My review of PJ Harvey’s Uh Huh Her, which is one of my favorite pieces of writing from 2004, is featured in the Rate Your Music 2004 countdown.
I expect Saturday mornings to be loud in the apartment. It’s a day off, a day to wake up early with too much energy, a day of errands and industriousness. Upstairs they are vacuuming, here we are learning harmony, and there is a wonderful rock coming from downstairs. So wonderful, in fact, that i was sure that i recognized it.
Opening the door to our stairwell i discovered that Zoe, our downstairs neighbor, was playing my traditional airplane-landing accompaniment, PJ Harvey’s “Kamikaze.” This from the same neighbor who was blasting Madonna the day we moved in, and whose best friend is an abnormally pretty drag-queen named Dave, who occasionally chats with me in the hall.
Basically, she is the best downstairs neighbor ever. To show my appreciation, I left the following note, written on leftover coochie-snorcher-pink paper from the Vagina Monologues in red sharpie, taped to her door:
RE: You Rock
I noticed you were playing my favorite PJ record. I have everything PJ has recorded; feel free to borrow some. -Peter
ps: It’s nice to have neighbors with good taste!
I was afraid that Tori might let me down and that i would be force to move her down from the third tier of my pyramid of musical favorites, but Scarlet’s Walk is one of the most eclectic and exciting album’s i have heard in ages. Looks like we’ll have to wait for Ani to release another shitty live album before i can move PJ Harvey up to the third tier…
I’ve been very good this year about buying new records – for the most part, i haven’t. Sure, there was a purchase or two a few months ago, but when my music allowance for the first four months of a year is under $100 you know i’m acting with some amount of restraint. Part of what kept my wallet firmly in my pocket is the knowledge that the past two weeks would see the release of over a dozen records that i was definitely eying up for purchase, and on Monday i picked up a few between AKA and South Street. Here are first impressions, in ascending order of quality:
Proving that a general public of music fans don’t have to be tone-deaf idiots, Village Voice has released their top 40 albums and singles of the year as voted on by subscribers. Singles really aren’t too entertaining to me, but i was very entertained to see PJ Harvey edge out Radiohead by barely 30 votes for the #2 slot of the year. The PJ album beats Kid A hands down any day, but Radiohead seems to win on every list because of more promotion and a bigger American fan base. Isn’t it sad when the popular unpopular rock bands drown out all the good ones? Anyhow, my faith in music has been reaffirmed by the fact that enough people ignored the knee-jerk reaction of voting for Radiohead to nominate PJ Harvey for praise. Otherwise, i was happy to see Aimee Mann win over Madonna, but frowned when i saw U2’s massive failure All That You Can’t Leave Behind garner more votes than the two ladies got combined. Finally, hip-hop favourites Jurassic5 found a spot on the countdown only one vote higher than Philly’s own Marah, whose album might not be amazing – but it’s definitely Philly. Like i said … this just proved that there are some actual music fans out there. And, with this year booked with releases from Ani, Weezer, Garbage, and Tori Amos so far, it looks like us music lovers are in for quite a ride :p
I’m long overdue on commenting on the best music of 2000, aren’t i? To be fair, i got some of my favourite albums of last year in a post-christmas shopping spree, so i needed some time to adjust to them. However, i think i might have a top five ready to go – only, it’s not so much a top five as it is five #1’s in different categories. Here we go…
Stories From the City, Stories from the Sea, PJ Harvey – Albums this good aren’t made all that often. Crunchy rock songs, flowing earthy ballads, and the ability to turn love into a tangible wavelength of sound for three minutes at a time. Hardly a single song misfires, and standouts like “Good Fortune” and “You Said Something” are easily some of the best songs to have been released all year. A must have.
The Trouble With Poets, Peter Mulvey – It’s hard to be objective about this album, because i’ve known it for so long. The live album that preceded it featured its title track, and i had seen Peter play over half of the album live in 1999 and early 2000. But, the album’s release was anything but anticlimatic; Peter’s sparse live acoustic sound is something totally different than the textured mix found on his album, complete with sighing backing vocals and drums that just emphasize the incredible rhythms he establishes with his guitar. Every song is good, but the title track is perfection itself.
You Were Here, Sarah Harmer – I would have never bought this album, except that i came into work early one day and heard it played straight through on our local folk station. Of course, i was busy making lattés and hardly could pay the sort of attention Ms. Harmer warrants, but i definitely was intrigued by her sound. On a whim i picked up her disc in my post Christmas shopping spree, and i have to say that it’s the best whim i’ve had in years. The album as a whole resides somewhere in the vast expanse between Ani DiFranco and Sarah McLachlan, but individual songs like “HideOut” and “Lodestar” defy such easy categorization as much as they defy you to not like them. Album opener “Around This Corner” is almost too catchy to even recommend to you for fear you might never listen to another first track the same way again, the wailing “Weakened State” conjures up more angst then any Limp Bizcuit song i’ve ever suffered through while still sounding great, and “Basement Apartment” definitely deserves to hit it big on college or AC radio. This album has something for almost any fan of female folk or pop music, so i suggest you listen.
The other two albums of the year are still in flux. Do i sell out and pick Madonna’s Music just because it’s Madonna and surpassed my wildest expectations. Can i really place indy-rock Death Cab for Cutie’s We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes amongst some of my musical idols without a flinch? Or, is Veruca Salt’s first post-humus effort deserving of the best of recognition for it’s shining moments even when there are terrible ones mixed in… I’m altogether unsure. I’ll tell you as soon as i figure it out…