Volume 94, Issue 34

Tuesday, October 31, 2000


Bloodsucking good time

Sequel doesn't stack up

Woodstock full of Halloween treats

Harvey keeps progressing

Harvey keeps progressing

PJ Harvey
Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

There are certain truths in life: the world is flat, the sky is blue and PJ Harvey is one of the most engrossing, evolving musicians to come out of the 1990s alternative music scene.

Harvey, at age 31, seems to have matured significantly in preparation for her latest release, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. Musically, the album has a lighter feel, which is likely due to the reliance on jangly keyboards and synthesizers. Although it's not as haunting and powerful as her 1995 masterpiece, To Bring You My Love, this new album is still quite compelling.

The opening track, "Big Exit," immediately catches listeners with its anthem-like feel, while "Good Fortune" is a testament to solid rock. Still, as the album continues, so too does the sojourn into the depths of the work.

"The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore" provides a scathing commentary on urban society, inspired no doubt by Harvey's extended stay in New York City. Meanwhile, "Kamikaze" and "This Is Love" serve up PJ Harvey's specialty – frenetic vocals, wild guitars and furious drums. For fans of Harvey's early work, these ones are for you.

The album's standout track is definitely Harvey's duet with Radiohead's Thom Yorke. Yorke, who lends his hollow vocals to two other tracks, is a perfect match for Harvey. Together, they've created a haunting piece that drips with intense longing and ache.

With Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, PJ Harvey has once again proven herself to be among the pre-eminent creative forces in music today. With an uncompromising style and a gift for songwriting, she will no doubt always have an audience standing by, waiting to hear stories from wherever she happens to go.

– Matt Pearson

Billie Piper
Walk of Life

These days, it appears the formula for success in pop is an attractive, slim blond.

Welcome Billie Piper to the mix, an export from the UK who, though reminiscent of Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson, doesn't quite make the cut. On her latest release, Walk of Life, Billie Piper presents 12 tracks that all curiously sound the same.

Demonstrating neither artistic ingenuity nor individuality, Piper's CD presents the listener with the challenge of deciphering where any given song ends and the next begins. Perhaps in compensation, or maybe just out of a lack of originality, Piper commences nearly every song by belting out the title – and then she's off, carried away on a trail of monotonous beats forming repetitive, unimaginative melodies.

On the tracks "Day and Night" and "Bring it On," Piper's adequate voice proves a complement to the persistent dance beats that form the rhythmic backdrop.

While Piper herself contributes to much of the writing on her album, her lyrics lack vivacity, intelligence and depth. Her track "Ring My Bell" is far from being provocative or revolutionary, but its catchy rhythm remains a testament that if the song gets one shaking and grooving, then the lyrics become virtually irrelevant.

Billie Piper is no Britney. She isn't even Mandy Moore on a bad day. But, to quote Billie herself in "The Tide is High," she's "not that kinda girl who gives up just like that."

Keep on trying, Billie.

–Carla Lubell

Let's Get Ready

Originally one of the leading rappers on Master P's No Limit record label, Mystikal has quickly evolved beyond the label's cliché thug identity and has become one of the most recognizable rappers of the Dirty South.

His latest release, Let's Get Ready, demonstrates many styles of rap and is sure to secure his status as hot property on the music scene. The album is Mystikal's most ambitious project to date.

The record is a collection of slamming tracks that will rock the ears of any hardcore rap music fan. Mystikal's energetic, raucous vocals convey a feeling of recklessness while bringing a sense of confidence to the album. While songs like "Family" have more of a toned-down tempo, Mystikal's in-your-face style is apparent throughout the album. Additionally, his signature gruff and speedy delivery is complemented by guest appearances from a variety of artists.

Da Brat and label mate Petey Pablo drop their vibe on the jam "Come See About Me." Another stand out is "Neck Uv Da Woods," which features Outkast, the Atlanta rap scene's most hyped and outrageous duo. The CD also includes three bonus tracks, which are sure to make your body move and heighten this mystic experience even more.

It has become increasingly difficult to trace Mysitkal's roots back to the trademark sound and motifs of the No Limit Camp. His musical power should enlighten millions of fans who have never thought of buying a record from his label. Hopefully, with his new found following, this rambunctious rap artist will prolong his stay at the top of the music world.

–Adam Budd

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