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Preview: Bishop Allen

Noah Bonaparte Pais on the band coming to The BEATnik Aug. 28


Before forming Bishop Allen in 2002, Justin Rice did stints with the Pissed-Officers and Depeche Mode. Not that one. "The other Depeche Mode seemed long gone at the time," Rice wrote in a recent guest blog for Under the Radar, "so we figured the name was up for grabs." The Pissed-Officers surrendered their badges more than a decade ago, but the smart-ass Harvard University punks did open for Yo La Tengo — accidentally, from the corner of a room in which YLT was sound-checking. (Rice's review: "Ira [Kaplan] stepped up to the mic and said, 'Well ... that was interesting.'") His current outfit, whose third album Lights Out (Dead Oceans) ended five years of radio silence, is informed more by the ethos than the form: After taking the piss on 2009's over-considered, ticklish Grrr... — an all-feathers Andrew Bird hatchling that fell out of the nest — Bishop Allen shows up and takes off, spinning its most satisfying pop since its grueling 2006 cycle of issuing an EP every month. The highlights of that music calendar became second LP The Broken String, and the band is back in greatest-hits mode here — only now with five annals from which to cull. First singles (and first two tracks) "Start Again" and "Why I Had to Go" risk top-heaviness for front-loaded impact, Rice and wife Darbie Nowatka melding into yin-yang twins a la Yo La Tengo or Mates of State. Subtropical simmer "Crows" tries siphoning from Paul Simon's Vampire Weekend-desiccated Graceland, but that only lasts for one song; "No Conditions" and "Shadow," a killer Queen pep talk and Ray Davies after-sunset devotional, are the things that linger. It's where charm meets school, or music for the masses with glasses. Jesse Marchand opens. Tickets $8-$10.

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