Rainer Maria | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Rainer Maria 

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Predictably enough, indie twits en masse struck Caithlin De Marrais from their crush lists after Rainer Maria's 2003 album, Long Knives Drawn. No longer content to poetically twinkle amid Kyle Fischer's guitars, the singer began to articulate her personal and sexual prerogatives--something that was bound to happen to a nice midwestern girl who'd moved to Brooklyn. And the band shaped up its song structures as well, no longer overly relying on dramatic shifts in texture. On the new Catastrophe Keeps Us Together (Grunion), De Marrais edges away from confrontation without retreating into poesy. Elusive but not vague, "Catastrophe" tangles the personal and political into a tense, apocalyptic ball ("I've got a plan / I'm gonna find you / At the end of the world"). Her twists on relationship commonplaces tend more toward the clever than the incisive ("Our talk is cheap / But the phone bill is not"), and ex-fans who think the band's punchier songs are "conventional" aren't entirely off. But only the weakly extended boxing metaphor on "Southpaw" fails to land a blow. (Ugh, I know--would you prefer "stays down for the count"?) They close the album by deconstructing Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine," handling the song in much the same shambling way the old guy treats his own material these days. Ambulette, Kind of Like Spitting, and Lemuria open. Rainer Maria play an all-ages show at the same venue Friday, May 12, at 6 PM; tickets are $12. Thu 5/11, 8 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $12, 18+.

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