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SUNDAY

The untimely death of singer-bassist Mark Sandman left the surviving members of Morphine with some tough decisions to make. Should they go their separate ways (a la Nirvana)? Or wrangle themselves up a ringer—no simple matter, in Sandman’s case—and pretend as if nothing happened (like AC/DC)? Or hang together, but go in a completely new direction (er, Sublime)? After spending some time touring with their nine-piece Morphine tribute band, Orchestra Morphine, Dana Colley and Billy Conway opted to start a new band, named after a cartoon drawn by Sandman. Twinemen don’t abandon Morphine’s trademark sound—Colley’s sax still takes the place usually occupied by guitars and keyboards, and the band’s forays into jazz noir still evoke boozy images of sleazy clubs, bad malt whisky, and dangerous liaisons at the Wagon Wheel Motel—but instead of Sandman, you get Orchestra Morphine alumna Laurie Sargent on vocals. Frankly, I miss Sandman’s sly style, remarkable storytelling gifts, and knack for writing lyrics that are simultaneously witty and affecting. And I’m not a big fan of Sargent’s voice, which frequently wanders into Alanis Morissette/Sheryl Crow territory. But some of these songs—particularly the beguiling “Spinner” and the free-form “Learn to Fly”—are excellent. And when the band decides to go off the pop reservation altogether—as it does on several tracks here—you’ll be glad Colley and Conway decided to stick it out together. Twinemen play with Harford & His Band of Changes at 9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Black Cat’s Backstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $7. (202) 667-7960. (Michael Little)