New England product, 2008

Vets and newbs vie for your vote
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  September 11, 2008

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ARENA-FRIENDLY: Expect a full-length from Township in late October.

It’s hard enough for bands to get any attention from their local public without some pesky election coming in and hogging the spotlight. Not one of the Boston outfits dropping new CDs over the next few months is grappling with any particular public scandal: no secessionist tendencies, no unwed-teenage-mothering, no baggy-faced warmongering — how is your average power trio supposed to compete? It might be futile to expect a catchy EP to rival the importance of the free world’s fate, but allow me to present the top candidates for a successful term in your stereo. As it happens, the fall selection is a mix of experienced mavericks and innovative up-and-comers. The good news is that none of them is a delusional Alaskan hockey mom whose voice is enough to split the very bones of your skull.

Take AMANDA PALMER’s proper solo debut, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, which is due this Tuesday, September 16, on Roadrunner. Often centering on Palmer’s smoldering voice and a robust (if lonely) piano and sleek strings, it’s a far cry from the hyperstylized output of her Dresden Dolls. If you missed her two-night stand at the Brattle, where she premiered a series of videos (that together make up a film) for the album, you might have to paint on your patient face: Palmer will be in Europe until November. In the meantime, you can get acquainted with the concept on YouTube.

For the Lynchian weirdness suggested by Palmer’s title (but not quite fulfilled in the album), turn to the ever-prolific RICK BERLIN, whose Old Stag (Hi-N-Dry) will be led out on September 22. Recorded with Joe Stewart at Berlin’s JP digs on Centre Street (except for some incredible string arrangements, which were tracked in a BU classroom), Stag picks up where 2006’s Me & Van Gogh left off: brilliant lyricism (see: “Happy Lesbians in the Snow” and “John Lennon’s Nose”), tender and varied instrumentation, and Berlin’s tremulous vocal like a flickering bulb at the dark end of a creepy hallway. It may be his best recording yet — which is saying a lot. He’ll no doubt have copies at the ready for his September 22 show with Casey Malloy at Jacque’s Cabaret — now that’ll be Lynchy.

By now, Boston’s Dopamine label is borderline venerable, and the folks there are demonstrating their fortitude by diversifying the ol’ post-hardcore portfolio a bit, as witness the pair of singles they’ll have out this fall. To these ears, AGE RINGS’ “Rock and Roll Is Dead”/“Caught Up in the Sound” recalls the stripe of not-quite-alt-country-because-it-actually-rocks that Frank Black dealt in when he first de-Pixied. The single will also include remixes of a pair of older tunes courtesy of KIDWOLFMAN and DJ DIE YOUNG. The other release is from Die Young and floor-filler extraordinaire BALTIMORODER: their bumpin’ Cat EP drops on September 23. This near-dangerous double dose of Dopamine will be administered with a grand affair at Great Scott on October 11 featuring the Rings, Die Young, Baltimoroder, Hooray for Earth and Viva Viva (who, by the by, I just love).

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Related: Dollhouses and dream states, Winged feet, Sight unseen, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Dresden Dolls, John Lennon, Frank Black,  More more >
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