Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-05-06

2011-05-06

An Horse: Walls (Mom + Pop, 2011) "You get up when I go to sleep/But that's just me and geography," expostulates Aussie expat Kate Cooper, who's now migrated to Montreal, at Aussie pat Damon Cox, currently situated in Melbourne, and to cover the distance she strums furiously as he barrages his kit. First emailed across the seas, then finalized in Vancouver, their music is to pop as hardcore is to punk, with the Joey Ramone fillip of Cooper's bizarre pronunciation. Search me whether they really say "Yaw hawt it seems just foine" down Brisbane way. Believe me when I say it's a hook even if they don't. B+

PJ Harvey: Let England Shake (Vagrant, 2011) Polly Jean Harvey was major when she meant to shake the world, a life project she gave up on after releasing her finest album in 2000--much of it set, as must be mere coincidence, in New York City. Creating a suite of well-turned if unnecessarily understated antiwar songs, she's a gifted, strong-willed minor artist bent on shaking England in particular. How much that work enriches anyone's understanding of World War I is open to a debate too niggling to pursue. What's certain is that her special interest in the Great War reflects the changing contours of her chosen chauvinism no less than her evolution from the rough-hewn Howlin Wolf she absorbed in downhome Dorsetshire toward the dulcet clarity of Lancashire's prog-folk Annie Haslam. "I live and die/through England/I live and die/through England"? You said it, lady--twice. B+

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