Lovers Lane
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Camp’d Out

| January 24, 2012

Sometimes a subtle shift is all a band needs to find rejuvenation. Los Campesinos haven’t pulled a Kid A or even an OK Computer, but they’ve pulled enough to get out of a rut. They’re in town, as are Cheyenne Marie Mize and David Nail.

On 2010’s Romance Is Boring, the Welsh septet missed the target in an attempt to fire their bratty indie-punk into the heart of their more sincere expressions. Hello Sadness (Arts & Crafts) takes more or less the same approach, but with less haste and more of a clear sense of who they want to be. Almost unrecognizable from the coattail-Art Brut’ers who spun “You! Me! Dancing!”, Sadness feels genuine, as if the personal and creative struggles that emerged in Romance‘s aftermath were the genesis for some actual examination. “You! Me! Dancing!” fans needn’t be totally worried, as the Campesinos can still work up an over-caffeinated fervor, but they’re a better veteran band than they were an album ago. (Friday@Metro with Parenthetical Girls.)

Some day, Cheyenne Marie Mize is going to look at her album titles and wonder what-if. The We Don’t Need (Yep Roc) EP follows the similarly truncated Before Lately, both suggesting a convoluted or self-serious singer/songwriter. Mize’s determination in her craft, shouldn’t be questioned either way. For a short set, We Don’t Need prismatically combines and refracts the colors that constitute her work. “Wishing Well” is the disco ball, combining her earthy energy, ad hoc percussion, and organic thrust that gets scattered through the haunted, less accessible “Call Me Beautiful” and the buoyant piano-pop of “Going Under.” If only the words that bound them weren’t so inscrutable. (Wednesday@Schubas with Secret Colours.)

If you had David Nail‘s studio band, you’d play forever, too. With the power to turn even Nail’s slightest, pop-rock material into modern-country gold, it’s no wonder the average track on his sophomore label outing, The Sound Of A Million Dreams (MCA Nashville), runs about 90 seconds too long. A discordant, yet gritty moan greets opener “Grandpa’s Farm,” while “I Thought You Knew” harkens subconsciously to Def Leppard’s Hysteria without losing the plot. Nail, who nails the sweeping melody to “Let It Rain,” workmanly digs through country boilerplate, but never really has anything to say. Even the potentially devastating “Half Mile Hill” – about a boy watching daddy walk away – reads like it could have been written by anyone with a mild understanding of child psychology. You’d let the band play, too. (Thursday@Joe’s On Weed.)

— Steve Forstneger

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