Friday, December 28, 2007

My top 20 albums of 2007

The Guardian just printed its top 20 albums of 2007. The Times (of London) has also listed its faves, as has the New York Times. And last, but not least, Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson (r.) has listed his fave records of the year. Great to see that Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and Radiohead rate highly in just about all these lists.

So here are my faves of 2007 (with links to reviews):

2: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - "Raising Sand"

3: Jesca Hoop - "Kismet"

4: Radiohead - "In Rainbows"

5: PJ Harvey - "White Chalk"

The 5 records above are my very favorite albums of 2007. The rest below are in no particular order of ranking...

6: Blackfield - "Blackfield II"

7: Scott Matthews – "Passing Strangers"

8: Crowded House - "Time on Earth"

9: Marillion - "Somewhere Else"

10: Gary Moore - "Close As You Get"

11: Rush – "Snakes & Arrows"

12: LCD Soundsystem – "Sound of Silver"

13: Joni Mitchell – "Shine"

14: Robben Ford – "Truth"

15: Otis Taylor – "Definition of a Circle"

16: "Once" - soundtrack by Glen Hansard & Market Irglova

17: Amy Winehouse – "Back to Black"

18: Iron & Wine – "The Shepherd's Dog"

19: Rilo Kiley – "Under the Blacklight"

20: Modest Mouse – "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Peter Jackson to be Ringleader again

It seems that one ring truly does rule them all. After years of rancor and heated allegations in the press over a financial dispute, New Line Co-CEO Bob Shaye and director Peter Jackson have opted for a golden handshake to collaborate on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." Put it this way, if these two men can set aside their differences, there's hope yet that Morrissey and Marr will reunite The Smiths.

Well, the Hobbit film is one good thing to come of "The Golden Compass," New Line's blah attempt to begin a new fantasy franchise. The film's poor box-office performance has seemingly spurred a flurry of phone calls between New Line and Jackson. Today's press release announced that the bare-footed Kiwi will executive produce a film version of "The Hobbit," a prequel of sorts to "The Lord of the Rings." Make that films. The first Hobbit movie will unspool in theaters in 2009 and the second part will arrive a year later. How will they create two movies from a book that seems like a mere pamphlet compared to the Biblical "Rings" series? A recent story in Entertainment Weekly speculated that additional material from Tolkien's "Silmarillion" book will be incorporated into the story.

Three questions remain. One: Will Jackson direct the venture? Sadly, the press release suggests that he'll merely oversee the creative aspect of the production while he works on finishing his adaptation of Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones" and his trilogy of Tintin, the red-head Belgian comic-book hero with a quiff of the sort not seen since Cameron Diaz's use of, er, "hair mousse" in "There's Something About Mary." Two: Will the films be in 3-D? No mention of whether that's the case in the press release but, given Jackson's interest in the medium – his WETA effects house is working on James Cameron's 3-D sci-fi blockbuster "Avatar," and "Tintin" will require theatergoers to wear special-effex specs -- I'm speculating that it could be a possibility. And, third, since Andy Sirkis is working on "Tintin," will he be available to play Gollum?

Additional statements and updates from Entertainment Weekly, here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The most fun concerts ever?

Crowded House has been living up to its name with a string of packed concerts across the globe – and for good reason. In part, it's because frontman Neil Finn's DNA isn't made up of nucleotides, like the rest of us. His double-helix is likely constructed out of musical bars containing bass, treble, and tenor clefs. Few possess such a genetic gift for melody.

But the other part of their success comes down to this: Few bands interact with their audiences like these musicians from Down Under. After taking in the Led Zeppelin reunion concert the previous night, Crowded House prepared for its Royal Albert Hall show by leaving sheets of paper on seats so that the concertgoers could make paper aeroplanes to aim at the stage. At another point, Finn said the band had always wanted to see themselves play live. So they handed their instruments over to their roadies, who proceded to play a perfect rendition of "It's Only Natural" while the band dashed over to one of the Albert Hall boxes to watch from afar. Then the band members clambered over the box and waded through the audience to return to the stage to finish the rest of the tune.

