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If you’re gonna wait until 1995 to form a band that sounds like R.E.M., you’d better have more than a splattering of vaguely Southern charm. Fortunately for Jolene, mind-bending lyrics (“Two sisters and the laureate giving out the evening tongue/Drink heavy till I fill my gut with the lap full labeled song”) and a vigorous, driving beat seem to wipe away any accusations of coattail riding (even if they do get occasional vocal help from one-time R.E.M. contributor Peter Holsapple). Jolene first made its mark on alt-country with Hell’s Half Acre in 1996, then perfected its hazy, Spanish-moss-laden sound on its major label debut, 1998’s In the Gloaming MD-ULØ. Shortly thereafter, Jolene left Sire, but got to keep a fully recorded album, — which would become Antic Ocean. On it, John Crooke’s voice is still the band’s greatest strength: Meaty on the low notes, and balletic on the falsettos, it’s always on target. Jolene broadens its horizons with this release, even crossing the Atlantic for some inspiration: Among its 14 tracks—most penned by Crooke or bandmate Dave Burris—is a cover of English folk goddess Sandy Denny’s “John the Gun.” They play with Longwave and Pilot Fisch at 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, at the Metro Cafe, 1522 14th St. NW. $7. (202) 588-9118. (Pamela Murray Winters)