Never underestimate the power of familial bonds, in music as in life. Brothers Aaron, Bryson, Ryan and Landon Baggaley, who perform together as the Los Angeles band Brown Shoe, channel those deep connections into the bold, thundering rock anthem "Lonely Beast," the title track of what will be an ambitious, three-part EP release this year.
The nervous, post-punk energy that powers "Waiting" by Montreal band Ought is only surpassed by the not-so-subtle social critique of its theme. "How long you been waiting?" isn't just directed at a lover. It's directed at all of us.
Brush up on your German and warm up to the graceful country folk of Desiree Klaeukens on the banjo and fiddle-laced track "Warm In Meinem Herz" ("Warm in My Heart").
Never content to repeat themselves, the duo of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, aka Wye Oak, venture into fully-synth (and cello and guitar) powered, fully-danceable dream pop on "The Tower," a track from their forthcoming album "Shriek."
"Slacker rock" really should be a genre descriptor/epithet we've long since retired. But if a rock musician is going to go for the California gold, he may as well sound wide awake and joyful doing it -- and that's just what Chris Pope and the band Blonde Summer accomplish on the irresistible "High Times."
Crafty and intricate, the music of Forsthays has undeniable echoes of Frank Ocean while still venturing into wholly new, wholly eclectic electro-R&B vistas. Case in point: the new track "Better Off Now."
Des Moines, Iowa band the River Monks take folk foundations -- banjo, guitar and close harmonies -- and then build and build from there, creating a mysterious, almost psychedelic sound on the new track "Beasts."
When you decide to take on a cover of Tears for Fears' best-known song, you'd better have a concept, and that concept best not be tongue in cheek. Vancouver band Bear Mountain somehow manages to put its own playful, experimental stamp on "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" while still paying homage to the sing-along catchiness that made the song such a pleasure to begin with.
"Strugglin'" by I Am the Albatross is more than just another lo-fi foray into gothic country. The Austin-based trio has sure-footed, bluesy musicality and a great Leonard Cohen quote to get you brooding along.
On "The Weight of It All," call-and-response vocals and a surging, guitar-lit chorus enrich the piano-based confessions of Newfoundland-born, Halifax, Canada-based singer-songwriter Kim Harris.