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Anna von Hausswolff gives me chills

Anna von Hausswolff gives me chills

I’ve read reviews of Anna von Hausswolff’s previous albums in print magazines and online, but I had never bought any of her music. Then I read a four-star review of her new album, Dead Magic, in the April issue of MOJO Magazine where James McNair described her vocal performance for the song “The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra” as “…astonishing. With its whoops, shudders and sandpaper-throated expulsions, her singing sounds like an exorcism”. Okay then, tell me more! McNair describes where and how the album was created:

Recorded in nine days, largely using the hulking 20th century pipe-organ at Copenhagen’s Marmorkirken, or Marble Church, …With it’s spidery strings, drones, suspensions and drama-rich support from Hausswolff’s five-piece backing band, Dead Magic comes on like a horror soundtrack-in-waiting, its 47-minute journey bridged by just five songs. Thematically, it’s big on myths, legends and oblivion, and the darker more esoteric kind of magic you wouldn’t likely associate with Ali Bongo.

( I didn’t know who Ali Bongo was either.)

After reading the MOJO review, I searched around and found this article by Laura Snapes in The Guardian.

Never mind other people’s perceptions; she’s more perplexed by her reaction to her own music. “When I start becoming ugly, or raw or unfiltered, that’s also when the most interesting things happen,” she says. “But I feel shame because that’s not how you’re supposed to present yourself as a female. I’m quite a modern girl – and luckily in Sweden we have a very open mind towards women in arts – but I still get that feeling that I’m in a place I shouldn’t be, doing things you really shouldn’t do, like I’m fighting the ideals projected down from our ancestors.”

The paucity of women in extreme music means these stereotypes are even tougher to break: “They have to defend what they’re doing so hard because they’re in a male-dominated genre, so there’s more focus on them being female than on their work. It’s still weird for people to see someone screaming her nuts out, playing loud music. I think, how can it be shocking any more? We still haven’t broken down our idea of how the genders should be.” Old, male pipe organ custodians just about manage to avoid patting her on the head when they show her around their instruments. “Usually I just smile and let the music speak for itself, and then afterwards they’re always shocked and don’t know what to say any more.”

And then I watched this video, and you should too, like right now.

And then I bought the album.

It’s right in my wheelhouse. It’s like P.J. Harvey circa To Bring You My Love melded with Nick Cave’s Let Love In, Richard Wagner’s organ music, and the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. It gave me chills and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Buy it now and play it LOUD!

Nick Cave’s Christ-Like Sacrifice for The Bad Seeds

Nick Cave’s Christ-Like Sacrifice for The Bad Seeds

Nick Cave stopped drinking about ten years ago. Here’s what he has to say about his commitment to sobriety during an interview by Tom Doyle in the February 2014 issue of MOJO Magazine:

Our car pulls up outside the Malmaison Hotel, where Cave sits alone at the base of a stone pillar, smoking a fag. MOJO joins him for one. It must be hard, I say, trying to maintain his sobriety while everyone around him gets pissed?

“It is sometimes,” he admits. “I mean, sometimes you just want everything to go away, y’know. Who doesn’t? And you don’t have that…ready sort of access to something to do that.”

His face suddenly lights up, as he’s struck by a thought.

“Y’know, I did a kind of Christ-like sacrifice for the health of the band,” he says. “I stopped drinking, so they could continue.”

Nick Cave just says No.
photo by Tom Oldham for MOJO Magazine

PJ Harvey is no Bullshit

PJ Harvey is no Bullshit

According to Tricky:

Name me an artist as good as Polly Harvey now. Polly is one of the best artists we’ve got and she’s not a pop star. She’s no bullshit and that’s why she can make incredible music. The reason I don’t want bullshit is I wanna be a PJ Harvey. – Tricky, MOJO Magazine, July 2013.

I agree.

And I don’t know what’s up with the editor of MOJO, but this quote continues with “I don’t wanna be in the” and stops. I’d like to know what Tricky doesn’t want to be in, and you probably do too. So MOJO and Tricky, if you happen to land here, how does that end?

P.J. Harvey takes top honors in England for “Let England Shake”

P.J. Harvey takes top honors in England for “Let England Shake”

In September, P.J. Harvey took home the 2011 Mercury Prize awarded for the best British album, Let England Shake.

This week the monthly English music magazines, MOJO and Uncut, released their lists of the top 50 albums of the year. Let England Shake topped both lists.

Uncut Top 10

  1. P.J. Harvey – Let England Shake
  2. Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest
  3. Metronomy – The English Riviera
  4. White Denim – D
  5. Josh T. Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen
  6. The Horrors – Skying xl
  7. Radiohead – The King of Limbs
  8. Wild Beasts – Smother
  9. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
  10. The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient

MOJO Top 10

  1. P.J. Harvey  – Let England Shake
  2. The Horrors – Skying xl
  3. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
  4. Jonathan Wilson – Gentle Spirit
  5. Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow
  6. White Denim – D
  7. Josh T. Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen
  8. Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
  9. Tom Waits – Bad as Me
  10. Wild Beasts – Smother

I’ll leave it to Spider Stacy of the Pogues to describe the importance of P.J. Harvey’s music. Here’s an excerpt from the the feature article about her in Uncut:

I am beyond flattered that she should have been listening to us while making a record of such beauty as Let England Shake. There is no one else like her. She’s peerless, one of the very few contemporary artists in any discipline whose clarity and profundity of vision have sharpened and deepened over the years to a point where she now seems to be working in a field defined only  by herself. Her empathy, her erudition, the sense of connection between blood and clay and the bones and roots of the world echo something that could so nearly be lost, but is always somewhere to be found, hovering in the air or lying in the soil  below us: the dark red life of these rainy islands.

With that said, I’ll leave you with a video to one of the songs off the award winning album.

Vote for the Best Music of 2010

Vote for the Best Music of 2010

Now that you’ve read my list of best music of 2010, you are probably thinking of your own favorites.  If you want to vote for your favorites, well you can’t do that here, because we suck at polls.  But, you can go to several other places.

Start with KEXP.  You can vote for your top five.  Before voting, you might want to check out the DJ favorites.  I did, and I was puzzled by one list in particular.  Don Slack hosts the “Swingin’ Doors” shows on Thursday nights.  He plays mostly old and new country music (the good kind of country music) so I was very surprised to see the number-one pick on his top -ten list was Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  Really?  Kanye?  Don, if you read this post, please explain.  Anyway, go to the KEXP site and cast your votes.

NPR also has a poll, and you can pick ten favorites for their poll.

No Depression has a poll too, and you can pick TWENTY.  That’s a lot.  Go and vote for ALL your favorites.

You can vote in several categories like best album, artist, reissue, etc. in the annual MOJO Magazine Reader’s Poll.

Spin Magazine has a similar poll on its website.