Like many of the lesser lights within the Elephant 6 posse--Of Montreal and Music Tapes among them--as well as some of the cutesy pop pretenders on the Kindercore label, Brooklyn's Ladybug Transistor sometimes sound more like precocious kids dressing up as musicians than the real thing. Part of the problem is that these twentysomethings are plainly inspired by music made well before they were born--the Beach Boys, the Association, the Zombies, and the Left Banke--but that wouldn't be such an issue if they could play: they often have trouble holding the bat, let along connecting with the ball. When bassist Jennifer Baron steps up to the microphone on "Catherine Elizabeth," a tune from the band's recently released fourth album Argyle Heir (Merge), I found myself transported back to the middle school talent show. And though front man Gary Olson is a rarity among his geek-pop brethren because he can actually carry a tune, his elocution is foppish and his emotional range veers from indifferent to mildly catatonic. But the plangent melodies and resourceful arrangements mostly make good use of the group's limited resources, even incorporating some rather good ideas (like the vaguely Latin shuffle on "Nico Norte") from outside the rock realm; if they don't quite achieve the cool elegance they're gunning for, they do sometimes reveal a charm of their own. Tuesday, June 19, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bryan Rindfuss.