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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Mick Harvey
Two Of Diamonds

Rating: 7/10 ?

August 8, 2007
Mick Harvey is a man with many strings on his lute. Not only is the Australian artist an internationally acclaimed arranger, producer, and soundtrack composer, he's also the co-founder of Nick Cave and The Bad seeds. Harvey's career has been marked by the creation of seminal music, and on his latest solo release Two Of Diamonds, the follow up to 2005's One Man's Treasure, he has assembled a handful of fine songs, from deep in the Australian music archives, to cover and make his own.

A rock album with a lot of blues mixed in, Two Of Diamonds is sad and emotional, just as blues is meant to be. Harvey follows a traditional formula in his arrangements, and by doing so enforces the vision of his professionalism; nearly every aspect of the album is flawlessly produced. Perfection, of course, is a double-edged sword, and just as they gleam the songs are also a little boring. Harvey's clinical compositions leave the album too perfect, with nothing to surprise and little to grab hold of. The whole slippery mess is like an audiotape of the "Sad Rock 101" text book. Harvey's arrangements, always solid, are taken out of the live setting in which they would thrive and sanitized. A great musician and arranger, he delivers a great performance that feels cold and remote.

The overzealous production of Two Of Diamonds might be due to the fact that the songs - old, almost forgotten Australian numbers that otherwise most likely would not have made it outside of Australia - were being interpreted rather than created. The album's opening track, "Photograph" stands out the most in the bunch, penned by Brisbane punk band The Saints member Chris Bailey in 1984 and given an excellent Harvey make over. Evoking a similar mood, Christian Kjellvanders "Portugal" is one of those songs to soundtrack the moments when the world is stacked against you, those times when you've lost your job, your girlfriend left, someone shot your dog - the only friend you had left in this cold and harsh world - and you can't stand country music. Hopefully there aren't too many people out there in such a position, but times like those call for Two Of Diamonds.

Mick Harvey, sans Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, has delivered another very well arranged and produced album that follows his traditional blues-rock formula. Two Of Diamonds will have an obvious appeal to those familiar with Australia's musical past, but it is also worth checking out for fans of Harvey's other work, disciples of polished blues-rock, or anyone in need of an Aussie shoulder to cry on.

Reviewed by Daniel Svanberg
A contributing writer for LAS, Daniel Svanberg now lives in Boston, far far away from Sweden, where he once lived, although the weather is the same.

See other reviews by Daniel Svanberg



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