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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Luke Temple at The Rock and Roll Hotel 10/6/07

The Rock and Roll Hotel is nestled on H Street in D.C., quite inconveniently placed more than a mile from the nearest metro.† The upstairs bar is a cozy little abode, with three amputated mannequins overhanging the bar.† Instead of heads, the mannequins sport cow skulls that leer over your drink like overbearing relatives.† There were winged Stratocasters on the ceiling and some kind of ridiculous anime show on Cartoon Network playing on the tube.† After a couple of drinks and a few minutes of pondering what the hell the deal is with girls and Blue Moon, I headed back downstairs for the show.

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Music News

Breaking Hanson News: Guitarist Isaac Hanson of the rock group Hanson has been hospitalized at Baylor University Hospital in Dallas, TX after last night’s performance. Isaac was complaining of severe pain in his shoulders and chest. He underwent several tests throughout the night and has been diagnosed with pulmonary embolism. (Which occurs when a blood clot in the extremities breaks away and travels to the lungs.) If you google pulmonary embolism, the following picture is now the #1 search result.

Carolyn Mark Nothing is Free [Mint Records]

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Rating: 6.0

British Columbia native, Carolyn Mark, has been active in the country music world since the early 1990s. She established herself by performing all over Canada and frequently tours the West coast of the United States. In 2000, she released a CD with Neko Case under the band name the Corn Sisters before wandering off to begin a solo career. She has been prolific as she has recorded five albums on her own now and the recently released Nothing is Free is an album that continues in her usual poignant style of roots country a la Tammy Wynette and the Carter Family.

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Sunset Rubdown Random Spirit Lover [Jagjaguwar]

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Rating: 8.5

While Sunset Rubdown may be referred to as Spencer Krugís (Wolf Parade) side-project, their third album, Random Spirit Lover, sounds less like a side-project and more like a swan song.†Through the album’s lengthy fifty-eight and a half minutes, Krug is able to†manipulate the poetic chaos in a seemingly effortless way, giving equal time to both the frenetic and more sedated sides of his songwriting.

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