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We have been giving too many good reviews in the past couple of issues of Free Williamsburg. So here are a couple of bad ones: The Wisdom Of Harry and Jimi Tenor just released a couple of duds on Matador. A surprise, since Matador (and sometimes Thrill Jockey) is usually my label of choice. That said, we can move on to more flattery.

And I cannot flatter PJ Harvey (aka Polly Jean) enough on her latest and 6th release, Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea. Like the dual nature of her vocal style, fluctuating between birdsong and assault, the newest release on Island records is at times tender and at times (excuse the word) rocking. Recorded both in rural Dorset and metropolitan New York, the bipolarity of the album makes sense.

Classic Harvey fans will be happy that there are no touches of the electronica on Stories that made her last release such a drag. In fact, this album sounds like it could have been released by the incarnation of Harvey we all knew and loved 8 years ago. Stories is much more melodic than 4-Track Demos and Rid of Me, but no less sophisticated or complex.

Highlights include the opening track "Big Exit" and "This Mess We're In" featuring guest vocalist Thom Yorke sounding a hell of a lot like Chris Isaak. But this is an enjoyable disk from start to finish and easily one of my favorites from the year.


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