PJ Harvey

“The Wheel” – PJ Harvey

The first song released from The Hope Six Demolition Project, “The Wheel” has fomented controversy but I am mostly going to steer clear of it, except to note that PJ Harvey has a long and unstinting career as a musical artist and deserves respect and benefit of the doubt. And: that I think it’s foolish and close-minded to find fault with her for taking artistic risks. When writing about real places with real issues, there is always the potential for uncomfortable overlap and/or interplay between someone’s artistic vision and the real lives real people are leading. But I don’t think criticizing an obviously intelligent and talented artist based on a kneejerk and probably limited understanding of song lyrics is either helpful or interesting. And with that let’s proceed to the song.

Continuing in a sonic landscape related to the agitative, semi-stripped-down vibe of 2011’s Let England Shake, “The Wheel” is propelled by an insistent, chant-like melody. At first, each lyrical line is delivered as a stand-alone pronouncement—call and response with the response, basically. The chorus gives us a slight variation on the verse melody and now with the response filled in. Keep your ears on the edges of the carefully constructed mix, where some feisty guitar work can intermittently be heard. And check out the hand claps—I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for songs that use hand claps with which you can’t really clap along. I’m easily amused, what can I say?

And can I also note that I’m delighted to have an available free and legal download at this point in time from an artist of Harvey’s gravitas and caliber? Don’t get me wrong, I love finding lesser-known acts to feature but can’t help noticing the shrinking supply in recent years of free and legal MP3s from the not-lesser-known camp. We are indeed at the tail end of the (almost) late, (almost) great Download Era, but this is the first time I’ve been able to feature Polly Jean Harvey. I’m not sure that means anything but enjoy the offering.

The Hope Six Demolition Project will be out in mid-April on Vagrant Records. Thanks much to the good folks at KEXP for the MP3.



  1. Murphy's Law on Wednesday April 6, 2016

    I’d love a CD. How do I get one?

  2. fingertips on Wednesday April 6, 2016

    Album comes out April 15, at which point it will be available on iTunes, via Amazon, etc.

  3. Murphy's Law on Wednesday April 6, 2016

    I’m sorry, I meant for that comment to be with the Patrick Boutwell entry – I was referring to the Fingertips: Unwebbed CD.

  4. fingertips on Wednesday April 6, 2016

    Oh. Oops! Well you just have to ask, which you did. I’d ask then for $4 (to cover postage and packaging), which you can send via the PayPal “Donate” button here on the web site. Then just email me your postal address (email here is fingertipsmusic at gmail. Dot com, that is.)

    Oh if you want to read more about what you’d be getting, I’ve got this old page from the old version of the web site still buried online, here:

    http://www.fingertipsmusic.com/classic/linernotes.htm

    If you still decide you want it, just do the PayPal thing and I’ll send it your way. Thanks for your interest!!

  5. Nat on Friday April 8, 2016

    Indeed we are at the tail-end of the download era. What a time it was, though. I have a drive FULL of damn fine tunes.

  6. fingertips on Friday April 8, 2016

    Yeah so the question is: when do I stop this? I don’t really want to. But if no one else really wants MP3s then, hm. Talk about an exercise in futility. Me, I *like* having the thing as a thing, even if it’s just a digital thing. And funny how it was the MP3 that used to be what was considered intangible. But, compared to streaming, it’s nearly three-dimensional! 🙂

  7. Murphy's Law on Friday April 22, 2016

    As someone with sometimes-iffy internet at home and no internet at work, I appreciate mp3’s (and CD’s still). Not everyone is onboard with streaming.

  8. Deb on Wednesday April 27, 2016

    I’m still 100% committed to mp3s and I’m pissed off that I can’t find a decent portable mp3 player anymore. I don’t want to use my phone because, well, it’s my *phone* and not a music player. I want to be able to use a device with my eyes closed (or while driving) so that I can choose “next” or “back” without having to actually look at the damn thing. How can I do that with my smartphone? Anyway, I’m glad that Fingertips is still around. I’m sad, however, that so quickly after technology gave us the ability to listen to virtually any song in existence, it’s now making it such a supreme pain in the ass to do so. Thanks for letting me rant and please carry on with Fingertips!

  9. fingertips on Wednesday April 27, 2016

    Deb – That’s a great point about how you can’t operate an iPhone as a music player without looking at it. I’m frustrated by that a lot as well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is the kind of thing that has happened (and will continue to happen) when the reigns of the music industry have been handed over to the tech industry. Rant away here as you will; I’m happy to know there are still some like-minded folks out there. Thanks for hanging around here all these years! 🙂


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