Rasputina, Wilderness of Manitoba, Bravo Max!

Twin cellos and drum trio Rasputina formed two decades ago, uniting Gothic sensibilities with Victorian style and biting social commentary. Garbed in corsets and flowing turn-of-the-century gowns, history buff/leader Melora Creager draws on forgotten events and faded eras for songs whose subjects still resonate today. There are several concept albums among their seven LPs, such as 2004's Frustration Plantation, which explores traditionally patriarchal, dismissive Southern attitudes toward women, or the Dubya-inspired political allegory of 2007's Oh, Perilous World. After joining Nirvana's In Utero European tour and collaborating with Marilyn Manson, Creager enlisted Chris Vrenna (NIN) to produce their second album, 1998's How We Quit The Forest. It weds their moody cellos and an interest in industrial/metal guitar with processed drums and electronics. It alienated their audience, but Creager has always valued her muse over commercial success — one reason why she has a lower profile than newer, similarly minded acts such as Dresden Dolls or Emile Autumn. Initially an all-girls outfit, Rasputina has undergone numerous lineup changes including several male members and a reduction in the number of cellos. Their style has also evolved, settling into a lugubrious chamber-Goth approach with strong dynamics and muscular elegance. They're supporting last year's Sister Kinderhook, which explores the history of the Hudson Valley, where Creager now lives.

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