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Charm School

Tomorrow is today - Self-release

Many rainy afternoons spent with C-86 — the 1986 cassette-only compilation of simple and captivating "college rock" from London's New Musical Express magazine — seem to have influenced Tomorrow is Today, Charm School's first full-length release. There's plenty of that era's guitar jangle here, but the catchy musical interplay is enclosed around the confines of Mary O. Harrison's airy vocals. The frugal folk/rock of the quartet is a direct descendant of the skewed British post-punk of the Raincoats or the Shop Assistants.

The lean arrangements, honed by busy Athens producer Jason NeSmith, allow Jenny Hutton's backing vocals and guitar plenty of room to roam around bassist Jeff Thompson and drummer Govind Dixit's propulsive rhythm section. (Dixit's twin brother, Raj, is currently filling the bassist position, since Thompson received a professorship from Wake Forest University.)

Together, the band creates wafer-thin walls of catchy, slightly abrasive, power pop ("It's Love") that pogos in place ("The Neighborhood") on the outskirts of twee ("Piper Laurie"). Charm School tries hard to put a modern spin on old-school new wave ("Me and My Telephone"), bending spare harmonies and clever wordplay with generally successful results ("I Take You Out").

Like an unexpected meeting with an old lover, the album is comfortably distant, bittersweet, yet outwardly friendly and playful as it evokes fond respect for its storied history. For Charm School, Tomorrow may be today, but thankfully, today is firmly rooted in charming memories of the past.

Charm School plays the Earl Thurs., April 15. $5.