Emmet swimming wades into familiar waters with its new live album. 

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emmet swimming
CD release show
Alley Katz
9:30 p.m.
July 9
$7 in advance, $9 at the door

If you attend emmet swimming's CD release show at Alley Katz this Friday, you should hear exactly what to expect from the band's latest effort, "Earplugs 50.." But if you shrug your shoulders and yawn after the show, forget about buying the album. Emmet swimming recorded part of "Earplugs 50." live earlier this year at Alley Katz.


!S! "Earplugs 50."

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With "Earplugs 50.," also partially recorded at the 9:30 Club in Washington, the Fairfax rock quartet attempts to replicate the feeling of its live show, with all the marks of beauty, with all the warts and without the studio sheen.

"We decided to leave this album alone and to put it out in all of its naked splendor," says guitarist Erik Wenberg. "If someone was a little out of tune or if one of us didn't quite hit a note, it's all a permanent part of this album."

"Earplugs" contains 12 songs from the band's four-album career. Covers of "So Lonely" by the Police, and Billy Bragg's "Levi Stubb's Tears" also appear. It's the band's first live CD, but this release means more to emmet swimming than a return to the bold sound of live rock. The live album also announces the band's divorce from Epic Records, its label for three years and three CDs.

You might think a big-name contract is the Holy Grail of rock 'n' roll fantasy, but lead singer Todd Watts says the contract with Epic was an unwanted anchor that tied the band to stagnant water. "We feel sort of lucky ... to get out of there without any more obligation," Watts says. "I think if you had to encapsulate [the relationship with Epic] into one thing I would say that they just didn't understand us as a band."

Although the split with Epic disappointed the group, the resulting independence opened doors. With "Earplugs," the band returns to Screaming Goddess Records, the label that released their first record. Watts is sure Screaming Goddess will be a more comfortable home for the band. It's a smaller company and emmet swimming owns it.

Owning the record company loosens the reins, and allows Watts and the band to experiment with its music. And a smaller label, Watts says, ducks under the red tape that entangles a behemoth like Epic.

"Making an album [with Epic] was such a huge ordeal that we could only seem to put one out every two years," Watts says. "It's a great feeling to think that we could write 12 songs we like in July, make an album in August and have it on the streets in September. Every day we discover things that we couldn't have done before, this live album is one of those things."

With this fresh start, emmet swimming hopes to showcase its live act, and prove that the group is at its best on stage. "We wanted to make this live album for two main reasons," Watts says, "to give people a sense of how our songs are different live than on any of our albums, and [to allow] them to take home the live experience."

The strength of emmet swimming has always been its live show, the band says. With "Earplugs," it hopes to recapture the intensity of a struggling band on tour, sweating its way to the

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