While young San Francisco married duo Mates of State's second full-length, 2001's Our Constant Concern (Polyvinyl), couldn't accurately be called "dark," their latest, September's Team Boo, manages such a sunny smile it's difficult to remember when the couple sounded distressed, even tense. How is it possible that a band so seemingly fresh from the high school drama club, bursting with native-Midwestern earnestness and dueling, angular boy-girl harmonies, could have sounded vaguely worried before? But it's true--Mates of State keyboardist Kori Gardner and drummer Jason Hammel (like an angelic, undivorced Quasi, instruments reversed) seem buoyed by the youthful support they've siphoned from understandably waning Rainer Maria fans, and have effervesced new, complexly syncopated duets organic as campfire sing-along improv, less anxiously self-conscious, still more soaring. Live, look for the songs to be less cloying, the enthusiasm fairly contagious--like a Bright Eyes show without the incipient sex symbol at the center.
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Touring with the Mates, Brooklyn's Ladybug Transistor is a prime example of a band that's continued to quietly turn out more mature music on each pass. Their new self-titled album is a set of easy Saturday songs perfect for when Lee Hazlewood feels too much like Johnny Cash-lite, and anything labeled Elephant 6 sounds too much like college rock. Vocalists Gary Olson and Sasha Bell trade off, Olson's improbable baritone oddly awkward for someone so prone to crooning, Bell's diction so classically '60s, the production could not have been handled any other way but in Ladybug's satisfyingly retro style. Fellow Brooklynites Palomar, comprising three females on the front lines, are known for the occasional fuzz-harmony masterpiece and some other stuff in between--with less of an off-putting attitude than your neighborhood riot grrrl. Overall, the bill promises more song-wielding women than your average night at Rubber Gloves--security will be on hand to guard against any attacks on this, our precious national melody reserve.