Critic's Choice

When talking about Rainer Maria, it's easy to become effusive over all the ten-cent words: Quote some lyrics from the trio's 2001 album, A Better Version of Me ("Why is this technology/An anathema to me?"), mention that singer/bassist Caithlin de Marrais and guitarist Kyle Fischer met in a poetry workshop, and allude to the fact that the band is named after nineteenth-century poet Rainer Maria Rilke. But Elvis Costello set the bar pretty high when he snuck the word "anesthetize" into "Radio Radio" 25 years ago, and big words with nothing behind them add up to big, fat pretension. So leave them behind; Rainer Maria has. The group's new album, Long Knives Drawn, shows that visceral emotion can take you further than a thesaurus can. Although Rainer Maria's music has lost some of its magnificent bombast as the songwriters mature, de Marrais's full-throttle vocals still have the power to shock, and her bass-playing forms a perfect bridge between William Kuehn's drums and Fischer's jagged but melodic guitar. Despite her new status, the band still functions as an organic unit, and it's sure to blow away those who make it to the Bluebird Theater on Saturday, February 15. Dictionaries strictly optional.


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