Over” or a Jack White cotton canvas tote bag. Also a chance to enter for the grand global prize of a trip for 2 to see Jack White’s first tour date at Little Caesars in Detroit, Michigan. Including return flights for 2 adults, 2 night’s hotel + $500 spending money

PJ Harvey – Rid Of Me

I am currently in the mood to just punch the world and keep punching. I just wish I had a treacherous ex-lover to give this state of mind some kind of justification, especially listening to an album with the power and wounded rage of Rid Of Me. PJ Harvey even managed to unnerve her seasoned producer Steve Albini (a man who is basically a by-word for vicious fleshless rock about subjects you’re scared to think about).

At the time, she was recovering from a nervous breakdown and ate nothing but potatoes during the recording. If any record captures this unhinged nervous collapse, Rid Of Me does, right down to the still extraordinary cover, which was taken in total darkness save for the split second flash that illuminated the final result. One Melody Maker journalist was in her car when she heard the title track’s final climax for the first time – she crashed. When she rasps “Lick my legs, I’m on fire”, there’s not an uncurled toe in the house. Those only familiar with 2010′s brilliant ‘Let England Shake’ may be disappointed, but if you’re a fan of Nirvana’s most difficult and abrasive moments, you may have found your go-to record for when that special someone crushes all your hopes and dreams. It’s an exceptionally difficult record – she actually sounds like she’s been physically injured on ‘Legs’, but she carries it through, right to the end when she ponders “…but I could kill you instead.” It’s not all exorcism of demons though…

OK, just kidding, it’s got demons coming out the wazoo (or wherever it is that demons come out of), but the songs themselves are so great that it’s not a chore to witness it. ’50ft Queenie’ borders on actually being fun – the hooks throughout are fantastic from the bellows of “Don’t you wish you never, never met her” on the title track, to that nauseous punch-drunk riff on ‘Dry’. Plus, Steve Albini does his usual brilliant job of making the guitar strings sound like wreathes of barbed wire. It’s even dead catchy a lot of the time, like on ’50ft Queenie, Man Size and Hook, despite the thrilling unpolished sandpaper-and-steel rawness of it all. You’d be mistaken if you think ‘Rid Of Me’ is a victim’s diatribe – the only victim here is whichever sad-sack dumped her. So fellas, the moral of the story is, never break PJ Harvey’s heart. She might make an amazing album about you, but it will make you wish you were dead.

Click here to hear Man-Size

For fans of… Nirvana, Pixies, Slint, Big Black, Holy Bible-era Manic Street Preachers.
–Joe Anthony Hill

Liars – WIXIW

Top 25 LPs of 2012
#1

Surely fans of Liars have been taught to expect the unexpected by now, but, even so, what are we supposed to expect when they deliver an album of music so unexpected that even those expecting the unexpected don’t know what to expect? (That’s some faux-highbrow bull**** right there.) They almost definitely didn’t think they’d have to be taught how to pronounce its title (“wish-you”, which sounds like a sneeze more than an album). From stroppy squealing dance-punk, to peerless concept albums about anxiety and witch-trials, to clang-bang-boom indie pop to epic grand-scale suites of urban claustrophobia, they’ve crossed a lot of borders, but who put ‘WIXIW’ on, pressed play and had their assumptions fulfilled? Synthesizers? What the crap?

Even the band themselves can’t remember how they got a lot of the sounds for the record. They would gather “different” sounds by any means they could – they would hang wet flannels on a line and record the sound of the water droplets hitting saucepans; they would place microphones up trees to record the flocks of roosting birds; they would use guitars with snapped necks and Christ knows what else. What’s brilliant about these methods, however, is that Liars never make this found-sound approach into a gimmick. They weave this bottled earthly strangeness seamlessly into the songs.

The songs themselves centre around the concept of doubt – while the opener says “I’ll never let you down / You’ll never be alone” in of one the most tender songs the band has written, it all dissipates into ‘Octagon’, with Angus Andrew’s guttural drawl of “Leave me, I will break your heart”. These songs feel like something of a sequential internal narrative of unease and restlessness. It’s a deep record, but it’s also the most approachable the band has ever been. It’s one of those LPs where you can find new angles to it with more and more plays, not just lyrically, but sonically.

I feel like this blurb is less over-the-top enthusiastic than most of the others I write. Maybe that’s because I’m trying to restrain myself (for once), maybe it’s because I feel writing about a record like this feels pointless and doesn’t really add anything, or maybe I’d just rather you listen to it and dig deep into it yourself than sit here reading about it, but I will say this: albums like ‘WIXIW’ are exceptionally rare. Liars have completely overhauled their sound and made it more accessible than ever, and yet they have done it all without a shred of compromise, pushing their experimental boundaries into new territories. It’s one of their most immediate records, and one of their most impenetrable, but all of this isn’t the main reason why it sits at #1 on this self-important pompous countdown of mine: it’s simply because, I have enjoyed listening to no other LP from 2012 more than this one.

For fans of… Radiohead, CAN, Deerhunter, Fever Ray, The Knife
Click here to hear No.1 Against The Rush

–Joe Anthony Hill

**Posts signed Joe Anthony Hill are not the opinions of the staff of Music’s Not Dead. I don’t work, there I just wish I did and they let me write stuff here. (Thanks guys.)

Merry New Year and happy listening!

Lotus Plaza – Spooky Action at a Distance

Top 25 LPs of 2012
#2

Oh Christ, how do I start this without descending into a hyperbolic self-parody… have I already done it? In for a penny? It’s hard for me to talk about Deerhunter without babbling and making weird arm movements. I’m far too attached to them, to the point that I often actively avoid listening to them because I’m scared of the inexplicable possibility of growing to hate them (a thought that may make sense only to me, I apologise). Maybe one of the reasons why this band is so great is because it’s guided by two opposites. Tall, loud eccentric Bradford Cox writes slightly twisted and warped songs, with cryptic ideas and lyrics, while still being absorbing and beautiful. His best friend, however, is the short, quiet and good-natured Lockett Pundt, who writes (equally brilliant) far warmer and more melodic songs, with, somewhat less enigmatic lyrics. While his first solo outing as Lotus Plaza was promising and rewarding, it felt both a little over-saturated and the songwriting  didn’t rank with his best. Then, out of nowhere, this happened.

Recorded entirely by Pundt (and with a live band in mind), ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ isn’t just a record that dragged its maker out of his bandmate’s shadow, it’s one of the most wonderful indie-rock records for years. It’s also one of the most perfect mergers of whirling shoegaze and accessible pop. It opens (after a brief celestial synth intro) with ‘Strangers’, a lush hymn to finding friendship in unlikely places, which chugs slowly to a stop as if the tape machine is running out of battery; the yowling guitar flexes on ‘White Galactic One’ touch back to his noisier roots, but there’s a euphoric crunch in them that wasn’t there before, while the chiming ‘Eveningness’ has one of the year’s most memorable riffs. The hope and optimism shines through this album like heat, especially on songs like the quieter and more intimate ‘Dusty Rhodes’ (written for his fiancée who he married a few months after this record came out) and in the blunt affection rife within ‘Remember Our Days’. Its only moment of real heartbreak comes at the tail end: ‘Black Buzz’ was written for his friend who was struggling with drug addiction; the change in tone when this song comes on is as clear and disarming as a light-bulb blowing. Deerhunter are returning to the studio next year, and, after a record like this, you’ll forgive me for getting my hopes up.
For fans of… My Bloody Valentine, Deerhunter, Tame Impala, Galaxie 500
Click here to hear Strangers.
–Joe Anthony Hill