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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Rainer Maria
Catastrophe Keeps Us Together

Rating: 8/10 ?

April 12, 2006
I remember the first time I heard Rainer Maria. It was 1999, and I was being shown the ropes at my college radio station by a red-haired, tattooed goddess. I was supposed to shadow her show to feel readied for my own debut, but was spending too much time gawking at her impeccable song choices to pay attention. As she rolled through songs by Braid and the Promise Ring, she led out of a break with Rainer Maria's "Planetary." I was floored by the powerful vocals and rising dynamics; I bought Look Now, Look Again the next day and haven't stopped listening to it since.

Somewhere along the way, Rainer Maria stopped sounding, to me, like the band from that fond memory. As "Ears Ring" picked up steam on MTV2, I felt a little lost. This was a long, long way from "Tinfoil." While I could see why others enjoyed it (and admired the band for soldiering on), I huddled close to their first few releases and felt blissful in my nostalgia.

For those who feel like me - that A Better Version of Me and Long Knives Drawn didn't quite connect to the soul - there's a splendid proclamation to make: Catastrophe Keeps Us Together is the most Rainer Maria has sounded like themselves since the Atlantic EP and is more daring than we could have hoped.

While places are more polished and radio-ready than Past Worn Searching, to Rainer Maria's credit, Catastrophe is expansive. Their intuitive cover of Nico's "I'll Keep It With Mine" offers insight to the album's strengths. At its bleakest and most distant, Catastrophe has an impenetrable resolve: the standout, "Cities Above", quakes with an almost otherworldly cool.

Still redefining their own brand of emo, tracks like "Already Lost" and "Southpaw" will certainly make suburban youth rethink the genre. Caithlin De Marrias' vocals are as powerful as ever; burnt by every pain she articulates, she sounds both forceful and weary here.

Other tracks deviate just enough to rocket the band to new-yet-logical terrain: the seemingly off-step and obvious single, "Life of Leisure", regains itself when sounding most like Blondie; "Bottle" parallels, inexplicably, The Pretenders' "Angel of the Morning"; "Clear and True" is a Velocity Girl-style fluttering jangle-pop song. It's perhaps more shocking to hear the band sounding as they did on their earlier releases, but the injection of new life through such keen sonic choices makes Rainer Maria sound completely rejuvenated.

It's not often enough listening to an album truly makes my day. Playing the role of a long-departed friend who suddenly appears at your doorstep, Catastrophe Keeps Us Together has done just that.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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