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    The Cool Kids

    What's the Deal? The Cool Kids' slow, deliberate vocal flow coupled with simple rhythms harkens back to the glory days of acts like Boogie Down Productions and EPMD. And the duo's much-anticipated sophomore EP, The Bake Sale, which is their first commercially available disc, flaunts the Windy City natives' vintage influences with ten tracks both new and old. "88" smolders like a N.E.R.D reinterpretation of Run DMC's "Peter Piper," chock full of throwback hip-hop style and a smooth recital of a hook from "The Safety Dance." And "Black Mags" just may go down as the smoothest ode to BMX bikes ever recorded over a beat easily duplicated on an Amiga. Who? The Cool Kids are a different kind of internet coupling. Chuck Inglish met Mikey Rocks three years ago through MySpace --an online community where the duo eventually culled many of their fans.

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    Tiger Lou

    Who? Stockholm, Sweden's Tiger Lou is the brainchild of Rasmus Kellerman, lead songsmith in charge of playing and producing the band's material, but Pontus Levahn (drums/vocals), Erik Welén (bass/vocals) and Mathias Johnsson (guitar) flesh out Tiger Lou's hypnotic dreamscape in a live setting. In 2003, Kellerman released the Trouble and Desire EP; studio full-length Is My Head Still On? followed in 2004. The Loyal, the band's proper U.S. debut, is out this week via the Eyeball label. What's the Deal? Each song on The Loyal is a quietly forged path of deliberate and brooding pop intensity. Album bookends "Woland's First" and "Woland's Last" are a dervish of softly circling, dulcet 'forwards or backwards?' tones.

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    The Hands

    Who? Fuzzy throwback rockers the Hands formed from the remnants of Olympia, Washington bands the Measurements and Cougar Fucking Mountain. John Healy (guitar/vocals), Eli Chuckovich (guitar/vocals), Jordan Locke (piano/vocals), Michael Tyler (bass/vocals) and Cary Davis (drums) released the self-produced So Sweet EP in 2006; their self-titled studio full-length drops Feb. 19 via the Seattle-based imprint SelectorSound. What's the Deal? The Hands is full of stern, buzzing basement rock with Rolling Stones-like swagger. Solo-laden burners such as "Lies Lies Lies" and "Dry County" are equal parts Hellacopters and the Animals, while opener "Six Gun Hand" lays down straight up barroom stomp. Soulful "Wade in the Water" measures up to the high points of Dead Moon and Detroit garage rockers the Sights.

  • Future of the Left

    Who? Andrew Falkous (guitar/vocals), Kelson Mathias(bass/vocals) and Jack William Egglestone (drums) are the currentincarnation of Cardiff, Wales' Future of the Left. Formed from thedissolution of neighboring bands in 2005 (Mclusky, Jarcrew), the aggrorock outfit dropped three seven-inch records before releasing thefractured punk-tinged full-length, Curses on Too Pure, earlier this fall. A European tour with Against Me! wrapped in November. What's the Deal? Save for the oddly cute piano piece that closes Curses,Future of the Left thrashes likes a rabid modern day concoction ofNoMeansNo, Jesus Lizard and Jello Biafra. The repeated mantra,"Violence solved everything" on album-opening dirge "The Lord Hates aCoward" sets the tone for what serves as a Chinese Fire Drill of analbum.

  • The Dimes

    Who? Johnny Clay (vocals/guitar), Pierre Kaiser(guitar/vocals), Ryan Johnston (bass/vocals/melodica) and Jake Rahner(drums/vocals) make up the lulling Portland, Oregon-bred pop act theDimes. The band's debut full-length, The Silent Generation, drops this week via the Pet Marmoset label. What's the Deal? Many songs on The Silent Generationare lyrically inspired by stacks of preserved Depression-era newspapersthat Kaiser found under the old floors of his Portland home. Clayinitially read the papers for fun, but found that the characters andsituations he read about bled into his songwriting (which blends swirlsof the Shins with the diversity of the Arcade Fire). The best exampleis the sparkling pop gem "Paul Kern Can't Sleep," the tale of a WorldWar I vet who took a bullet to the head and lost the ability to sleepfor 30 years.

