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What to do, what to do . . .

| January 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

Golden Globes: over. Mitt Romney: inevitable. Packers: safely packed away (though surely God won’t give Eli a second title, right?). Lana Del Rey: crashed and burned. Guess it’s Man Is Man, Martin Sexton, or Machine Head.

Husband-and-wife-duo Puerto Muerto existed on the margins of Chicago rock for a decade (which is why we didn’t have a problem adding them Shelby Lynne-like to our 10 local artists to watch for 2010), but despite continually keeping the Bottle and Hideout in their thrall never quite established themselves in the larger conversation. For whatever reason, Christa Meyer‘s transformation into Man Is Man seems poised to change that. Without retreating from PM’s haunting aesthetic or showing any deviation from her musical evolution, Those Birds Will Eat Us feels more direct and personal. At first, that seems a foolish declaration, because PM’s lyrics always had a fly-on-the-wall element for the married couple producing them. Meyer’s gaze is eerily fixed as she moans “I love you” again and again, while cabernet-swilling Nick Cave runs through “Love Leaves Us.” There’s a titular fixation with animals — doves, horses, starlings, bears — but it’s Meyers soul that’s restive through a string of torch songs; her primal urges have been shown death’s door. (Thursday@Hideout with Angela James.)

The general ineffectiveness of music journalism and critics glares most when some apocalypse-harbinging sham scales the charts in defiance of the ink spilled against them. But there’s also a quieter, more dispiriting quandary posed by the likes of Martin Sexton. The Boston-based singer/songwriter tours consistently and fills midsize venues, but when you Google him, the most common hits are the varying pages of his own site. Nothing recent from Rolling Stone, Spin, Pitchfork, the L.A. Times, Boston Herald, New Yorker, Time Out . . . just a Pop Matters review and a smattering of praise from individual, aspiring bloggers. His soulful, acoustic pop is nothing new, for one, and though there’s the occasional political foray his sentimentality (the new Fall Like Rain EP includes both a cover of “For What It’s Worth” and a happy-sixth-anniversary ode to his wife) rules the day. So what gives? People just like him. Occasionally, the press is on the outside looking in. (Friday@Park West with Bhi Bhiman.)

Grunge rock absorbs a lot of blame for what happened to metal’s popularity in the ’90s, though honestly nu-metal did more internal damage. Gliding through trends and crashes, Machine Head come to town celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. Overshadowed in the beginning commercially by Pantera, Sepultura, and Korn, and in the underground by black metal’s swift, menacing rise, Machine Head dropped an album roughly every 30 months and only lost the plot once, in 1999. Their failure to issue an unimpeachable masterpiece will always blot the Oaklanders’ record, but without fanfare, last year’s Unto The Locust (Roadrunner) built another brick layer around their formidable reputation. (Sunday@House Of Blues with Suicide Silence and Darkest Hour.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Featured, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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