Lifers negotiating the border between the allusive and the declarative, singer-songwriter- guitarist-keybman Britt Daniel and drum henchman Jim Eno tour with a live bassist and an extra keyboardist-guitarist, the better to simulate the dynamic tension they piece together so skillfully in the studio. Sometimes you’ll understand what they’re driving at. And when you don’t, the healthy effort of trying will be eased immeasurably by their hooks and beats.
Mates of State
If Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel’s marriage is as sweet and strange and beautiful as their music, then everyone should be so lucky in love. Using swirling, carnivalistic organs (her), hearty drums (him), and close, sharp vocal harmonies (both), the guitar-free band spins a delicate pop music equivalent of cotton candy. What’s a better accompaniment to a day at the beach?
Brendan Benson’s all boxed in.
His career killed by the Spice Girls then resurrected by Jack White, Benson just keeps chugging along with his airtight powerpop, hoping to steal a few New Pornographers fans along the way. Plus, dude recently told the Voice that he thinks he’s better than the Beatles. That much confidence has to count for something. PHILLIPS
Ta Det Lugnt, the third album by Gustav Ejstes’s long-haired Swedes, is the most light-show-worthy 1968-style psychedelic heavy-rock record since, um, 1968. When they played here a few months ago, it was as an unplugged duo (with traditional Swedish fiddle tunes!), but this time they’ve got the whole electric crew. WOLK
VHS or Beta
With the Killers in regular radio rotation, the lack of imagination demonstrated by similarly disposed bands is becoming increasingly apparent. The new wave pastiche is quickly getting old, which exposes this Louisville quartet’s songwriting and charisma limitations, but middling dance rock is still sounding better than most screamo or whatever they’re calling grunge these days. WALTERS
Q and Not U
The word on these D.C. punks is that they are “taking time off from the band,” so you’d better see them while you still can. Especially since last year’s excellent effort Power was their best album yet, seamlessly blending lefty politics with urgent melodies, spastic drums, and Prince-like falsettos for an effect that often sounds like the Rapture covering Fugazi. RABER
Montreal’s finest (and funniest) orchestral-pop outfit, singer-guitarist Murray
Lightburn’s Dears strip Radiohead’s itchy-scratchy paranoia of its tech-boom roots and work themselves up over the betrayals of misbegotten lovers instead. Onstage they sacrifice some of the contours of last year’s terrific No Cities Left but offer volume and urgency in their place. WOOD
He leaves hip-hop behind for a rock album, then realizes that wasn’t all it was cracked up to be either, so he returns to indignation as form itself, not genre, on his most recent album. Interesting, but not as much so as his new mix tape
Real Niggery Vol. 1, with its collection of freestyles and blends, which hopes to place him in the hip-hop pantheon he’s so unsure he wants to be a part of. CARAMANICA
Perhaps the N York rock scene’s most modest band, this neo-shoegaze outfit plays its dreamy, tuneful guitarscapes with none of the swaggering entitlement of the Strokes set. Which, sure, means you have to listen twice as hard—but there’s mellow gold awaiting those that do. WOOD
These Queens butt-rockers sound like every great Cheap Trick, Cars, and Thin Lizzy song rolled into one, then smothered in so many layers of irony that a line like “She looks good/Swiss cheese/Head full of holes” comes across as utterly sincere. Pass the Aqua Net, man. PHILLIPS
Like an Old Navy commercial as interpreted by Vivid Video, silhouettes of tits and spread legs decorate Morningwood’s ’70s-porno-surfer-themed website. Likewise, the band’s not-that-innocent bouncy electro vibes rub up against Sunset stripper rock ‘n’ roll. And damn if Chantal Claret couldn’t freak the skin off a banana with that sass of hers. FURY
Be Your Own Pet
Though they really should allow the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at least a chance to screw up a second album, these young Nashvillians are already gunning for the YYYs’ spot on MTV2: They’ve got the amped-up glam-trash guitars, the instantly catchy choruses, and the wild-child frontlady in blond-haired Jemina Pearl. Luckily for Karen O, it’s currently illegal for Pearl to pour beer over herself. WOOD
Local homeboys the Detachment Kit have this freaky postmodern thing going, in a visual and aural sense. They blend every indie sound from the past 10 years into their repertoire, so to pin down a sound would be tough. Even though the loud Kit would surely please the crowd, it’s their slow jams that are actually their most poignant offerings.
Nine Black Alps
Four scrawny, scraggly-haired, flannel-clad lads from Manchester, Nine Black Alps play explosive teen-spirit rock caked in soft/loud dynamics and alternate tunings left over from the first Bush administration. Unlike the Vines, they don’t suck. In other words: The grunge revival starts NOW. PHILLIPS