Lovers Lane
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All the hues that are fit to print

| September 13, 2011

Treat the rest of your week to a sampling of Marissa Nadler, Gold Motel starring at a Grammy U event, Tommy Keene, Active Child, Sick Of Sarah, Young Man, and Sleeping In The Aviary.

Marissa Nadler‘s people offer two strikingly different images to go with press for her new album: the vibrant one you see above, and another that would slide easily into your khaki-hued fall collection. We can sympathize with this indecision, because while Nadler possesses all the elements of your standard, card-carrying lonely songcrafter, she can also fill the air with textures that become almost suffocatingly hard to ignore. Case in point: closers “In A Magazine” and “Daisy Where Did You Go?” The former ripples like the pages of a book you’re reading on a windy day: a wobbling sheet of synth that’s kicked off many a club hit forms a tastefully unstable bed for an acoustic cut, before dropping out to expose the imbalanced plucking of dizzied violin strings. The latter puts weight on the albums’ ever-present echo, attempting to ghost past and being too successful at it. We’ll take the colors every time.(Thursday@Hideout with James Vincent McMorrow.)

The Recording Academy will host a get-to-know-it event for its Grammy U program, an educational supplement for students looking at music-industry-related careers. Offering access to executives, players, musicians, and more, its dozen chapters have provided hundreds of college-level folks with hands-on experience. As an enticement, they dangle a special acoustic set by Gold Motel and DJing by Lewis & Clark. (Wednesday@Spy Bar.)

Despite nearly three decades of perpetual obscurity, Tommy Keene only adds to his power-pop stripes. Behind The Parade (Second Motion) has a title that remarks on his position, yet nonetheless charges ahead with jangling chords, sugar-rush choruses, and lip-smacking harmonies as if the kids had lined up for Big Star tickets since Day One. (Thursday@Schubas with Doug Gillard and Sally Crewe.)

In which case, if all you want are 4/4 beats and bop-bop harmonies, do you even belong in a conversation about Active Child? Frontman Pat Grossi could probably give you the mathematical and theoretical breakdown for why his vocal arrangements leave simple power-pop in the dust, and You Are All I See (Vagrant) would back him up. Grossi doesn’t hide his skill or training, and lets listeners digest/reconcile influences that range from Jeff Buckley and Owen Pallett to Antony & The Johnsons and Baby Dee. He offsets his classical composure with the pent-up, minimal R&B that built James Blake a house, but streaks that quad wearing a Petruccio mask. (Friday@Schubas with Chad Valley and Magic Key.)

To compare Sick Of Sarah to Sleater-Kinney demeans neither band, but rather the one making the comparison. If it’s absolutely crucial to measure female acts against each other, you could do worse than mentioning The Donnas or Sahara Hotnights with the Minneapolitan quintet. Why not throw some men in the mix, like with Bettie Serveert? Or go all-male, like The Promise Ring or All-American Rejects. What do those guys sound like? Oh, The Beatles, and maybe a little Motorhead. (Friday@Abbey Pub with Hunter Valentine and Vanity Theft.)

So vomit works its way into another Sleeping In The Aviary album. (At least it’s not the title this time.) But the lyrical transgressions of “On The Way Home” are actually what separate this upper-Midwestern Elephant 6 bastardization from clear influences like Neutral Milk Hotel and early Bright Eyes. Where you just wanted to hold Jeff Magnum and Conor Oberst as they sobbed and shook, your time with this quintet will be spent making sure they don’t empty your liquor stock and stop kissing all the girls, like some randy first-grader. The Replacements and Titus Andronicus also stain their stylistic rug, which hasn’t been cleaned in years and would probably disintegrate were it ever to be. (Sunday@Double Door with The Bright Light Social Hour, Archie Powell & The Exports, and Chaperone.)

Colin Caulfield comes back from Europe to show Chicago that his Young Man project survived NME. The delicateness with which Ideas Of Distance (Frenchkiss, 9/27) makes its way through headphones makes you wonder if it should risk travel at all. An intimate, fragile recording (check out the hymn-like “Only You”) that frequently shines sunlight through gaps in its arboreal canopy, Caulfield even provides a condensed version of it with 10-minute closer “Felt” — a cinematic epic that might make Jeremy Enigk feel a little like Salieri. (Saturday@Subterranean with Grouplove and Deserters.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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