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Review: Valhalla Dancehall

Rock may be dead, but indie lives on as a vampire, undead.  There were about a billion good albums released last year in 2010 - with Spotify the problem is the critic and casual geek alike can listen to them all (not) and thereby go overdosed.  Nothing prepared me for Valhalla Dancehall by (ho hum) British Sea Power - a great-monikered band that had the aura of the has-been over them like a fell stink.  Then this, their fourth, arrives in the dead corner of the year with something like kick-ass wow.  Three songs stand out - opener 'Who's In Control', 'Mongk II' and 'Baby'.

The middle of these is the coolest song I have heard in about two decades, it thrusts with the strut of raw post-punk moody rawness, feels too true to be of this mere digital age; the texture crackles with what U2 was with Achtung, Baby! and never again.  The third mentioned is female-voiced and all the better for it, with tom-toms torn from the Foxes and tingling David Lynch lounge-eerie tones that swing it into easy listening gone heroin blue.  I have no idea what occasioned this rise of their power, but these are cadets no more, but admirals.  This is the fleet steaming in from victory.  Will be one of 2011's best albums unless Jesus makes a deal with Apple.


Rodney said…
British Sea Power - another band that visit the Westy every now and again

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With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.