Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Just like a man

| March 11, 2011

The Band, Cars, and Police didn’t have to deal with modern technology, but contemporary musicians know full well the first time a curious person wants to learn more, they’ll Google them.

Googleability, naturally, should top the list of naming-your-band prerequisites. Sometimes shirking such marketability is purposeful, and can go beyond the name and into the album title, hence M.I.A.’s /\/\ /\ Y /\. Yet keep coming they do, outfits like Fun, Pens, Thunder & Lightning, and this cartel of pronouns like Girls, Women, and now Men. Men frontwoman JD Samson has been around since before Web promotion, having led such pioneering wymynyst electropunks Le Tigre. Yet as someone who’s always on message, she should have done better.

At least she didn’t self-title Talk About Body (Iamsound), giving some hope to bandmates Michael O’Neill and Ginger Brooks Takahashi’s needs for visibility. The undistinguished quality of the moniker is also ironic, because most of Men’s music — as Le Tigre’s — is about building a strong sexual identity in the face of social pressure. (A lot of people give Lady Gaga flak for talking “be true to yourself” and hiding behind costumes and a stage name.) Samson otherwise has no disguises. The guitars, vocals, keyboards, and beats could even be perceived as an afterthought to the lyrics, which are delivered without pretense and often in clunky language — and still very Googleable. (Monday@Subterranean with Katastrophe and Lez Bobo & Friends.)

A different kind of upfront, Darlingside roll into town with their hearts on the table. A gentle, acoustic-based indie-pop act that feels like a vehicle for frontman David Senft, the band strum and pick a variety of stringed instruments all bent on dramatic tension. Recalling the acoustic Promise Ring side-project, Vermont, and sometimes Matt Pond PA, their calling card seems to be inventive syncopation, like the clicking drum sticks of “Surround” and the surprising claps throughout “Malea.” Strangely and perhaps fatally, the first track on Darlingside’s EP 1 is its least becoming, an adult-contempo powerfest that rudely undersells the intricate elements that await. (Monday@Elbo Room with Vince Dynamic and Jamie Kent.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Featured, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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