The previous night, the band played a 50-minute second encore, gleefully overrunning the 11 p.m. venue curfew. And, as is their custom, this band not only completely overhauls its setlists each night, they'll also gamely tackle audience requests of rare and obsure tracks they've not played in years. Wish I could have been there to witness it myself but I still have fond memories of their August show in Boston.

By the way, if you only Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over," you're missing out on one of the great back catalogues in music. (America ignored the band just when they became superstars across the world on the strength of their two classic records, "Woodface" and "Together Alone.")

For starters, try "Distant Sun" or "Weather With You" or "When You Come." They're all on the Crowded House Best Of, "Recurring Dream" – 18 tracks of musical nirvana. Then drill down into the individual albums, Finn's solo work ( "Try Whistling This" is one of the best albums of the '90s), as well as his songwriting partnership on two albums with his brother, Tim, as The Finn Brothers.

Zep get the Led boots out

Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin's bear of a manager (by turns huggable and ferocious) may be long gone but his legacy remains the same. His policy of merciless treatment of bootleggers is very much alive today, even when those "bootleggers" are just ordinary blokes taking grainy, boomy minute-long video clips with their cellphones and posting them to the Internet.

Ever since Monday's reunion concert, YouTube has been working overtime to yank clips of the show from the site, citing a copyright claim by the Warner Music Group. Others theorize that YouTube, whose owner, Google, has been reeling from a $1 billion lawsuit by Viacom over copyright content, is merely following the behest of the band's management. So, why deny the millions who couldn't attend the show even so much as a glimpse of, say, "Kashmir"? One theory is that an official DVD is likely to be released, so what better way to gin up demand for it than quash existing footage?

It wasn't always thus. In interviews, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have talked about going shopping for Led Zep bootlegs in Japan. In fact, the duo's 1972 experimental jams with the India's Bombay City orchestra, once thought lost forever, resurfaced as a bootleg in the early 1990s and Plant, for one, was delighted. The orchestral arrangements of those Led Zep numbers seemed to have a direct influence on some of the eastern-flavored reworkings of Zep songs on the "Unledded" album. During that 1994-95 tour, Page&Plant even had designated spots for bootleggers to set up their equipment, much as jam bands such as moe. do today. As the most bootlegged band in Britain, it's arguable that tapes of the band's legendary live shows only added to their legend and mystique and must-see status.

But that's all changed now, it seems. Earlier this year, Jimmy Page appeared as star witness in a case against a Scottish bootlegger. It's hard to tell whether the band members are OK with amateur bootleggers making recordings for themselves or whether the Zep camp is irked by the professional bootleggers -- the one's that package their CDs and DVDs with handsome packaging, but for a price -- because they're making money off the band's work. The YouTube debacle may signal little tolerance for the amateur set, which is a shame since they're the one's likely to be doing it all for fun, rather than profit. And they're the one's buying all the reissues, going to the concerts, and generally carrying the torch for Led Zeppelin as evangelists for its legacy.

On a lighter note, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss have announced their first tour dates, here.

And, in other news, Rolling Stone's David Fricke, a Zep aficionado, offers the most compelling review of the show I've seen yet. And here's a song-by-song critique by Kevin Shirley, engineer remaster of "How the West Was Won" and the reissue of "The Song Remains the Same." Dave Grohl, "the nicest man in rock" and would-be drummer behind Page, Plant, and Jones, salutes Jason Bonham, here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Rebuilding the 'Stairway to Heaven'

An acquaintance on a chat forum had this verdict about tonight's Led Zeppelin reunion show: "I can honestly say it was the single best gig that I have ever attended in my life! Led Zep really delivered the goods and played for about 2 hours!" How was Plant's voice, I asked. "I was a bit unsure as he avoided the high notes in the first couple of songs. However once he warmed up he was hitting every note the same as he did at their peak."

By all accounts, a sensational gig. And, though the setlist excluded any acoustic numbers or "Achilles Last Stand," it did include the live debut of "For Your Life," one of their finest achievements with one of Page's greatest solos.


Good Times Bad Times
Ramble On
Black Dog
In My Time Of Dying
For Your Life
Trampled Underfoot
Nobodys Fault But Mine
No Quarter
Since I've Been Loving You
Dazed and Confused
Stairway To Heaven
The Song Remains The Same
Misty Mountain Hop
Whole Lotta Love
Rock And Roll

Some great reviews coming in from The Guardian, The Times , The Daily Telegraph, and the NME, too. The few clips that are beginning to surface on the Net sound pretty phenomenal even with the muddy sound and grainy footage of a camera phone.

