• Jaguar Love, 'Take Me to the Sea' (Matador)

    Johnny Whitney has made an art of singing like a deliriously deaf 12-year-old, but the debut of his new trio with Blood Brothers bandmate/guitarist Cody Votolato and ex–Pretty Girls Make Graves guitarist Jay Clark (now on drums) plays like a preteen daydream. With the Brothers' brutal bass and cubist hardcore squall swapped for sunny guitar strums and a steady beat, Whitney can be downright tuneful. But even his most exuberant, adolescent imitations of everyone from Cyndi Lauper ("My Organ Sounds Like...") to the Mars Volta ("Vagabond Ballroom") bear Whitney's trademark broken cry. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Mr. Gnome, 'Deliver This Creature' (El Marko)

    If it weren't for the willful, overweening weirdness that's apparently required of every proggy pop-metal album (see Coheed and Cambria, System of a Down), this record probably would've been made already. But it's approach was just too powerfully obvious. Why not give heavy, down-tuned, open-string riffs the unadorned beauty and poise to match the glistening production? This duo's debut full-length balances a soulful, feminine power that recalls Scout Niblett and a drummer who coldly demands dynamic shifts with almost electronic precision. It's an earnest tug-of-war. BUY: iTunes

  • The Bugs, '…The Bugs' (Hovercraft)

    After nearly a decade of summoning Buzzcocks and Daniel Johnston, this drums-and-guitar duo has finally mastered the art of insulting our intelligence with sweetness and charm (esteemed critic Richard Meltzer decries all rock bands in the liner notes, naming the Bugs the "lone exception"). A sense of humor lurks beneath the handclapping, two-chord stomp of "Fuckin' A Right," in which the deadpanned phrase "Yeah, I fuckin' know what you mean" ends each line. Yet the Bugs can also seem wistfully sage when they slow down and whine softer tunes, like "Stars & Stripes." Now Hear This: The Bugs- "Silver Train" DOWNLOAD MP3

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