If you're not hearing echoes of the Smiths in cross-country (as in Brooklyn, New York and Austin, Texas) band Little Cinema, you should probably see an otolaryngologist. But new track "When You Think of Me," is more than just a jangle-wave homage. It's state-of-the-art, melancholy indie pop.
Jackson Browne wrote "These Days" when he just a teenager, but the song has become something of a standard, a song that reveals new feelings and meanings every time it's sung with soul. And that's just what Chicago-based singer-songwriter (and Fort Frances frontman) David McMillin does on this new solo acoustic version.
A heady, somehow sunny -- the wordless, melodic scatting doesn't hurt -- shower of post-rock jamming, "Lighthouse" by Bensalem, Pennsylvania band the Burgeoning has dynamics to burn.
"We Got Away (This Time)," a new track by Raiders of the Lost Art, vaults over the band's goofy name and synth drones for a fuzzy, twitchy and surprisingly vulnerable indie-pop call to believe and reconcile.
San Francisco-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jesse Cafiero started Split Screens as a solo endeavor, enlisting just enough musicians to flesh out his songs. On the new track "Home," however, he stretches out, with piano and horns driving the full-band R&B groove.
London-raised, New York-based singer and songwriter Cariad Harmon comes into her own on the sparkling and soulful ballad "Like You," a love song meant for clapping and humming along to, if ever there was one.
Like a polished update of the ever-elusive sound of the Band, Hiss Golden Messenger's "Saturday's Song" rollicks and rolls with sweet mandolin, piano, country-funk guitar and a rhythm meant for skipping all the way from front to back porch, and never spilling a drop of whiskey along the way.
Tailor made for indian summer, "September Fields" stretches out with an easy-going soul groove -- dig the horns, dig the B3, dig the responsive harmonies -- and Frazey Ford's expressive, trilling voice. Like a warm fall day, you wish it would last forever.
"There's no hope for myself trying to be a good pearl," sings Arum Rae on the brooding "2001." "Tried to walk the line and see the light/But as the sun sets, the lonelier I get." Backed by grimy electro-blues and with her voice filtered as if through a cistern, she doesn't just sound haunted. She sounds like she has personal hellhounds on her trail.
J Mascis, leader of heavy-rock band Dinosaur Jr., continues his acoustic explorations with the gorgeously harmonized and elegantly finger-picked "Wide Awake." The write my essay song may be unplugged but it's fully charged with electric imagination.