Check out these photo links ( 1, 2, 3) to see which celebs attended the show. Basically, apart from a few musicians who would appreciate the music (Crowded House, Jeff Beck, Dave Grohl, David Gilmour, etc.) it's just a "People" magazine spread full of celebrities with the right connections. I defy Paris Hilton to name a Led Zep song beyond "Stairway." I coulda had her seat... grrrr

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Atonement vs. Atonement

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the heavyweight championship of two worlds. In the left corner we have "Atonement," a literary classic that climaxes with a clobbering left-of-field hook. In the right corner, we have the top-ranked fighter in the Oscar division thanks to its upper-class cut. If these two contenders were equally matched, it would end in a clinch. But as the ref, I'm calling this bout a knockout for Ian McEwan's book in the second round.

Director Joe Wright's film is the work of an assured filmmaker, but this adaptation falls short of its source material in its second half. Without giving away the plot, the book hinges on the naive assertion made by a 13-year-old girl, Briony Thallis, that leads to the imprisonement of a young man named Robbie Turner in 1936. The film's account of these events is stellar. But once it time shifts to the second World War, when Robbie has been freed to fight for England, and Briony takes up work in a military hospital ward, the script scissors its way through McEwan's text, cutting to the quick -- and, in so doing, cutting out the heart of the novel.

The book chronicles the long, desperate slog across the north of France during the British retreat of 1940, each stage of the journey plunging into concentric circles of Miltonesque hell as Robbie and his two fellow soldiers encounter horrific scenes of war. McEwan had done meticulous homework to chronicle what happened prior to the evacuation of Dunkirk and it leaves a searing impression on the reader. That section of the novel also tells us more about Robbie's mental anguish and it brings home the full magnitude of what he encounters as a soldier. The reader can almost hear the sobbing cries of blistered heels as they tear up at each footfall. By contrast, the film pretty much cuts out the journey and quickly brings Robbie to the beach where thousands of soldiers await evacuation.

Similarly, the author details the boot camp-like rigor and hardship that Briony endures as a nurse -- her self-conscious act of atonement for her sin at age 13. And so, by failing to capture the full measure and impact of both characters' respective experiences, the film inadequately prepares the viewer for the final rug-pull in the Third Act, set in 1999. There's an act of contrition, but it doesn't feel fully earned by the 123 minute mark. Indeed, there's far too little of Briony in the movie because of the inordinate focus on Briony's sister, Cecilia (perhaps because the role is played by Keira Knightley, the film's sole marquee name, who gets to wear exquisite, waifer-thin costumes.)

Much has been made of the movie's four-minute tracking shot across Dunkirk -- one reliant on the precise choreography of a cast of thousands. Contrast this scene with the uninterrupted camera shot in a battle zone in last year's magnificent "Children of Men." There, the shot pulls the viewer deeper into the moment and quickens the pulse. It's entirely organic to the scene and it's only after the film that one even registers that director Alfonso Cuarón and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki pulled off a continuous shot that outshines even the camera flourish at the beginning of Orson Welles's "Touch of Evil." But in "Atonement," the shot feels so self-conscious that it pulls one out of the movie.

Finally, when Brenda Blethyn started attacking a car with an umbrella during a scene in "Atonement," I couldn't help but think of this infamous moment in 2007 taloid news...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Houses of the Holy Christmas

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
A copy of Physical Graffiti.

Yep, `tis the season for ... all things Led Zeppelin. (Santa has yet to bring me an early Christmas present of concert tickets to the reunion concert, however. Bah, humbug!)

