Somewhere between the Velvet Underground and the Pretenders (notably in singer Nina Donghia's Chrissie Hynde-esque sensuality), Coke Weed puts its own seductive spin on guitar-chimed indie pop.
The bleakness at the edges of "Strange" by San Francisco duo Callow (Red Moses and Sami Knowles) will linger long after the track fades away. So too will the honesty of this guitar-and-drums journey into the dark.
Hooks come in all manner of shapes, sizes and sounds. They could be an organ line, a clicking pattern of drum sticks, a thrumming bass line, a single vowel, repeated. The Crookes undestand that, and on "Afterglow" they pull out all the indie-pop stops.
The insatiable desire for something more -- from life, love and music -- is at the heart of rock 'n' roll. St. Louis band Pretty Little Empire gives an especially urgent and personal reading of that theme on the new track "Something More," which really is just that.
It's the season of the witch and all-night, horror-flick marathons, but "You Invented Horror" by the Relays doesn't traffic in Halloween clichés. Instead it chases away personal fears with blasts of guitars and rushing choruses.
As opening lines go, "He sets a table for two/Playing Bacharach, saying I love you," is about as romantic and deceptive as it gets. "If Only He Were You" by Pony Boy (aka Marchelle Bradanini) fulfills both promises.
The line "Just like a candle in the eye of a hurricane" may have echoes of a certain song about Marilyn Monroe, but "Hurricane" by producer D. James Goodwin's current project Snowflake isn't an elegy: it's a churning, tempestuous vision of art rock.
Recorded for the "You Be My Heart" benefit album for 826 Valencia, a non-profit for under-resourced students in San Francisco, "Mrs. Marquis de Sade" by the Cloud Room channels Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground at their most darkly playful and heartfelt.
Adrian Krygowski may not be a household name, let alone pronounceable at first go, but his gifts as a songwriter and a crafter of gruff yet lyrical Americana are hard to deny. One listen to new track "Roam" is all the proof you need.
The Wilhelms are a side project of John Wendland and Andy Ploof of veteran rock band Rough Shop. The duo's first single, "Love Don't Leave Me Now," pays tribute to the St. Louisians' love of folk music and the art of songwriting.