Jenni Potts, The Fourth EP – by Shrie Bradford

6.7

Iíve been putting off this review for a couple of weeks now. I was thinking, all of this time, that Jenni would turn out to be bland Ė another pretty girl with a bad habit of playing guitar. 1.76 songs into The Fourth EP, her debut out on Clickpop Records, Jenni convinced me that she is not talentless or boring. A mere 20 or so years old, Jenni Potts makes music that proves to be much more elegant and sincere than her years display. The Fourth does it all right Ė itís pensive and pertinent; itís slightly ambient, but jagged with rock girl mentality. Jenni has been through a lot, and you feel it in every croon of her voice. It seems as if all her anger, frustration, past tragedies, and depression are the fabric of this heartfelt unveiling.

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The Annuals – Live at the Rock and Roll Hotel

This was my second time at D.C.ís Rock and Roll Hotel in the span of a month, this time to catch The Annuals. Technically the band goes without the ďthe,Ē but for the sake of reader-friendliness, Iíll be including the definite article. The show was on a Sunday night, which was curious given The Annualsí considerably more prominent stature than most of the indie acts the venue sees. I suppose the R&R isnít exactly the most prominent venue nestled in its H Street abode next to a dollar store that still advertises phone cards. Despite the drawback of low turnout and grudging reality of work for most the next day, The North Carolina indie band has a reputation for wild live shows and I wasnít about to miss out on the fun.

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M83 Digital Shades Vol. 1 [Mute]

Rating: 8.0

Ambient electronica, as the name implies, is a genre that demands scale over scope. Brian Enoís gift to music has had a rather uneven history, mostly owing to the fact that itís extremely difficult to get right without tottering into either instrumental overload or the dubious lure of world music. Furthermore, as technology advances with the times, the detail demanded during the analog days of electronica is often passed over in favor of letting the machines just do their thing.

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His Name is Alive Xmmer [Silver Mountain Media Group]

Rating: 6.0

In 1990, His Name is Alive released their first album on the prestigious 4AD label in England. The Livonia, Michigan group established itself as an experimental and sometimes ethereal pop band throughout their tenure with 4AD, which ended in 2002. Last year’s critically acclaimed Detrola was their first release for the Silver Mountain label, and Xmmer now follows in very much the same vein.

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Two Gallants Two Gallants Saddle Creek

Rating: 8.5

I have an oddly unironic obsession with playing solitaire. My fancy little PDA-cell phone has a built-in solitaire game, and I play it endlessly on the bus. I’ve been going at this for a couple of months now on my commute to and from work, keeping a little note with my high scores (I know, I use my PDA to it’s fullest capability. No internet plan, but I’ll play the shit out of the built in solitaire game.) Anyway, I’ve found an interesting dynamic with the music that I choose to listen to while I play solitaire. I want it to be upbeat, but not obnoxious. Not background music, per se… more motivational, but not motivational like “Gonna Fly Now.” I’ve found that proper music gives me the best possible solitaire form.

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PJ Harvey White Chalk [Island Records]

Rating: 8.0

Rural Southwest England is where Polly Jean Harvey is originally from and it is where she has returned to after living abroad for several years. Her new album, White Chalk, is a stripped down, piano based recording that reflects the pastoral and remote setting where she once again resides. It is also the saddest thing that she has ever recorded. The songs are as bare as the chalkboard that the title suggests and her vocals lack much of their characteristic angst, howl and swagger. What’s more, they rarely gain any more volume than a low defeated whimper. However, Harvey has once again managed to cover ground that is unlike anything that she has previously done and her album, although at times painfully melancholy, is at the same time quite beautiful.

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Nina Nastasia and Jim White Live at the Tractor Tavern Seattle, 10/07/2007

Walking into a fairly empty venue on Sunday evening, I was surprised to see only about fifty people in attendance at what turned out to be a great show. I had missed the opening act and Nina Nastasia was already on the stage accompanied by one of the greatest drummers that I have ever seen, Jim White. The crowd, although small, was appreciative and more importantly, was quiet and respectful during the entire show, which is an absolute anomaly in Seattle.

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