The surviving trio is on the cover of the new Rolling Stone with a piece written by legendary rock critic David Fricke (who also penned the liner notes of "Mothership"). The RS website has an excerpt from the article, which includes details about some of the songs played at the first rehearsal. There are also Led Zeppelin cover stories in the new Mojo, Guitar World, and Classic Rock magazines.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Coldplaying Coldplay

Since Coldplay is close to finishing up its new album, produced by Brian Eno, I decided to reevaluate the band’s third album, “X&Y,” during a recent car trip. It’s still a bloated affair: overly long and Hugh Padgham-like production. The band seemed unsure of how to evolve the way that they'd managed to do during the lunar-stride leap from "Parachutes" to "Rush of Blood to the Head." Musically, "X&Y" finds Coldplay arcing in a creative cul de sac with no choice but to circle back on familiar-sounding constructions and motifs. The dreadful cover looks like a screen grab of a Tetris game that's all but over.

But once I’d brushed aside poor-to-middling songs such as “The Hardest Part” and “Swallowed by the Sea,” I was pleased to reacquaint myself with “Talk” and “Square One.” Moreover, I can confidently declare “Low” – with its euphoric climax swooping in, cavalry-like, at the last minute – to be the greatest achievement of the band’s young career. A concert highlight, too. But the real rediscovery for me was “Twisted Logic,” the final song (if you don't include the faux Cash country tune, "Til Kingdom Come," tacked on as a hidden track). Here, Johnny Buckland's guitar becomes jaggedly majestic, taking on all comers, going out like Tony Montana in a six-string firestorm.

The best moments of "X&Y" remind me why I fell for this band 7 years ago and I trust that Eno will do for them what he did for U2 following that group's similar "Rattle and Hum" debacle. Promisingly, the band states that this next album will be a disciplined 42 minutes and, they declare, "As you'd expect with Brian Eno, there's experimentation and exploration. But the music still has integrity. It's real and honest. There's no posturing or bombast."

P.S. Photo of Coldplay in Barcelona courtesy of Fibrcool over at Flickr's Creative Commons area.

"I'm Not Here": A Dylan jigsaw puzzle

The most conventional aspect of "I'm Not Here," Todd Haynes's cubist biopic of Bob Dylan, is that the iconic songwriter is portrayed by 6 different actors, including Cate Blanchett and African-American child actor Marcus Carl Franklin. After that it gets really far out. The kid version of Dylan gets swallowed by a whale that's swum straight out of Melville's pages; the older, "John Wesley Harding" era Dylan lives as an outlaw in his own Western wherein horses roam alongside a giraffe; and the mid-’60s Dylan, imposterishly played by Blanchett with a tangled bouquet of hair and cheekbone shadows even darker than Dylan’s hideaway sunglasses, floats up into the sky as dangerously as the key tethered to Ben Franklin’s kite. All of which is to say that “I’m Not There” is a visually astonishing film.

The point of it all? To convey the idea that Dylan, portrayed here mostly as a self-centered snot, had to keep reinventing himself because he wearied of the pidgeonholing and expectation and labeling thrust upon him. Though his music became the rallying cry of counterculture discontent, he was uncomfortable with the mantle of folk-music messiah. He was the anti-Bono.

That's still as true today as it was then. Whenever Dylan does something blatantly commercial, such as appearing in a Victoria's Secret ad or hawking his music in a car ad, commentators get into a snit about how he's sold out to The Man in a betrayal of '60s ideals. (The man has been called Judas more than a few times.) A more striking example of how others expect the man formerly known as Robert Zimmerman to conform to a certain ideal emerges from the following exchange between hippie-spirited Jann S. Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone, and Dylan in an RS interview earlier this year:

Wenner: What do you think of the historical moment we’re in today? We seem to be hellbent on destruction. Do you worry about global warming?

Dylan: Where’s the global warming? It’s freezing here.

Wenner: It seems a pretty frightening outlook.

Dylan: I think what you’re driving at, though, is we expect politicians to solve all our problems. I don’t expect politicians to solve anybody’s problems.

Wenner: Who is going to solve them?

Dylan: Our own selves. We’ve got to take the world by the horns and solve our own problems. The world owes us nothing, each and every one of us, the world owes us not one single thing. Politicans or whoever.

As prickly and mumbly and obtuse as Bob can be, he does open up eloquently on "No Direction Home," the comprehensive Martin Scorcese directed documentary on Dylan, which is a great companion piece to "I'm Not There."

