The best thing that’s happened to Rainer Maria over the past decade has nothing to do with Rilke. No, this Madison band have been the unwitting beneficiaries of Dashboard Confessional’s hijacking of “emo” without the “core,” a label once associated with the urgent, wounded, guitar-driven songs of self that kept bands like Rainer Maria in line. Of course, in a genre dominated by sensitive boys in sneakers and second-hand cardigans, Rainer Maria have had an edge: one-time singer/guitarist Kyle Fischer has over time given bassist Caithlin De Marrais more and more control over the vocals and lyrics. There’s barely a male voice to be heard on Catastrophe Keeps Us Together, which begins at the strident, romantic “end of the world” (“Catastrophe”) and ends in soft focus with an alluring, atmospheric cover of a song Dylan wrote for Nico (“I’ll Keep It with Mine”). De Marrais hasn’t completely changed her tune: after a brief acoustic intro, “Bottle” cranks up into an emotionally charged anthem with torn lyrics like “Maybe I’m a fool/But nothing ever felt so good.” But it’s nice to hear her come out from behind the wall of guitars on “Terrified,” even if it’s just to sing, “You’re so terrified . . . and so am I.” And “Clear and True” is an upbeat pop song about love found, lost, and found again, a song in which De Marrais and her band rediscover themselves as something more than the conventional emo band they once were.
Rainer Maria + The Format + Anathallo + Street To Nowhere | Axis, 13 Lansdowne Street, Boston | August 10 | 617.931.2000
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