By Jessica Cassyle Carr
PJ Harvey The Peel Sessions 1991-2004 (Island)
PJ Harvey begs the question: How can one tiny woman be so gorgeous, talented and prolific? The release of these live recordings from the late John Peel's BBC program should only further confound PJ’s audiences. The album is comprised of five sessions spanning the aforementioned years, where Polly Jean plays an eclectic mix of originals (like the astounding and ultra-feminine acoustic “Oh My Lover”) and covers such as Willie Dixon's “Wang Dang Doodle,” which she and the band corrupt into what could be death's theme song. Henceforth: All hail PJ Harvey.
Slumber Party Musik (Kill Rock Stars)
Detroit, among other things, is home to Motown, a little cock rock, a low cost of living and Slumber Party. These four women make music that bears quite a likeness to their name: fluffy, pastel electro-pop rock, slightly tarnished and nearly tantamount to the genetic splicing of Ladytron and Nico à la Chelsea Girl. This, their fourth album, doesn't quite measure up to the others, but the ladies, the packaging and their bedtime carols will still incite proverbial pillow fights across the USA. This is also further proof that Kill Rock Stars is a label on which we can count.
Merle Haggard Hag: The Best of Merle Haggard (Capitol)
They don't make country music like they used to. These days it's retained, if not made a caricature of, stock traditionalist attitudes, yet relinquished the common man's ballad in exchange for overproduced radio effluvium. Now, this release is only a means for Capitol to make a little Christmas coin. Labeled with remastered status, not much sets it apart from Haggard's other greatest hits, best ofs and classics albums. Still, it features the best of the tragedy, alcoholism, hippie ridicule and simple livin' that Merle is so good at putting into song. And can any modern country dilettante do that with the same humility?
Maxwell • singer-