Bright Eyes - "The People's Key" (5.0 of 10) - It would be too easy for me to rip on Connor Oberst, so I will take a deep breath. A more "mature" and "accessible" Bright Eyes is on display here. The whining of earlier works are replaced on this album with (apparently) a wiser, more vulnerable outlook. He tries to go more up-tempo on most of the tracks, and that is appreciated, but his lyrics just don't connect as he crams together all sorts of metaphors and cliches that sound impressive enough, but I have no idea what he's getting at. Way too serious or vague - I guess I'd have to ask him.
PJ Harvey - "Let England Shake" (9.2 out of 10) - I wouldn't call it amazingly accessible for the general public and it's certainly not very radio-friendly. Her A and R man probably does not hear an obvious single (I'd go with "This Glorious Land" myself), and those who eagerly await a return to the stylings of 2000's "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea" will have to wait another few years at least. This is a stripped down affair from her yet again, though with a jangly guitar/snare drum in place of piano. But..... this is brilliant stuff - both lyrically and musically...the contrast between this and the Bright Eyes offering is ridiculously stark. Her socially conscious lyrics are precise and almost nursery-rhyme like, but oh so effective. "I've seen and done things I want to forget/ I've seen soldiers fall like lumps of meat/ Blown and shot out beyond belief/ Arms and legs were in the trees." And delivered in that haunting, believable voice that is unique to PJ Harvey. Love the beats/percussion she has come up with...keeping everything from descending into so much preachy sentimentality. A perfect blend and a classic album.