Ulysses

To be fair, if we do one Apples’ side project, we’ve got to another, right? This time it’s Robert Schneider, going where no Brian Wilson has gone before, and that’s rock ‘n’ roll. Quite a change of direction, but this is probably what he sings in the shower.

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Pedro the Lion

Until recently, Dave Bazan could have been filed under Great American Author or Songwriter. His arresting narratives of loneliness (“The Longest Winter”) and moral dissonance (“Rapture”) just so happened to be tuneful. On their latest, Achilles Heel, Bazan and company let the instruments do more of the talking which really brings the songs to life (“Discretion”). Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t change a note of their back catalog, but it is amazing what a little swirling keyboards or soaring guitar can do.

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Trans Am

Many artists have offered up the requisite anti-Bush song this summer; Trans Am opted for an entire album’s worth with Liberation. Not every track holds its own: “Uninvited Guest” is unoriginal B-side material, based on the well-circulated “Bushwhacked” MP3s. But the other two cuts featured here prove that Trans Am can make their point quite effectively by speaking softly and carrying a big bassline.

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Epic45

Often the best part of art films is the moody instrumental soundtrack. Thanks to Epic45, you can now get your moody instrumental soundtrack without having to sit through the art film.

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Bloc Party

Bloc Party churn out quirky, spastic post-punk curiosities that you can imagine were recorded in a bitter cold South London practice space around 1982 — only half of which could be true. Their debut LP drops September 14; the major label bidding war should start shortly thereafter (if it hasn’t already).

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Two Gallants

Young and well-read, this San Francisco duo have, thankfully, spent very little time listening to (and even less time being influenced by) their rock ‘n’ roll contemporaries. Instead they’ve forged these songs from their own blood, sweat, and tears, and brought them to life with the simple tools of voice, guitar, and drums.

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Comets on Fire

Sometimes a band’s name describes their music, sound, and modus operandi better than anything a fumbling music critic could come up with on an early Monday morning…

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(The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope

(The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope excel at producing that whirling, swirling D.C. (okay, mid-Atlantic, maybe even all the way up to Boston) indie sound. With ex-members of The Ropers and The Still joining founder Damien Taylor, and Lilys Kurt Heasley lending a helping hand, how could they not?
Your toes are gonna be tapping in no time. I guarantee it.

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Pilot to Gunner

Seaweed + Fugazi + Quicksand + Superchunk = Pilot to Gunner. Hey, this ain’t mathematics; no equation is perfect, but I’ll be damned if PtG aren’t channelling shards of four of my absolute favorite bands from the ’90s.

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