If the nursery rhyme obscenity of The Moldy Peaches, the 2001 tag-team assault of lo-fi absurdism from Kimya Dawson and Adam Green, made you sick, you probably won’t believe me when I tell you that Dawson’s solo output is more likely to enrich your life than gross you out. Dawson’s two new discs, Knock-Knock Who? and My Cute Fiend Sweet Princess (Important Records), are her most painstaking excavations to date of the childhood anxieties beneath our grown-up lusts. Even at her goofiest (on My Cute Fiend’s “Hadlock Padlock” she investigates the alleged death of her love with the help of Matlock and The Facts of Life’s Blair Warner) Dawson is haunted by mortality and its alternative–premonitions of insane-old-ladydom creep her out almost as much as anthrax. She sings in a hush, and both of these new home recordings seem like conscious retreats from the hullabaloo of small-scale fame. “See I stopped going to the places where the people act so nasty and pretentious / ‘Cause I’m happy sitting with my friends in sidewalk singing songs,” she declares on “Being Cool” (on My Cute Fiend). If this is what she can do alone in her bedroom, I can only imagine what’s to come if she gets back together with some of the pals she loves to sing with and engages the world full on. Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players headline, Reverend Jen opens: Friday, October 31, 7:30 and 10 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; 773-728-6000. Opening for Stars and Elkland: Wednesday, November 5, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/John Brien.