Rivaling XTC at their own game, Boston's Abunai! has fabricated not one vintage psychedelic-rock band (a la Dukes of the Stratosphear), but 11. "Abunai! Presents the Mystic River Sound" poses as a sampler album, presenting the vintage work of such forgotten (but wonderfully named) bands as the Seven Seals, the Scollay Squares and North End Molasses Disaster. Actually, though, all 12 songs were recorded by this Boston quartet, whose name means "watch out" in Japanese.
Psychedelic rock is a broad category, but to judge from this collection the Mystic River Sound was heavily indebted to Fairport Convention and Hawkwind; two of these selections are traditional English folk tunes once recorded by Fairport, although without the whooshing synth that separates Abunai!'s "Barbara Allen" from most previous versions. Spacey instrumentals like "Vanishing Point" prove that Abunai! is a '90s band, but most of these tracks are as day-glo as they wanna be.
Although Lenola is one of those home-studio indie-rock bands, it doesn't sound like one, at least not all the time. But then this eight-track-owning quartet (named for an imaginary place in its native New Jersey) doesn't sound like anything all the time. The band's third album, "My Invisible Name," starts in folkie territory, then wanders into art-punk drone, spacey psychedelia, electric noise and other styles guaranteed to keep it out of the mainstream.
The group's mode swings can be overly precious, yet there's songcraft beneath the sonic embroidery. This is the first Lenola album that started with composition rather than improvisation, and that had a disciplining effect. Singer-guitarist Jay Laughlin and his colleagues still enjoy homemade timbres for their own sake, but the melodic appeal of such songs as "Unsettling Down" and "Stood Up by a Cold Front" transcends the band's sound-lab approach.
Both appearing Saturday at the Black Cat with the Hurricane Lamps. To hear a free from Abunai!, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8122. For a Sound Bite from Lenola, press 8123. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)