A.C. Newman

The New Pornographers resident pop auteur lead singer guy puts together his own set of finely polished gems that have the get-up-and-go (“Miracle Drug”) of his best efforts with the “supergroup” and the jaded sunshine (“Drink to Me Babe, Then”) of the late-great Zumpano. A few more like these from Newman and Ben Folds will have to work harder to get our attention.

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Royal City

I stumbled upon these tracks (if one can call a mis-click of a mouse a stumble). Of course, you can’t be without their great cover of The Strokes, “Is This It?” — but that’s no fluke. More pop than country, more lemonade than bourbon.

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Meow Meow

Christopher O’Brien’s gently wilting vocals find uneasy peace around screechy, scratchy, scrunchy sounds from a guitar that, like a good cowboy, just canĂ­t be tamed. Fans of dissonance, Meow Meow give you a twister-full of noise. Fans of pop craft, Meow Meow give you the bittersweet sunny day after the storm.

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Mahjongg is an ancient Chinese tile game responsible for the academic downfall of countless college students. The band Mahjonng has similar powers with their frenzied pop disarray (a la the supremely underrated Beatnik Filmstars). Be strong.

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With a penchant for literary lyrics, Puritan manage loose, almost off-handed pop songs to dark, dusty anti-ballads with a Malkmus-esque flair. Imagine Lloyd Cole making music in an American bedroom without the Commotions.

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Dave Derby

The former lead singer of The Dambuilders (if you don’t have Against the Stars, you’re not really living life to the fullest, are you?) and solo-monikered Brilliantine assumes his own name for his token easy-on-the-ears acoustipop record — except this is one token that shines.

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The Aisler’s Set

Amy Linton, indie pop/rock songwriter extraordinaire…and, damn, can she play the drums! You see, I love Amy from her days in the long defunct Henry’s Dress. Now we are blessed to hear her in the Aisler’s Set doing simple, pleasant songs tinged with the sounds of the ’50s and ’60s.

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