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Classical - Released July 3, 2015 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Classical - Released September 3, 2012 | naïve classique

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Jazz - Released June 1, 2012 | ESP-Disk

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Chamber Music - Released May 15, 2012 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Electronic - Released March 12, 2012 | 4AD

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Classical - Released January 1, 2012 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Classical - Released January 1, 2012 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Blues - Released April 22, 2011 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions Choc de Classica - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Pop - Released March 13, 2011 | Proper Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2011 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks - Stereophile: Record To Die For - Lauréat du Mercury Prize
PJ Harvey followed her ghostly collection of ballads, White Chalk, with Let England Shake, an album strikingly different from what came before it except in its Englishness. White Chalk's haunted piano ballads seemed to emanate from an isolated manse on a moor, but here Harvey chronicles her relationship with her homeland through songs revolving around war. Throughout the album, she subverts the concept of the anthem -- a love song to one's country -- exploring the forces that shape nations and people. This isn't the first time Harvey has been inspired by a place, or even by England: she sang the praises of New York City and her home county of Dorset on Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. Harvey recorded this album in Dorset, so the setting couldn't be more personal, or more English. Yet she and her longtime collaborators John Parish, Mick Harvey, and Flood travel to the Turkish battleground of Gallipoli for several of Let England Shake's songs, touching on the disastrous World War I naval strike that left more than 30,000 English soldiers dead. Her musical allusions are just as fascinating and pointed: the title track sets seemingly cavalier lyrics like "Let's head out to the fountain of death and splash about" to a xylophone melody borrowed from the Four Lads' "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," a mischievous echo of the questions of national identity Harvey explores on the rest of the album (that she debuted the song by performing it on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show for then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown just adds to its mischief). "The Words That Maketh Murder" culminates its grisly playground/battleground chant with a nod to Eddie Cochran's anthem for disenfranchised '50s teens "Summertime Blues," while "Written on the Forehead" samples Niney's "Blood and Fire" to equally sorrowful and joyful effect. As conceptually and contextually bold as Let England Shake is, it features some of Harvey's softest-sounding music. She continues to sing in the upper register that made White Chalk so divisive for her fans, but it's tempered by airy production and eclectic arrangements -- fittingly for an album revolving around war, brass is a major motif -- that sometimes disguise how angry and mournful many of these songs are. "The Last Living Rose" recalls Harvey's Dry-era sound in its simplicity and finds weary beauty even in her homeland's "grey, damp filthiness of ages," but on "England," she wails, "You leave a taste/A bitter one." In its own way, Let England Shake may be even more singular and unsettling than White Chalk was, and its complexities make it one of Harvey's most powerful works. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2011 | Proprius

Hi-Res Distinctions Exceptional Sound Recording - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Pop - Released January 1, 2011 | Interscope

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
Not long into the ceaseless promotional parade for Born This Way, Lady Gaga’s second full-length record and easily the most anticipated record of the 2010s, a certain sense of inevitability crept into play. It was inevitable that Born This Way would be an escalation of The Fame, it was inevitable that Gaga would go where others feared to tread, it was inevitable that it would be bigger than any other record thrown down in 2011, both in its scale and success. This drumbeat, pulsating as insistently as Eurodisco, is so persistent that there is an inevitable feeling of anticlimax upon hearing Born This Way for the first time and realizing that Lady Gaga has channeled her grand ambitions into her message, and not her music. Gaga has taken it upon herself to filter out whatever personal details remain in her songs so she can write anthems for her Little Monsters, that ragtag group of queers, misfits, outcasts, and rough kids who she calls her own. Gaga is hardly insincere -- this isn’t an act, she’s been instrumental as a gay rights activist -- but her conquistador stance ironically reduces Born This Way to a collection of songs about fashion, freaks, and religion, with the occasional respite arriving via German unicorns. Unfortunately, this doesn’t play quite as weird as it reads. Whatever performance art shock Gaga had on The Fame/The Fame Monster has turned into pure theater. Her drama club ambition to marry rock & roll rebellion with her disco beats turns Born This Way into Like a Prayer by way of Bat Out of Hell. Gaga has chosen not to dig under the skin. She’s quite content to state her themes then let them be, using them as the connecting thread on an ‘80s pastiche set to a relentless Eurotrash throb. Echoes of Whitney Houston, Pat Benatar, and Bruce Springsteen -- whose longtime running partner Clarence Clemons blows sax on two songs --- can be heard throughout, but it is naturally Madonna who is the cornerstone, giving Gaga the “Express Yourself” melody -- which is reworked on no less than three songs on the Deluxe Edition (and really, with an album this over the top, why skimp with the standard edition?) -- and a pop precedent for Catholic guilt. Lady Gaga doesn’t so much rip off Madonna as knowingly recontextualize the Material Girl for a post-modern collage, the sly similarities offering tangible reminders that Gaga is the heir to the diva throne. And Born This Way does solidify her standing as something of a pop visionary, although Gaga is a little bit too eager to embrace her role as messiah, letting her skills as a songwriter slide ever so slightly. Gaga’s true gift is her considerable dexterity at delivering the basics. Unlike so many of her peers, she does not cut and paste her tracks digitally, she constructs from the chords up, then accessorizes at will. She doesn’t abandon this sensibility on Born This Way, but she does take it for granted, never pushing her compositions or productions into unpredictable territory. She serves up the expected, which can be quite satisfying: “Marry the Night” glistens with a neon pulse, “Born This Way” has a giddiness to its self-importance, “Judas” turns “Alejandro” into towering gothic disco, she achieves her metal-disco fusion on “Bad Kids,” and she even shows vulnerability on “Yoü and I.” All well and good, and all very entertaining, but this is an album that’s meant to be more: it’s intended to be a soundtrack to a way of life, but it winds up playing as a collection of songs. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2011 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions Diapason d'or - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 11, 2010 | Domino Recording Co

