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The New Pornographers

Whether the New Pornographers, a loose-knit group of Vancouver musicians (referred half-jokingly in promotional materials as a "supergroup"), will be able to keep equilibrium in the face of even minor indie rock fame, remains to be seen. But right now, they can levitate a room with a song.

With:
Band: Blaine Thurier, Carl Newman, John Collins, Kurt Dahle, Neko Case, Todd Fancey. Also appearing: Cinerama, the Organ.

Whether the New Pornographers, a loose-knit group of Vancouver musicians (referred half-jokingly in promotional materials as a “supergroup”), will be able to keep equilibrium in the face of even minor indie rock fame, remains to be seen. But right now, they can levitate a room with a song.

Despite having a terrible name — intended as a riposte to a Jimmy Swaggart comment, it sounds like a local news broadcast’s lead story during sweeps — the New Pornographers are one talked-about band these days. Their breezily tart new album, “The Electric Version” (Matador/Mint), has received unanimously ecstatic reviews, and Sunday’s Knitting Factory appearance was sold out. “This is a special night,” singer Neko Case joked. “It’s the first show we’ve ever had ticket scalpers.”

The album has the knockabout charm of music made under the commercial radar, filled with the infectious joy of sounds made just for fun; it’s the best power pop album released in a while.

Live, the band’s side project roots were still showing. The harmonies were occasionally ragged, cues were missed and a few bum notes were heard through the din. But they sprinted through their set with such breakneck exuberance you hardly noticed.

Songs such as “The Laws Have Changed” and “From Blown Speakers” erupt with a fleet sense of possibility, the dense keyboards and guitars vying with Case and Carl Newman’s bubblegum harmonies. And having the best time of anyone on stage, drummer Kurt Dahle leaps out of his seat, tosses his sticks in the air, adds another layer of vocals while playing like some mad progeny of Keith Moon, the Move’s Bev Bevan and Ringo Starr.

In a just world, “Electric Version” would be the record of the summer, blasting from every radio station and every boom box on the beach.

The New Pornographers play New York’s Bowery Ballroom July 11-12.

The New Pornographers

Knitting Factory; 500 capacity; $15

Production: Presented inhouse. Reviewed June 8, 2003.

Cast: Band: Blaine Thurier, Carl Newman, John Collins, Kurt Dahle, Neko Case, Todd Fancey. Also appearing: Cinerama, the Organ.

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