  • Paper Rival

    Who? Formerly known as Keating, this four-piece laysdown cascading, dreamy guitar pop. Singer Jake Rolleston, bassist CodyMcCall, and guitarists Patrick Damphier and Brent Coleman came togetherin late 2005 when their previous two bands split up (Damphier playsdrums in the studio, though Dillon Napier's been handling the sticksmost recently). The band's self-titled EP is out now via the PhotoFinish label; a full-length recorded concurrently, One Not One, is due in early 2008. What's the Deal?Paper Rival spins lush tunes that don't fall into the usual trappingsof overacted melodrama. "Home Is Right Out Your Window" pushesstuttered emo-light guitars to stirring effect, while the lazy"Alabama" unfurls through a gentle swell into a release worthy of themost touching of movie scene soundtracks.

  • Innerpartysystem

    Who? Main songwriter and vocalist Patrick Nissleyformed electronic rocking Innerpartysystem with Kris Barman (keyboards,guitar), Jarred Piccone (drums, beats) and Jesse Cronan (keyboards)amongst the go-nowhere small towns surrounding Reading, PA. The band's Download EP was recently re-released with a pair of bonus tracks; a studio full-length on Stolen Transmission is due in Spring 2008. What's the Deal?Innerpartysystem deftly toe a thin line between anthemic pop-rock andmelodramatic electro-pop.

  • Baby Elephant

    Who? Baby Elephant's musical pedigree runs deep and long through esteemed producer Prince Paul (Stetsasonic, Handsome Boy Modeling School) and original Funkadelic keyboard legend Bernie Worrell (also Talking Heads). Longtime Prince Paul co-collaborator Newkirk rounds out this trio, which churns out a resonating blend of funk and soul with more than a touch of weird on the full-length Turn My Teeth Up!, which dropped this month via Brooklyn-based imprint Godforsaken Music. What's the Deal? As expected, Prince Paul and Newkirk bring the humorous skits, deep grooves and What the hell?!?!?! moments as Worrell alternately dresses and undresses the tracks with his trademark keyboard whirls.

  • Scenes From a Movie

    Who? Scenes From a Movie spawned forth from a pair of young guitarists tired of writing songs without vocals or a rhythm section. Luke Delpapa (guitar) and Jon Ewing (guitar) convinced Ewing's ex-bandmate and then-bassist Tony Bush (vocals) to drop out of college to join the developing band. Drummer Jared Miller completed the rhythm section, and the band was complete with Adam Triplett taking over on bass (Bush readily admits he wasn't very good). The band's spot on this summer's Warped Tour served well to promote Scene's From a Movie's 'soundtrack for high school'-styled debut album, The Pulse, out now on One Big Spark. What's the Deal? The Pulse ultimately serves as a mash-up of modern day melodic rock styles -- ultra-snappy "Just Ask Us" opens the album like Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump fronting the Alkaline Trio.

  • No Age

    Who? Los Angeles duo Dean Spunt (drums/vocals) and Randy Randall (guitars) assumed the No Age identity in 2006 after the demise of their hardcore trio, Wives. Where the previous act relied more on sound blasts (i.e.: Rapeman, Minutemen, Arab on Radar), Spunt and Randall provoke more thought with this new project, which takes the shape of a cerebral Black Dice/My Bloody Valentine meld on Fat Cat's 2007 full-length, Weirdo Rippers. What's the Deal? Weirdo Rippers is the sound of influences and genres clashing in a bloody heap of surgically precise mayhem. The soothing opening of "Every Artist Needs a Tragedy" bleeds into a gritty garage wail, while "Dead Plane" meanders from atmospheric tonality and dreamy guitar lulls into a buzzing, tone-deaf Ramones-esque romp.

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