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Classica - Sélection Les Inrocks - Stereophile: Record To Die For - Stereophile: Recording of the Month
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Symphonic Music - Released September 27, 2010 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 27, 2010 | Rykodisc

Distinctions 5/6 de Magic - Stereophile: Record To Die For
In the new millennium, the Posies exist as something less than a full-time band and something more than a side project. Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow dedicated themselves to the band whenever other commitments -- i.e., supporting Alex Chilton in Big Star whenever he needed them -- faded into the background. Released in the fall of 2010, roughly six months after Chilton’s unexpected death brought an end to Big Star, Blood/Candy bears the hallmarks of a project that’s tinkered on for a while. It’s not that it’s the work of fussy obsessives, the kind who can’t bear to have a single note out of place, but rather that it was completed track by track, whenever Auer and Stringfellow had the moment to finish a cut. Some of this disparity is deliberate: the duo wanted Blood/Candy to explore some sonic avenues they’ve yet to pursue, so they brought in a few guests (Kay Hanley harmonizes on “The Glitter Prize,” Hugh Cornwell shows up on “Plastic Paperbacks”), adopt a cool, relaxed groove for “Cleopatra Street,” get gently psychedelic on “Accidental Architecture,” turn in a clever little gem on “Holiday Hours,” generally dialing down the guitars to the level they were around the time of Dear 23. Around these slight departures are rushes of power pop that are recognizably the Posies -- bold guitars and hooks sweetened by their harmonies -- but the overall tone is different enough to make Blood/Candy feel like something more than another solid Posies album…albeit only slightly more. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Classical - Released July 30, 2010 | Sony Classical

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Classical - Released July 4, 2010 | Past Classics

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Pop - Released June 21, 2010 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
We haven't heard from Laurie Anderson in eight years -- since her Live at Town Hall NYC recording, cut two weeks after September 11, 2001 -- but that doesn't mean she hasn't been busy. Homeland began as a series of ideas recorded on the road in which she simply sang songs and told various stories about America. Some of them ended up as a concert poem about America that was a logical extension of her United States I-IV project -- and a non-didactic indictment of the Bush administration. The live recordings were combined with basic studio tracks, ending in 25 songs. She eventually ended up with the daunting task of sorting through, editing, and engineering a million audio files. Husband Lou Reed lent fresh ears when they were most needed; he is listed as a co-producer, as is longtime associate Roma Baran. Homeland features appearances from a stellar cast including Tuvan throat singers and igil players of Chirgilchin along with a number of experimental jazz and rock players, including Rob Burger, Omar Hakim, Reed, John Zorn, Kieran Hebden, Shahzad Ismaily, Eyvind Kang, Joey Baron, Peter Scherer, Skuli Sverrisson, Ben Wittman, and Antony Hegarty. Its songs -- whether spoken or sung -- are profoundly musical rather than simply conceptual. They ask questions about what it means to be an American in the 21st century, philosophically and personally, by way of references as diverse as Thomas Paine, Søren Kierkegaard, Aristophanes, and Oprah Winfrey -- and Anderson's wonderful sense of irony. While there isn't a single cut in this dozen that doesn't bear repeated listening, certain ones stand out. The trilogy that begins with "My Right Eye" and continues through "Thinking of You" and "Strange Perfumes" consists of nocturnal, low-key songs haunted by the beauty of Anderson's violin and voice with help from various singers, Kang's viola, Scherer's keyboards, and Burger's various instruments, including accordion. Hegarty assists on the last of these, lending it an ethereal quality. All are lyrical and haunting. "Only an Expert," driven by Hebden's keyboards and Reed's distorted guitar, is a scathing indictment of the rise of focus groups and the nebulous talking heads on television who analyze everything about modern life. The album's true hinge piece, "Another Day in America," employs Anderson's longtime male alter ego Fenway Bergamot. Zorn's bleating alto saxophone adds weight, dimension, and shock value to the lovely "Bodies in Motion." He also appears on "The Beginning of Memory," a song that relates the narrative allegory of a play from Aristophanes. Homeland is literally the most accessible Anderson recording since 1982's Big Science and easily stands among her masterworks. © Thom Jurek /TiVo