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by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he VHS or BETA debate is dead like doornails, but the battle over bands like VCR rages still. Did New Wave return with the resurgence of '80s fashion, or did the success of Neo Wave bands prompt the return of shredded metal shirts and angular haircuts?

We as a culture may never decide such debates, but bands like VCR make it a bit easier to decide whether or not bringing the wave back was a good idea. No mere Flock of Seagulls rehashers or over-ironic lampooners of new wave's nuke paranoia, VCR takes bygone synths and hardens the edges with a grasp of the intervening 20 years of pop history, hinting at the past without sinking too deeply into it.

They've got a bit of the core we've seen locally in Flee the Century, and it creates real heft, like those top-loading video cassette recorders of yore. Expect them to wield it like a bludgeon.

VCR at Rock Coffee with Flee the Century, LIMBS and A Taste of Silver on Monday, June 26, at 7 pm. Tickets: $5. Call 838-1864.

She may be dressed like a naughty little Boy Scout, but BRANDI CARLILE's music is all grown-up. She fits into that not-quite-a-genre of commanding female singer songwriters who don't sound like Ani DiFranco. A dying breed, perhaps -- especially given the number of waifs who broker in vulnerability -- but it's kept alive by the likes of Carlile, Fiona Apple and certain elder stateswomen (Lucinda Williams).

Like her forebears, homegirl's got a strong, gravelly voice and she uses it to powerful effect, touching on common pop themes -- falling in love, falling out of love -- with grit that's incredibly sexy, and no doubt inspirational for anyone who's been brokenhearted.

It'll also be nice for us music lovers, scared at the prospect of losing a great mid-sized venue like Fat Tuesday's. Brandi's determined to fight through it, and we should be as well.

Brandi Carlile at Fat Tuesday's on Wednesday, June 28, at 7 pm. Tickets: $12. Visit or call 325-SEAT.
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