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100 unsexiest men 2009

New England product, 2008

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

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).

On the fresh-faced front: quick local favorites TOWNSHIP are currently mixing their upcoming single (due late September) and a full-length (late October). Details are scarce — suffice to say these releases will concentrate the deliciously gnarly brand of exuberant arena rock (demonstrated so adeptly on last year’s Coming Home) into a high-powered beam that will hurt a little. After the sad dissolution of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Gabriel Birnbaum has focused all his energy on his BOY WITHOUT GOD alias. Like his past releases, Your Body Is Your Soul will be available free of charge through his MySpace page in late September. But don’t let the price fool you — Birnbaum’s songs veer from trancy organ drones to crystalline acoustic folk, even as his low-register croon cracks and warbles and deftly leads each smart arrangement. He’s one of the most promising new talents in town.

Same goes for Vermont transplants PRETTY & NICE, who found a home on the roster of the newly established Sub Pop subsidiary Hardly Art for their newest LP, Get Young. Feisty as fuck, punchy as hell, loud as all get-out, and poppy despite it all, P&N have it in them to elicit national forgiveness toward Boston for that whole Extreme thing. A release show for Get Young is in the works — watch this space for details.

Expect an exciting debut from MOVERS & SHAKERS, who aren’t actually industry flacks but rather four young men with a penchant for the Clash, the Boss, the lick, and the group vocal. Taking tried-and-true Americana and giving it a wallop of punk gusto, Larrabee (due in late October) is utterly pretense-free and, with any luck, will enjoy staying power right into the next barbecue season. (Sigh.) They’ve scheduled a release show for October 24 along with the COLD BEAT and WHERE THE LAND MEETS THE SEA — both of whom will also drop debut releases that night before heading out for nearly three weeks together on the road. The former describe themselves as “the Replacements being felched by Nirvana”; the latter abjure any sort of felching arrangement, relying instead on a softened approach to post-hardcore tropes: dreamy guitars, chunky, driving rhythms, and lilting lady vox.

The gloriously frenetic, sometimes-duo/sometimes-quartet/now-trio LIFE PARTNERS are preparing a new single on Partnership/Twisted Village Records. It may be the Partners’ best asset that one never knows what to expect from them, but odds are good that this single will be hot enough to melt itself. A release show with Eunuch, Donna Parker, and Kate Village is slotted for October 11 at Nom D’Artiste.

Related: Eatin’ good in Boston’s ’hoods, Tinseltown East, Never mind the Citgo, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Dresden Dolls, fall2008,  More more >
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