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At the time, Cibo Matto’s 1996 major-label debut Viva! La Woman may have seemed like goofy, flash-in-the-pan stuff—playground-rhymy and seemingly food-obsessed, with every song named after something edible. But at that point, American radio listeners were still recovering from the clinical depression of grunge, and seemed eager to champion anything that reconstructed their self-esteem—Rage Against the Machine directed teens’ anger away from themselves, toward the government; Marilyn Manson transformed geeks into goths; the Spice Girls shilled cheap “girl power” in miniskirts. But if they wanted something that wasn’t beating a message into their heads, listeners would have found that in Cibo Matto—a pair of Japanese transplants who made a statement without being so damn obvious about it. “I know my chicken/You got to know your chicken,” they sang, playfully, but true to the idiom’s meaning, Cibo Matto knew its stuff. Yuka Honda’s productions could be funky, loungy, or scattershot, but were consistently fastidious; Miho Hatori vocalized all over the map, from punk rock on “Birthday Cake” to the mostly chillaxed material on their second and last album, 1999’s Stereo Type A. Earlier on, the duo even unearthed prettiness in grunge, offering a serene cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” on its debut EP. The band split in 2001, but decided to reunite and record a new album in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami and its path of destruction. Leave it to Cibo Matto to make art when people need it most. (Ally Schweitzer) With Tony Castles at 8 p.m. at the Rock & Roll Hotel. $20.
Local dude Meredith Bragg has another album of lush and mysterious indie-folk, which we’re reviewing in this week’s City Paper. Here’s some of what we have to say:
His words demand mental involvement, and they reward any level of focus. He references concrete things—birds, dogs, seasons, people, architecture—but the lyrics almost always shift toward the abstract. He carefully lays out impressions and interactions, but he avoids deliberate scene descriptions and plot points. Everything is familiar and genuine, but not much is obvious. And his singing, always a little nasal, is more cool and controlled than ever.
Sounds like an endorsement! With Matthew Hemerlein at 8:30 p.m. at Black Cat Backstage. $10.
Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck became going concerns with their film Half Nelson, but they improved upon their neo-neo-realism with Sugar, their 2008 film about a Dominican baseball player raised in his country’s baseball-farm system. At 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Americas. Free, but RSVP here.