Record Reviews Music




From topless indie pin-up to tormented folk mythologist, cult pop monarch Polly Jean Harvey has long exposed and scrutinised the predicaments of

the human condition.

She’s populated copious roles over her swaggering, nigh-on 20-year career: doggedly androgynous rock provocateur (1992’s Dry); bile-addled feminist recalcitrant (1993‘s Rid of Me); hammed-up, blues-lubed pageant vamp (1995’s To Bring You My Love); Mercury-winning household name (2000's Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea); and myriad

masquerades hence.

Beneath these deviant sub-cultural veneers, however - and amidst an aesthetic that thrives on murder balladry, bucolic histrionics and cadaverous vernacular - there’s an often overlooked Ieitmotif that imbues the Dorset popster's muse: that is to say, she likes a laugh.

Said conviviality has rarely been more evident - or entertaining than on A Woman A Man Walked By: Harvey’s second album in cahoots with enduring collaborator and co-producer John Parish. The tumultuous axe rapture of opening track ‘Black Hearted Love’ initiates a darkly comic (yet frequently poignant) assault of colossal riffage, ukulele freak-outs, mangy

soul and brawny R8iB.

It variously witnesses our stirring protagonist excogitate the joys of offal (the epically deranged title track); imitate Macy Gray (the porch-swing dirge of ‘April’); and, best of all, bark like a dog (the ludicrous, grunge-

pillaging ‘Pig Will Not’).

If such aberrant revelry is at odds with the luminous rigour of 2007‘s White Chalk - an album hailed as Harvey’s finest to date - it's testament to her relentless inventiveness: dismembering guises; defiling confines; violating the knackered rock canon. And what do you know: she’s smiling.

(Nicola Meighan)

this collection Simply reeks of his Celtic roots. From the hauntingly glorious ‘Songbird' and ‘Frozen Lake' to the desperately plodding ‘BlaCk Mountain Quarry“ and 'The Nightwatchman. the mix is almost. but not ourte right. (Brian Donaldson)


THE ANSWER Everyday Demons (Albert Productions) 0.

Northern Irish four-piece The Answer were hand- picked by AC DC as

Support for their current

Black lce world tour. surely one of the greatest honours in rock. Live they tear it up and you can imagine the whole crowd reaching for their air guitars. But on record they mine every old school rock cliche in the book With Such devotion to their


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influences they forget to inject any of themselves into their songs. even though every track on here is brand spanking new they sound like a (admittedly very goodi Led ZBDD’ROHIHQ Stones ”AerosmithThin Lizzy covers band. iHenry Nonhmore)



The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (FOrtuna Pop) 0...

If My Bloody Valentine and Belle and Sebastian


ill/rub? I er rett. grotesiiae kind ‘Tffe mites Biit 'ei kt their rriiisiva‘ oiitpoi.rir‘gs xiii sound a lot like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and {>()\,, would they be able to sing ‘rir their 5;.ipper, lhe NYC foursomes :leliut is a dream» listen from the get go. as infectious opener ‘(Zontender' hiasts down the door to a \eritahle Aladdin's cave of scuffed riffs. soaring melodies and Winsome lioy girl vocals. And unlike the majority of toi lays (38(3 aficionados. it nexer becomes irritatingly twee ~ the thundering rhythms and relentless hasslines put pay to that. In the right hands. stroppy pop can he a truly glorious thing indeed. (Camilla Piai

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THE MARTIN GREEN MACHINE First Sighting (NaVigatorl 00.

Accordionist Martin Green unleashed the Green Machine as a New Voices commission at Celtic Connections in 2006. With guitarist Tom Cook as his principal co-collaborator. and a powerful band Willing and able to take on his iconoclastic Vision. I remember being very enthUSiastic about the live premiere on that occasron. but have to record a slight sense of disappomtment at this subseouent studio recording.

Perhaps it’s the loss of the immediacy and adventure that went with the live Situation. Or it may be that the vocals ilnge Thomson and Sophie Bancroft share the Singing) and spoken elements seem rather

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E,,'iicll1t)’viisir;.. SMOOVE AND TURRELL Antique Soul itlalapenii Reid ”()f‘.‘ 0...

Soul is one musical genre constant Judged less by its actual (illilflf‘, and more fry its supposed authenticity. which. as anyone .‘Jith ears knows. is the surest way to find yourself down a musical blind alley. So when someone like this pair of Geordie scamps show up. unafraid to mix contemporary electronic grind With old school bump to gleeful effect. it upsets the apple cart Unpretentious and Joyful. the duos love of northern soul and deep. itchy funk shine through and Turrell's thick Paul Wellerresgue vocal lines are the perfect compliment: measured. deep and hewrtchrng. It may say ‘antigue' on in the cover but this is far from a relic. it's a retro future party music of the highest order,

(Mark Bohertsonr


Yes (Parlophonei COO.


Everything that's ace ab0ut the Pet Shop Boys is here.

Sure. the electrOnic voyagers' ingenious pop template has been

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.l/‘K... . BIG AIR Big Air

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An inspired iteliiit fri irn this flilll‘iilifilllill aggregation, although one that has been a while in the making. Big Air features 1 ondon liased trumpeter (Lhris Hatchelor and

fSift‘M: Buckley With Americans Myra Melford on piano rand harmoniurni and .Jim Black on drums. plus tuiia player ()rari Marshall. lheycarni: together lfllfiilff/ for a tour hack in YUM, so it

has been a iong wait

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With only occasional fl'Jf.‘ perforriiancesi for this disc.

lhe compositions are all by either Batchelor or Buckley. but their realisation is very much a collaborative affair. There l‘, a frer;~\r/lii;e!irig_ free iaz/ feel to much of the music. but also a great deal of disciplined interaction and a very definite sense of purpose and direction, There are no passengers here ~ all five players make telling contributions to what is already shaping up to be one of the most engaging. exuberant and inventive albums of the year. lKenny Mathiesoni

'i: Mare? Arr XL": THE LIST 65