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Our critics' picks in new releases


It's taken a while, but after exhaustive study, the indie-rock underground has discovered there were other bands before 1980 than Big Star, The Velvet Underground, The New York Dolls, Cheap Trick, The Stooges and Black Sabbath. While with this knowledge some bands obsess over the carcass of Sticky Fingers, Nathan Asher & The Infantry are busy resurrecting the sounds of Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson. Certainly, the prominent role of bluesy piano and organ in his numbers strengthens the Boss comparison, and nowhere is it as undeniable as on the stunning title track. Raging like Springsteen's "Lost In The Flood," Asher expertly tackles the feeling of helplessness many rediscovered Nov. 2, his words a torrential storm of frustration over rising Hammond fills and a mournful harmonica line. Asher's voice is a bit of an acquired taste--not unlike John Darnielle--but (similarly) the incisive lyricism redeems a great deal. Musically, Asher thrives in a mid-tempo rock groove with a steady blues undercurrent keyed to the piano and organ, though the guitar has the jagged pop crunch of The Wedding Present (used more for flavor than to forward the melodic line). While political in bent, Asher gives the songs an Everyman voice that echoes the rootsy sound it's built upon.

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