Abigail Everdell

  • Sonny & the Sunsets, 'Tomorrow Is Alright' (Fat Possum)

    Fanciful whimsy and weary self-deprecation should be at odds, but Sonny Smith invokes them both with a shrug on his band's low-key garage-pop debut. Originally released on limited vinyl in 2009, Tomorrow Is Alright pairs the fireside wisdom of "Too Young to Burn" and done-in romanticism of "Strange Love," then veers to the campy sci-fi narrative of "Planet of Women" and wry sexual mythology of "The Houris," with its barnyard sing-along, finger snaps, and tinkling bells. Throughout, Smith evades preciousness on the strength of his modest, effortlessly charming melodies. BUY: Amazonsrc="http://www.spin.com/sites/spin.com/files/imagecache/huge_page_view/site s/spin.com/files/amazon.jpg">

  • Health, '::DISCO2' (Lovepump United)

    This Los Angeles quartet augment the scathing buzz-saw noise and artillery percussion of last year's Get Color album with a batch of audaciously free-handed remixes. Jacob Duzsik's vaporous, disembodied vocals float above phlegmatic chillwave grooves (CFCF's "Before Tigers" and Small Black's "Severin"), while Crystal Castles' "Eat Flesh" amplifies a battering drum line with jagged chiptune blips. But the new "USA Boys," mixed by Alan Moulder (My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails), is a true redefinition-bridling the band's dynamic intensity around a hiccupping synth and thudding heartbeat. BUY:Amazon

  • High Places, 'High Places vs. Mankind' (Thrill Jockey)

    This Los Angeles–via-Brooklyn duo, known for wide-eyed naturalism and home-crafted, sample-based songwriting, explore an edgier mood on their second album. Rob Barber intensifies the band's trademark polyrhythms with snappy post-punk bass and eerie dub echoes on disco-leaning tracks like "On Giving Up," while singer Mary Pearson eschews lyrics about happy trees for stories of loneliness and alienation. "I am a plant beaten down by the weather / I've been too long in hibernation," she laments on "Constant Winter." BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Dum Dum Girls, 'I Will Be' (Sub Pop)

    Kristin Gundred used to front San Diego post-punk band Grand Ole Party, but nowadays she's known as "Dee Dee," the enigmatic, perpetually black-clad force behind Dum Dum Girls' murky garage pop. On her Dum Dum debut, assisted by Blondie and Go-Go's producer Richard Gottehrer, she cages contagious odes to husband-Crocodiles singer Brandon Welchez (as well as anxious ruminations on losing him) in metallic distortion. But even the scuzziest textures can't hide Dee Dee's lush alto: On "Jail La La," she doesn't just flare into the red, she gleams into it. BUY:Amazon

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    Hot New Band: Thao With the Get Down Stay Down

    Thao Nguyen has a strange feeling about loitering in airports. "I love it!" exclaims the sweet-voiced singer-guitarist. "You can even ask the dudes" -- bassist-keyboardist Adam Thompson, 25, and drummer Willis Thompson, 26 (no relation). Though the jaunty folk-rock trio came together nearly four years ago on the Virginia college club circuit, each member has since settled in a different city (San Francisco, New York, and Richmond, respectively), making air travel essential. "Every time we plan to meet, we have to wait until everyone's plane lands, and then we can all get in the car," Nguyen, 25, explains. "It's just like Ocean's Eleven!" Or a fairy tale. "The band's career has been charmed," she says. It's hard to disagree. In 2005, acting "totally out of character," she e-mailed a download link for her self-released Like the Linen album to Laura Veirs, one of her favorite singers.

  • Real Estate, 'Real Estate' (Woodsist)

    As evidenced by song titles like "Pool Swimmers" and "Let's Rock the Beach," New Jersey–based foursome Real Estate traffic in placid, self-consciously coastal summertime jams. Even when frontman Martin Courtney moves beyond the ocean-side themes to reminisce dreamily about his suburban hometown ("Carry me / Back to sweet Jersey," he pleads at one point), the music's trembling guitar plinks and muffled percussion create a languid, sun-blanched mood. The relaxed, repetitive melodies are certainly pleasant, but when a group's template is this familiar and undemanding, congeniality isn't much of an achievement. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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    Just Us Girls

    "This is what I'm talking about!" Christopher Owens slams his hand down on a wooden tabletop in a San Francisco diner, sloshing chicken soup out of his bowl. The singer-guitarist for Girls, the fledgling band responsible for the year's most captivating -- if not outright best -- debut album, is referring to a moment two years ago, after he and partner Chet JR White posted their band's first song, "Lust for Life," on MySpace. A fan had approached Owens at a Los Angeles show, opening her diary to a page on which she had transcribed the lyrics and elaborately pasted pictures of her and her friends all around them. Stirred by the memory, Owens straightens up, pulling his dirty-blond hair into a pile on top of his head.

  • Vivian Girls, 'Everything Goes Wrong' (In the Red)

    On their second album, Brooklyn's garage rockettes bob through another bar-rage of deadpan, harmony-laden Spector speedballs. While the Vivs split their brief debut between love's giddy yays and embittered nays, here they focus almost protactedly on the latter. Through the fuzz and rumble, singer-guitarist Cassie Ramone is blisteringly resentful ("You're My Guy"), introspectively confused ("The End"), and ultimately demoralized ("Before I Start to Cry"). But buck up, ladies! With such candid, cathartic punk rompers, they may never need a rebound. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Woods, 'Songs of Shame' (Shrimper/Woodsist)

    Woods may move in fuzzy lo-fi circles (frontman Jeremy Earl runs the Fuckittapes and Woodsist labels, which have released records by Wavves, Psychedelic Horseshit, and Blank Dogs), but the Brooklyn foursome's classic melodies don't take a Dustbuster to uncover. With a squeaky Neil Young falsetto, backed by shambly wah-wah guitar and mop-bucket percussion, Earl chirps blithely inscrutable lyrics through a strand of airy, bedroom-psych pearls. The wobbly, ten-minute "September With Pete" outlasts itself by half, but folk-pop bookends "The Number" and "Rain On" balance the sag. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Box Elders, 'Alice and Friends' (Goner)

    On their debut album's title track, Nebraska brothers Clayton and Jeremiah McIntyre describe a slap-dash neighborhood band who sings that "anything you wanna do should be all right!" And what this trio wanna do is blast through buoyant, unruly singalongs about necrophilia ("Necro"), staying up all night ("Stay"), and savage beasts (ahem, "Cougars") like they're the Black Lips' unabashedly dweeby cousins. Regardless, boppers as cheeky and infectious as these sound like sacraments in the church of lo-fi fun. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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