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.
Chicago band of brothers (as in literally three brothers) the Safes channel all their love for classic Brit-Invasion rock like the Kinks and the just as classic American garage rock of the Sonics into their slightly poppy, always tautly-written songs. "Hopes Up, Guard Down" is a rock 'n' roll anthem for these guardedly hopeful days.
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.
Building from a whisper to a roar and then unbuilding back again, "Hush" by HAWK challenges everything you think you knew about the classic '90s shoegaze sound.
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.
Veteran alternative-rock band the Verve Pipe returned this year with its first studio album in over a decade and a revived feel for songwriting by founder Brian Vander Ark. Case in point, the catchy single "Crash Landing."
"I hope you know this song is all I've got left," sings Matthew Squires on "Echo," and you almost believe him. "It's the final thread tying down my mind." But the song, while serious about the meaning of music, is also relentlessly giddy, even silly, with the quirkily rhythmic sound of his band the Learning Disorders suggesting that if this tune really is the end, they'll all go down smiling.