Our resident Renaissance man, Rick Berlin, breaks from his many works in progress — the documentary film, the musical-theater production, the cabaret-styled shows he hosts around town — to sing his heart out for us once again. Having disbanded his indie lounge act the Shelley Winters Project, he’s stripped it back to just his wry, winsome vocals and insistent piano on a new solo album, Me & Van Gogh (Hi-N-Dry), that’s due February 7. Recorded at the Hi-N-Dry loft in Cambridge on Mark Sandman’s acoustic piano, with Billy Conway (Morphine) and Tom Dube (Richard Thompson) at the board, the disc is at once inflamed and tender.
Give it up for Coinstar. The Beatings said they’d release their second album, Holding onto Hand Grenades (Midriff Records), when they scrounged up enough change from their sofas, and that time is now. They celebrate with a CD-release show at T.T. the Bear’s on January 19. Like the tasty five-song EP If Not Now, Then When?, which they released last August, the new material was produced by Paul Kolderie and recorded by Tim Shea at Allston’s Analog Divide, and it boasts plenty of likably off-kilter indie rock.
The kids who have been waiting eagerly to do as the Lot Six instruct on their third album and Get Baked on Youth Kulture will finally get smoked out when the album drops in late winter or early spring. The vinyl-only release comes courtesy of their friends at New York City–based Plastic Records and has plenty of favorites from their fiery, sweat-drenched shows, including the gorgeous slacker lover song “Ho Hum (Ho Hum).” The sad-eyed country punks in Lot Six offshoot Frank Smith are quickly following up the July release of their third album, Think Farms (Lonesome Recordings). They’ve already got an April 1 show booked at Great Scott to celebrate their latest, Red on White, which they plan to self-release. Recorded this past fall at New Alliance with Ethan Dussault, the eight new songs have some dark moments tempered by pretty banjo, according to frontman Aaron Sinclair.
Having taken leaps and bounds in their songwriting and musicianship since their already quite excellent 2003 homonymous debut (on Man with a Gun), indie-rock melody makers Mittens return with a 12-song album that includes one live track. It was recorded with Pete Weiss in Vermont and mastered earlier this month with Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East. They’re in talks with Dan Shea of Weymouth-based label/promotions force Bodies of Water Arts and Crafts to release the disc and book a January tour, which will take them to Chicago.
Electro-rock instigators the Campaign for Real-Time condense their high-energy, anything-goes live show into an atmospheric, effects-laden debut, Yes . . . I Mean, No (Curve of the Earth), that was mastered by drummer Nick Zampiello and produced by his New Alliance colleague Ethan Dussault. Big Scary Monsters will handle it on the British side of the pond. The band helm a CD-release show at Great Scott on January 19 with Certainly, Sir and Mad Man Films. Now sophisticated rockers, the Bleedin Bleedins celebrate the release of their debut, Life Without Computers, with a January 27 show at T.T.’s with Dear Leader and the December Sound. And drama-rockers Mascara take over the Lizard Lounge on January 20 for a CD-release party in honor of their new Spell (Mr. Fibuli’s Records), which they recorded with Hendrik Gideonse at Indecent Music.