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Sarah Tomlinson

Bands to watch out for Promising local releases in ’06

Winter in Boston is like being grounded. Too many housebound nights, and we’re bored, stir-crazy, and filled with the overwhelming sense of injustice at being stuck in here while the whole world goes on out there. Just as back when we were serving time in our rooms for missing curfew, mouthing off, and getting caught with all matter of contraband, our stereo is the only link to the outside world that matters. The good news is that a number of major players in the local rock scene are set to deliver new music in the next few months that will keep us sane until our exile ends and we rock again next spring.

Still riding high from the fervor surrounding their 2004 comeback, OnoffON (Matador), revered art-rock innovators Mission of Burma will drop their third studio album on May 9. The as-yet-untitled disc was recorded in September at Q Division in Somerville. Fourth member/tape manipulator/sound engineer Bob Weston, also of Shellac, helmed sessions that produced 14 new songs including “Good, Not Great,” “Nancy Reagan’s Head,” and “Ridiculosity.” Bassist/singer Clint Conley has said the band are playing better than ever before. But don’t worry, some things never change. “We always want things savage and scary, and I think it [the album] gets there,” Conley says via e-mail.

Cabaret-punk exhibitionists the Dresden Dolls are also riding some major momentum in the wake of their 2004 homonymous debut, what with the release of their first DVD, Paradise, and that support slot for Nine Inch Nails last year. Their follow-up, Yes, Virginia (Roadrunner), is due April 25. They recorded it in September at Allaire Studios in upstate New York and Camp Street Studios in Cambridge, with Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade, and to judge from song titles like “First Orgasm” and “Me and the Minibar,” which join favorites from their live shows like “Sex Changes” and “My Alcoholic Friends,” they’re still shaking up their trademark cocktail of confession and transgression.

Having just trounced a kick-ass opening slot for Bon Jovi, heavy metal-huffing rockers Damone support Less Than Jake on a national tour this winter. They’re still awaiting the Island/Def Jam release of the as-yet-untitled follow-up to their 2003 major-label debut, From the Attic (RCA), which has been pushed back until June. But we’re told it’s worth the wait. According to their manager Pete Galli, who also guides the Bravery and Bleu, heavyweight engineers Tom Lord-Alge (Marilyn Manson, Rolling Stones, U2, etc.) and Mike Shipley (Def Leppard/Mutt Lange/Shania) mixed tracks recorded at the Allston apartment of singer guitarist Noelle LeBlanc and drummer Dustin Hengst.

Claim her as a local while you can. Twenty-year-old Scituate native Casey Dienel is moving to New York City later this winter after studying at New England Conservatory for several years (see Camille Dodero’s interview with her in “ID Check”). She recorded her solo debut, Wind Up Canary (Hush Records; March 7), on a piano she’d hijacked from the lobby of a Cohasset hotel and transported to an abandoned caretaker’s house on a farm in Leominster. The disc was helmed by producer Jim Reynolds, her band mate in local indie-pop group Tigersaw. Orchestrated with banjo, saxophone, and clarinet, Dienel’s precocious jazz-baby vocals and expressive piano playing add up to an enticing speakeasy charm.

Our resident Renaissance man, Rick Berlin, breaks from his many works in progress — the documentary film, the musical-theater production, the cabaret-styled shows he hosts around town — to sing his heart out for us once again. Having disbanded his indie lounge act the Shelley Winters Project, he’s stripped it back to just his wry, winsome vocals and insistent piano on a new solo album, Me & Van Gogh (Hi-N-Dry), that’s due February 7. Recorded at the Hi-N-Dry loft in Cambridge on Mark Sandman’s acoustic piano, with Billy Conway (Morphine) and Tom Dube (Richard Thompson) at the board, the disc is at once inflamed and tender.

Give it up for Coinstar. The Beatings said they’d release their second album, Holding onto Hand Grenades (Midriff Records), when they scrounged up enough change from their sofas, and that time is now. They celebrate with a CD-release show at T.T. the Bear’s on January 19. Like the tasty five-song EP If Not Now, Then When?, which they released last August, the new material was produced by Paul Kolderie and recorded by Tim Shea at Allston’s Analog Divide, and it boasts plenty of likably off-kilter indie rock.

The kids who have been waiting eagerly to do as the Lot Six instruct on their third album and Get Baked on Youth Kulture will finally get smoked out when the album drops in late winter or early spring. The vinyl-only release comes courtesy of their friends at New York City–based Plastic Records and has plenty of favorites from their fiery, sweat-drenched shows, including the gorgeous slacker lover song “Ho Hum (Ho Hum).” The sad-eyed country punks in Lot Six offshoot Frank Smith are quickly following up the July release of their third album, Think Farms (Lonesome Recordings). They’ve already got an April 1 show booked at Great Scott to celebrate their latest, Red on White, which they plan to self-release. Recorded this past fall at New Alliance with Ethan Dussault, the eight new songs have some dark moments tempered by pretty banjo, according to frontman Aaron Sinclair.

Having taken leaps and bounds in their songwriting and musicianship since their already quite excellent 2003 homonymous debut (on Man with a Gun), indie-rock melody makers Mittens return with a 12-song album that includes one live track. It was recorded with Pete Weiss in Vermont and mastered earlier this month with Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East. They’re in talks with Dan Shea of Weymouth-based label/promotions force Bodies of Water Arts and Crafts to release the disc and book a January tour, which will take them to Chicago.

Electro-rock instigators the Campaign for Real-Time condense their high-energy, anything-goes live show into an atmospheric, effects-laden debut, Yes . . . I Mean, No (Curve of the Earth), that was mastered by drummer Nick Zampiello and produced by his New Alliance colleague Ethan Dussault. Big Scary Monsters will handle it on the British side of the pond. The band helm a CD-release show at Great Scott on January 19 with Certainly, Sir and Mad Man Films. Now sophisticated rockers, the Bleedin Bleedins celebrate the release of their debut, Life Without Computers, with a January 27 show at T.T.’s with Dear Leader and the December Sound. And drama-rockers Mascara take over the Lizard Lounge on January 20 for a CD-release party in honor of their new Spell (Mr. Fibuli’s Records), which they recorded with Hendrik Gideonse at Indecent Music.