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PJ Harvey

Uh Huh Her
Island

Finally, my old pissy Polly is back. Harvey's latest album Uh Huh Her is the perfect blend of her past musical personae, combining the ferocious spit and snarl of the early Rid of Me with the mature, serenely urban Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea. Yet again, she has proved to be the great indie chameleon, our artsy-fartsy Madonna.

Recording the album herself on old four- and eight-track recorders, and apparently playing all instruments but drums, the album opens with the melancholy, vengeful "The Life and Death of Mr. Badmouth." Going straight for the jugular, "Who the Fuck?" is a wildly intense standout track that dooms itself to receive no airplay in FCC-land. Granted, some of the slower songs get a bit overwrought with over-the-top drippy lyrics (rhyming "neurosis" with "psychosis, psychoanalysis, sadness"). Still, on the sweet, simple acoustic piece "The Desperate Kingdom of Love," our newly balanced Harvey proves that while she can muzzle her bite at times, she still knows how to tap all-out raw emotion.

The Real Tuesday Weld

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I, Lucifer
Six Degrees

You should know this going into it: This album is an operetta of sorts, based upon the book I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan. I didn't know it, and was absolutely confused. Yes, confused, but intrigued.

The Real Tuesday Weld is Stephen Coates, who, along with a "cast" of nine, musically outlines the themes of the novel, creating an amazing conglomeration of cabaret and electronica, of flapper-era jazz and modern blips and beeps. "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" has a frantic, circus-like atmosphere, while "La Bte et La Belle" features simply an acoustic guitar, sweet in its naivet. Vocally, Coates often tries to tap his inner Serge Gainsbourg, but really the obvious comparison is to Tom Waits' Franks Wild Years.

Unfortunately, there's no liner notes explaining what the story is about, making it hard to follow the flow of the music. That aside, the best thing to do is just to sit back and let your imagination paint the picture.

Lansing-Dreiden

The Incomplete Triangle
Kemado

Can you still dance while confused? Apparently, I can. The opening track, "Metal on a Gun," can best be described as the bastard child of the Strokes and Franz Ferdinand, with Tommy James and the Shondells adding vocal DNA. It's an eerie but fascinating effect, the echoey harmonies wafting above garage rock and electronic beats. Miami natives Lansing-Dreiden continue their aural experiments for the entire CD, and it makes for a mildly chilly and innovative debut. "The Eternal Lie" flies headlong into early '80s punk, and "An Uncut Diamond" explores rockabilly -- but weirdly, those resonating, hollow vocals pervade. The boys slow it down midway to nearly a Goth crawl, providing a welcome break to go and get a drink after dancing so hard. Soon after, the festivities begin again as the band wanders into spacey dream pop and fun dance beats. Ultimately, The Incomplete Triangle is evolution on a compact disc.

-- Kara Luger

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