In "I'm Not There," some of Dylan’s greatest songs, including “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Simple Twist of Fate,” get their own appropriate montages. Most of the music is comprised of Dylan originals, but a few cuts from the stellar accompanying soundtrack of interpretations by 30 or so artists are included, too. The best of these appears in the Western sequence (featuring Richard Gere as Dylan) when My Morning Jacket’s Jim James stands in a town-square gazebo and sings “Goin' to Acapulco.”

The movie’s website has a nifty feature: You can send someone a message inscribed on the “Subterranean Homesick Blues” cue cards as flipped through by Dylan.

P.S. That appropo photo courtesy of Geeenta's photos on Flickr in the creative commons area.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Kate Bush's sensual world

She's my favorite female singer but, alas, Kate Bush is about as prolific as Harper Lee. So any new material by her is an event unto itself. Released Dec. 8, the song "Lyra" was written for the end-credits of "The Golden Compass." Though the song is neither musically complex nor melodically compelling, Kate makes it sound as intimate as a confession in an empty cathedral. Lovely. You can hear its radio debut on BBC Radio 6 by going here, and ffwd-ing to 44 minutes and 22 seconds in to the show.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Great remix of Radiohead's version of Björk's "Unravel," which Thom Yorke once named his favorite song, here.

(If you haven't already heard these two singers duet on "I've Seen It All" from Björk's "Dancer in the Dark" soundtrack, go here.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Led Zep(again)

I have been so engrossed in watching and listening to the re-released version of Led Zeppelin's "The Song Remains The Same" over the past few weeks that I've not even listened to my review copy of "Mothership." I'd assumed that the mixes were exactly the same as the 1990 Remasters. After reading this fascinating article in The Times about how the songs have been overhauled yet again, I can't wait to listen to it. And if that isn't enough of a recommendation, here's Dave Grohl's take on it.

The reissue of "The Song Remains the Same" has accomplished the impossible: It has turned a once average album into a sonic delight. Prior to now it was an album I seldom listened to (apart from the occasional dip into my favorite version of "No Quarter") but I am impressed with the sound of the reissue as well as the premium-grade new tracks. I haven't done a comparison with the original, but I don't remember it having as much detail and nuance and vibrancy. It sounds like an entirely different record now.

The new additions are great. I'm not a fan of most live versions of "Over the Hills and Far Away" because of the way that Robert Plant sings the chorus in a different key from the original but, that said, Jimmy Page's guitar solo will tie air guitarists' fingers into knots (interesting to compare this improvized solo with the different, shorter, one from another night that appears in the movie). "Since I've Been Loving You," which is on the DVD, is an incredible version – one of the best Zep performances ever. And "The Ocean," with a riff that could split the atom, even surpasses the studio recording in terms of swagger and sheer manic nirvana. Fantastic fluid solo by Jimmy in "Heartbreaker," too.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Deplete Mode

Depeche Mode has experienced more trials and tribulations than most bands. The surprise departure of keyboardist Alan Wilder. Vocalist Dave Gahan's heroin addiction and near-death overdose. And, most of all, songwriter Martin Gore's pechant for vamping on stage in mohawk headgear, S&M leather, suspenders, and a pair of angel wings that look daft even on half-naked Victoria's Secret models.

For all that, they've made some pretty terrific music -- except for lately. The band's last good album was "Ultra," and that was 10 years ago. The albums since then, "Exciter" and "Playing the Angel," have each boasted just one or two good tunes. On the plus side of that ledger, Gahan has become a more soulful vocalist over those two records -- a post-addiction clarity. So I was hoping that he'd been hoarding all the best tunes for his own second solo album, "Hourglass." Sadly, that's hardly the case (my review, here). But I'm rooting for the boys when they return with a new record in 2008. Because they were doing what The Killers do when Brandon Flowers was still in his pram. And they do it better.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No media hoopla for Jesca

Is it too soon to call singers such as Feist, Bats for Lashes, Joanna Newsom, Siohan Donaghy, and Laura Veers and Saltbreakers a movement? These artists seem to be taking their musical cues from Kate Bush and Bjork, using their otherworldly voices to venture into mystical, avant realms.

