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What’s new with New Madrid 

Magnetkingmagnetqueen is the latest from the Georgia band coming to Gasa Gasa

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Photo by Ben Rouse

Athens, Georgia, is a musical pockmark, a strange malformation, an island of misfit toys in the sea of exceeding normalcy that is north Georgia. This is the home of R.E.M. and the B-52's, of Elephant 6 and Orange Twin, of (the band) Harvey Milk and the late Vic Chesnutt. Like New Orleans, it's a place with an aquifer of hidden energy, where powerful forces conspire to fuel creative pursuits — a place where a rookie band wins a songwriting competition, gets the attention of a renowned producer and harvests three mushrooming albums as a result. Magnetkingmagnetqueen (Normaltown), New Madrid's latest LP recorded at David Barbe's Chase Park Transduction studio, bears the clearest sonic stamp of that ongoing relationship: The kaleidoscopic pop of Animal Collective ("Not Up to Me"), the booze-loosed grooves of Drive-By Truckers ("Untitled III") and the chameleonic rock of Deerhunter (take your pick) all loom large, like posters on the wall. Blessedly, New Madrid sounds beholden to none of them. With one foot in the spiky terrain of post-punk and the other in the quicksand of drone, there's a stylistic imbalance at play that keeps the hour-plus running time from wearing thin. "36 Grams of Sugar" is a two-minute New Wave bass-in-the-hole; two tracks later, "Guay Lo" rains instrumental napalm all over its 671 seconds. Where most bands would tack on a superfluous coda (or just stop short), "Magnetic Halo" and "Washing Machine" end the platter on its two sweetest notes — the dessert that you make room for. Midriff and Sweater Creep open. Tickets $10-$12.

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