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Kimberly Chun

Norah Jones Tests New Ground on ‘The Fall’

Oh, Miss Jones -- what the devil are these synths doing all over your silky, plush-kitted-out pipes. I’m talking about “Chasing Pirates,” off Norah Jones’ new album, The Fall (Blue Note), out today.

The ‘80s-esque offender just may have pop classicists rushing for the door, teeth clenched in rage at the artifice of it all: Synth and Wurlitzer chords burble and throb in counterpoint to Jones’ slipping and sliding vocals, more soft-rock Bruce Springsteen than OMD, riffing off the Boss’ “Fire” and punctuated by baldly faux handclaps. “And I don’t know how to slow it down,” Jones croons, lost in a fantasy of paranoia and escape and alone for the night. “My mind’s racing from chasing pirates.”

Anjulie Charms, Plays The Fox

It’s sheer pleasure to encounter a debut as delightfully fresh as Anjulie’s. There’s nothing musty or fussy about the retro-soul/R&B stylings of the self-titled Hear Music disc by the Los Angeles-based, Oaksville, Ontario-bred daughter of Guyana immigrants. This is the type of music that gently grooves with the throwback soul of Duffy and Adele -- and despite her pouty, morning-after poses of late, little of the bad-girl drama of Amy Winehouse. Anjulie opens for Oakland-native hometown hero Raphael Saadiq at Fox Theater Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Call To Action: ‘Precious’ With A Purpose

As bold, and in your face, as love, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, was aptly renamed. This artful, passionate film by Lee Daniels is as gritty as a raw diamond in the rough, even while it revels in the tragic paradoxes of its tale and its protagonist’s life. 

Six Appeal: Black Heart Procession Plays The Independent

Maybe it’s because the Black Heart Procession play in near darkness or maybe it’s the smoky air of mystery surrounding unassuming leader Pall Jenkins -- whatever the case may be, the San Diego-Portland combo sometimes seems like one of the more unsung outfits to come out of the turn-of-the-millennium indie-rock era.

The black, black heart of the band’s new album, Six (Temporary Residence), drew me in and kept me there, wondering at its bleak appeal. Luckily, Jenkins was there with answers, via e-mail. You’ll get a chance to glean more answers when Black Heart Procession performs Sunday, Nov. 15, at the Independent.

From The Cradle: Bay Area Women’s Vocal Group Kitka Brave The Darkness

The continuing woes in the music industry call for alternate career paths for versatile, intrepid musical types: witness the forays into children’s music by alt-rockers like Warren Zanes, They Might Be Giants, and the Bay’s own Sippy Cups. That turn toward home, hearth, and child-rearing takes a darker -- and reverently beautiful -- turn with the release of longtime Bay Area women’s vocal ensemble Kitka’s new Cradle Songs (Diaphonica). Bishop Allen Play Rickshaw Stop

Has a band ever dared to be as cute and cuddly as Brooklyn’s Bishop Allen? And who can resist a clutch of brainy indie rockers with such a light touch, such a likable sense of humor? You get a good dose of Bishop Allen’s whimsy on this year’s Dead Oceans release, Grrr..., and you wouldn’t be out of line to expect more when the combo appears tonight, Nov. 9, at Rickshaw Stop.

Royal Flush: The Dutchess And Duke Play Bottom Of The Hill

Seattle’s Dutchess and the Duke have a knack for throwing you for a loop: Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison’s 2008 debut, She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke (Hardly Art), found new ways into seemingly played-out formulas -- namely an early electrified folk sound familiar to fans of Dylan’s Bring It All Back Home -- and the two’s new full-length, Sunset/Sunrise (Hardly Art), goes one better. The storytelling is sharp and surprising. The pop referents hark to the sweetly tough innocence of the Ronettes, as well as the earnest yarn-spinning skills of Phil Ochs. However you shuffle it, Sunset/Sunrise is a delight. 

Fly With The Raveonettes at Bimbo's Tonight

Let the dreamtime vocals and metallic synths wash over you. Wallow in Ray Orbison romanticism and Link Wray guitar-tough cool. NYC-by-way-of-Copenhagen duo the Raveonettes have strayed a bit as of late, away from the eerily claustrophic shoegaze bubblegum of the Jesus and Mary Chain, though the psychotic melodies remain on the twosome’s latest, In and Out of Control (Vice).

We caught up with Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner via e-mail on the cusp of their SF show Monday, Nov. 9, at Bimbo’s 365 Club.

Magical Mum: The Icelandic Band Is So Weirdly Beautiful To Us

Ah, Iceland, with its bubbling volcanic action, pervasive fairy magic, and recent unfortunate financial meltdown. Such a small, sweet, chilly country – and yet it boasts such a seethingly creative music scene, one that encompasses both Bjork to Sigur Ros, both haunting traditional folk song and light-as-air indie-pop in the form of Emiliana Torrini.

‘The Canyon’ Yawns, As Does The Viewer

Devil-may-care honeymooners and packs of wolves -- they all go together like oil and water, Priuses and Hummers, the Bay Bridge and tenuous tie-rods. Such is the outdoor-adventure-gone-awry at the center of The Canyon, an indie thriller that flirts with some of the gross-out survival-horror of 2005 spelunking machisma nightmare The Descent, while playing to the what-if fears and worst-case anxieties that once fed Lost.

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