By Victoria Birch
1. PJ Harvey Although the web is jammed full of glorious footage of Polly Jean resplendent in witchy Paganesque garb, for me this moment sums up why Let England Shake is phenomenal. The clip is like the scene from MacBeth when the hags prophesise that the future king of Scotland’s reign is likely to be a bit problematic. The levity of the autoharp, the glossy black headgear and Polly dancing on Gordon Brown’s political grave as she tells him England needs to pay for its sins with his head. Marvellous.
2. Bill Callahan I’d had a really, really bad day. Really bad. ‘The Drover’ started and I wouldn’t let it stop … couldn’t let it stop. Over and over. The metaphorical herd thundering down and burying all in its path gave my suburban issues all the melodrama they needed. The roughhouse recording complete with ticks and imperfections and Callahan’s voice, sonorous and burdened.
3. Spritualized at Sydney Opera House Nearly 15 years ago my brother and I were pinioned against the barrier at the front of the Royal Albert Hall, agog as a slight, somewhat delirious man to our right tried to fight his way into a speaker. Sheer bloody noise crashed around our young (ish) ears: gospel, brassy squalls, squealing feedback and the crushing, overwhelming feeling we couldn’t breathe. In May 2011, Jason Pierce brought a revised Spiritualized to Sydney’s Opera House to play Ladies And Gentlemen … in its entirety. I was gutted to be overseas. My brother told me Pierce sent an unrelenting battalion of strobes into the audience and smacked everyone around the head for over two hours. I was happy to hear that.
4. Les Savy Fav at Sydney’s Laneway Festival (see featured image) I swore I wouldn’t debase myself by letting the fat man rub his sweaty middle-aged torso in my face ever again. But I can never resist. Like Lady Gaga but with less money, fewer inhibitions and more middle-age, Tim Harrington is the anti-Will Oldham and never ceases to make me squeal like a seven-year-old being tickled by a particularly hairy (and inappropriate) uncle. I did try and maintain a thin veil of “Mr Harrington, I’ve seen it all before and I’m very much over this art-school cabaret” … but then my sense of humour got the better of me.
5. True Grit trailer When I finally got around to watching the film I did love it … but it never managed to stir me quite like the trailer. The cut and thrust of blades, the heavy smack of gunshot and Johnny Cash bringing about the virtuous end to the unvirtuous.
6. Lucy Cage I Love Lucy. Never just a review. Always a gorgeous, sensual, philosophical account of why music is so fucking important.
(I tried to pick just one but why have just one?)