Of all these new female artists, Jesca Hoop (above) seems to have attracted the least attention even though her artistry towers above all the other new kittens on the block. "Kismet" is one of the year's best records and my most precious find of 2007 (my review here). Hoop's fortunes could change overnight if someone would just teach her a cute dance move and film it for an iPod ad.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss: whole lot to love

Here's my review of "Raising Sand" by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, one of the best records of the year. (Released Oct. 23.) The album title, incidentally, seems to have been lifted from the lyrics of "Freedom Fries," a track on Plant's 2005 "Mighty Rearranger" album.

Deflating those Led Zeppelin rumors

Here's a fascinating interview with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones on how the Zep reunion came to fruition – and a few coy bombshell hints about the trio's future beyond the show. But I wonder whether this is all wishful thinking on Page's part.

When I interviewed Robert Plant a few years ago, he reiterated the philosophy that has guided most of his career: Keep Looking Forward. As Plant told BBC radio recently, the Zep gig is a one-off. It's a chance to pay tribute to mentor Ahmet Ertegun. And an opportunity to banish memories of the remaining trio's disastrous reunions at 1985's Live Aid and the 1988 Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary bash. (Zep trivia: A further reunion took place in 1995 for Zeppelin's induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame -- that barely rehearsed performance, featuring guests Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and Neil Young, was pretty good. The trio has also reformed for two other private shows: Carmen Plant's 21st birthday and Jason Bonham's wedding.)

Plant's dance card also seems to be full for the foreseeable future. The singer is due to tour with Alison Krauss in support of their superb "Raising Sand" album next year. Moreover, having toured with his band, Strange Sensation, in Europe this summer, Plant is already looking ahead to the followup to "Mighty Rearranger" (one of my favorite albums in recent years and Plant's second-best solo album after 1993's "Fate of Nations"). In December, goldie locks told Rolling Stone that he gave each member of Strange Sensation a list of song titles for the next album and told them to go write music for each one. (Plant has always been a little slow at coming up with lyrics.)

For those readers in the US, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will be on The Today Show on Wednesday Oct. 24 and they are also scheduled for The Charlie Rose Show on PBS, too, though the run date of that interview hasn't been announced.

Radiohead's "Rainbows" of multihued sound

To date, Radiohead's "In Rainbows" has generated so much electronic ink that album-related search terms probably now have their very own server farm over at Google. Radiohead's long-awaited followup to 2003's "Hail to The Thief" has eclipsed even Madonna's deal with Live Nation. (Madge only attracts major attention when she scoops up orphans from Africa.)

When I saw Radiohead at Boston's waterside pavillion during a good, if unevenly paced, set last year they previewed much of the then-unrecorded album, including "15 Step," "Nude," "Videotape," "House of Cards," "Arpeggi," and the soon-to-be released "Bangers 'n' Mash." So how did the resulting album turn out? Here's my review of "In Rainbows," which ran Friday 12.

Chalk up another success for PJ Harvey

I approached the new PJ Harvey album with some trepidation after reading a poor reviews of it in USA TODAY and Entertainment Weekly. I love "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea" and "Uh Huh Her" as well as the best parts of "Is This Desire?" But on "White Chalk," she sings the songs in a child's voice falsetto and most of the songs are just voice + piano. Subjects range from having an abortion to murder-ballad slashery with lyrics such as, "Hit her with a hammer/ teeth smashed in/ red tongue's twitching/ look inside her skeleton." Even Harvey's old paramour, Nick Cave, might blanch at that imagery -- and he writes this stuff as his day job while sitting in his office in customary business-suit attire.

It's certainly not an album to recommend to PJ newbies, then. Or one to play for Dido fans. That said, if initial impressions are anything to go by, then this'll place in my top 10 albums of 2007. I love how she's once again pushed forward as an artist rather than opting to repeat herself.

The album comes with a curfew: Play it after dawn and it loses its power. This is music for the unearthly hours of the morning. This stark, stripped-down album sounds as if it was recorded in an abandoned mental asylum and it is more quietly terrifying than Bass Communion's "Ghosts on Magnetic Tape." It's PJ's sheer emotional intimacy that is so unsettling. And yet distressingly beautiful. Quite a few lovely, if unconventional, melodies on the album, actually, and "Silence" is one of the best songs Polly Jean's ever written. The ending, where she multitracks her voice into a spectral choir, is gorgeous. Looking forward to further midnight visits with this record.