Poppy band on Polyvinyl Record Co.

Rainer Maria consists of Kyle Fischer on guitar and William Kuehn on percussion, with Caithlin De Marrais on bass and vocals. The band formed at University of Wisconsin in 1995, when De Marrais joined up with Kuehn and Fischer. Sure, bass, guitar, drums and male/female vocals sounds pretty ordinary, but they're energetic and pleasing. To me, the music itself has a lot to do with contrast and dynamics. They move easily from loudness to quiet understatedness and even silence or from wonderful harmonies to enlivening discord. They can be melodious and wailing, and the lyrics are simple but not throwaway: De Marrais and Fischer met in a poetry workshop. And yes, the band is named after Rainer Maria Rilke, which is what prompted me to randomly give them a listen.

As college students and poets, they are self-aware of their borrowings. They use the words of others, of "people not only untouchably famous and dead, but also our peers"* like poet Eric Frost, who they knew from school. They're literary in that postmodern way where everyone's a borrower, but that doesn't make them coy or derivative.

??/95: demo cassette (self released)
02/96: v/a ooh do i love you 2cd compilation (song: "i love you too") label: core for care
05/96: v/a direction lp+7"/cd compilation (song: "sooyoung") label: polyvinyl
08/96: rainer maria cdep (polyvinyl)
01/97: new york: 1955 7" (polyvinyl)
10/97: past worn searching lp/cd (polyvinyl)
02/99: post marked stamps #9 split 7" (w/ hal al shedad) (tree records)
04/99: look now look again lp/cd (polyvinyl)
11/99: atlantic cdep (polyvinyl)
2001: a better version of me (polyvinyl)

If at all possible - if you have the chance ever at all, go see these kids. I can't help but love (now that i've seen them, now that i've seen them 3x) any band that has that much fun onstage. Despite the heat being on in an already hot venue - Kyle grimacing crookedtoothedly and bouncing is priceless. The sudden harmony after much dissonance and Caithlin's prowess and power emerging out of such a slight lil' thing pull you into some world other than that composed of the swaying indie kids all 'round you.

Plus, of course, i have to love them for the singalong they did after that one show. Any song anyone would yell out. Yeah, we sang U2, we sang the Cure. There were some 80s power ballads thrown in, too. Dang, they're cool, babble babble.

* Kyle, in interview at http://www.insound.com/zinestand/hodge/feature.cfm?aid=6346

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