Consider Paperhaus shape-shifters, not quite ADD, but unwilling to stay with one sound for too long. But whether playing alt-county, psych blues or, as on the breezy new track "Helicopters," easy-going guitar pop, the Washington D.C.-based quartet always focuses on its songcraft.
Hailing from Harare, Zimbabwe, rapper and singer Blaq Carrie locks in on "Let There Be Hope" with socially conscious themes -- and a surprising Machiavelli quote -- over some tense and catchy acoustic guitar and piano samples. The sound is as persuasive as the message.
"The Coming Tide" by Luke Winslow-King offers a warning of a threatening storm, both spiritual and natural, but also a promise of shelter, in the swinging sound of pre-war jazz, blues and gospel music.
Chicago band Speck Mountain plays loud, thick, shoe-gazey rock with an aching lyrical core. "Lies," an otherwise unreleased B-side, has a heavy sound, yet somehow it still soars.
Invitations are rarely as seductive as "This Is the Beginning," a tart folk-pop tune by BOY -- the Hamburg-based duo of Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass -- that takes the familiar, youthful experience of being along in a strange city and learns how to make the strangeness sing.
"Wake Up," the B-side to new single "A Day Longer" by Cassie Morgan, begins as a quiet statement that builds to a full-blown declaration. The sound is dreamlike, but the singer is wide awake to a world of sound.
An electronic pop-tinged blast of fuzzy rock 'n' roll, "Don't Remind Me " by Jay Arner will wake you up from your lo-fi slumber.
On "Virginia Slims," the first single from Futurebirds' forthcoming album "Baba Yaga," the Athens, Ga. band drifts and dreams through all that's best about melodic, guitar-driven indie pop.
The latest from Montreal band Reversing Falls surges against the futility of this or any life. Sometimes a good snarl makes for a great hook, not to mention an excellent antidote to ennui.
It shouldn't be a rare thing but it is: A young, critically lauded rock 'n' roll band ascends, even rockets to success on the strength of nothing but the force of its talent. Behold the latest evidence, "Always Alright," a new track from Alabama Shakes.