Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Rainer Maria

  • A Better Version of Me [Polyvinyl, 2000] C
  • Long Knives Drawn [Polyvinyl, 2003] *

Consumer Guide Reviews:

A Better Version of Me [Polyvinyl, 2000]
Structurally, indie-rock is as healthy as any other unsubsidized commodity in a panic economy. Clubs will fail, arty fans feel the pinch, but the infrastructure won't blow away. Musically, however, it's just limping along, especially when it declines the crutch of genre homage. Take this high-buzz Wisconsin-to-Gotham brainchild of ex-Ezra Pound guitarist William Kuehn. Compared by one admirer to "pop bands like Versus, Verbena, and of course Superchunk" while another cites its "male/female vocals a la Velocity Girl (minus the pop)" (and neither mentions Veruca Salt or Värttinä), Rainer Maria is the genuine collegiate article: impressionistic and overwrought. Emo is a male preserve. But emo fans are woman-friendly enough to sit still for music contoured to the vocal stylings of Caithlin De Marrais, who came in knowing poetry doesn't have to rhyme and picked up the bass as she went along. C

Long Knives Drawn [Polyvinyl, 2003]
She learns to sing love-songs-with-backup and indie boys think she's regressed (even though she's still pretentious!) ("Ears Ring," "The Awful Truth of Loving"). *