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The 1993 debut of New York’s Madder Rose, Bring It Down (Seed), made them out to be indistinctive, almost slavish adherents to indie-rock mores. With Billy Cote’s half-formed pop tunes, Mary Lorson’s forlorn, lethargic vocals, and Lorson and Cote’s flat, muddled guitars, Madder Rose were a fine example of a young band pushed by label execs into trying for a big score before they were ready. Yet on their surprisingly strong follow-up, Panic On (Atlantic)–Seed is just Atlantic’s faux-indie, credibility-gaining shill–the band have taken the de rigueur wispy-vocals-set-to-blasting-guitar further with real success. Where Lorson once spilled unconfident melodies in a soft whisper, she now delivers complicated, genuinely hooky lines with a vulnerable firmness. The guitars have congealed with the rhythm section, which makes Madder Rose sound like a real band instead of the slapdash hipsters they were on the debut; with their contrapuntal lines, their chunks of silence and space, and even their more modest dynamic shifts, they’ve managed to dig something worthwhile out of the exhausted pop-rock pile. Friday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

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