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Sarah Dougher and the Star Death 

Friday, May 12; Centro Sociale

It's nearly mystical, how one person can shine the philosopher's stone into a song and beget gold, yet another can rub and rub, only to see the same chord progression sink like said stone. Sarah Dougher is an alchemist. Maybe it's her sturdy voice that holds together the songs on her second full-length, The Walls Ablaze (Mr. Lady). Maybe it's the brilliant lyrics, little word combinations that combine to yield song skyscrapers. Of course, it's the combination of both -- it always is.

Dougher, whom many know from her other projects (former member of the Lookers and the Crabs; current member of Cadallaca, along with Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker), writes songs that seem kinda clunky the first time you hear them. The chords change very deliberately, and she strains to sing them. But the deliberateness gathers a momentum all its own, until what you thought was clumsy just seems thick and hulking. This is one of those itsy shows that promises heaven for those willing to make the effort. Don't miss it.

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