Brooklyn, New York singer and songwriter Adam Levine, leader of Mappa Mundi, has no fear of sentiment. He knows that feelings need not be filtered through irony, even in the context of indie rock. On the lushly-arranged and folksy "So Obscure," he lays his heart on the line between bathos and beauty.
In the hard-charging, strummy, slightly skewed music of Chicago band the Handcuffs you'll hear echoes of the Killers and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But in the new track "Baby I Love You" you'll also hear glam-punk shot through with made-for-radio hooks.
St. Louis' Scottrade Center, (in layman's terms the House of Blues hockey), has the feel of pricey college stadium. It's large enough that one loses track of the merchandise booth's location, but small enough to save concertgoers the thigh-burning hikes of Busch Stadium.
Distilling their earlier indie sound through a mild synth-pop filter, TV on the Radio release "Seeds," an album full of intricate and catchy tracks that have the face of radio-friendly indie pop and the heart of TV on the Radio.
With an unstoppable synth hook, hard-charging guitars and a refreshingly vulnerable portrait of romantic bliss -- "When I come home from the day's end with nothing but a dream/She's telling me she loves, she says I've been so sweet" -- "Never Afraid" by Bo and the Locomotive is as good as the St. Louis band has ever sounded.
The complex, in-your-face art rock of Cleveland's Mr. Gnome belies just how fun it can be. "Melted Rainbow" isn't just artsy; it's a gloriously poppy, simply thrilling, slightly psychedelic anthem.
Around 2005, I stumbled upon the New Pornographers via one of those ubiquitous sampler CDs stuck in the middle of every music magazine of the aughts. The song "Use It" lead me to seek out the rest of the band's third album "Twin Cinema." It was love at first listen.