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    Antony and the Johnsons

    What? When we last saw Antony and the Johnsons, they'd released their second album, 2005's I Am a Bird Now, to massive critical acclaim. Three years later they haven't lost steam. In anticipation of new album The Crying Light (out in January via Secretly Canadian), the band releases the Another World EP today, and it's full of what makes Bird so astonishing: Antony Hegarty's almost operatic voice imbued with a weighty sadness, overlayed with strings echoing the same feeling. "I need another world / A place where I can go," Hegarty sings on the EP's title track. "Hope Mountain," despite its title, doesn't offer much cause for optimism, instead delving deeper into the beauty-made-of-pain aesthetic. Who? Antony and the Johnsons (essentially a vehicle for Hegarty) saw their eponymous first record drop in 2000, but didn't hit big until the release of Bird.

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    Matthew Sweet

    What?Matthew Sweet is known for writing immaculate power-pop. He is also known for having his hit song, early '90s stonecold classic "Girlfriend," on Rock Band II. For which he is more renowned largely depends (sadly) on age. But on August 26, Sweet will release a new batch of tunes with Sunshine Lies that just may convert curious gamers in to actual fans, as it's filled with the same sugary hooks and hummable guitar lines as the remainder of his storied catalogue. Of course, it doesn't hurt when one is working with bona fide proto-punk guitar icons like Richard Lloyd (Television) and Ivan Julian (Richard Hell & the Voidoids), along with guitarist Greg Leisz and drummer Ric Menck (Velvet Crush).Ultimately, though, it's about the songs, and they're strong from the soft coo of "Byrdgirl" to the bop-along pop of "Let's Love." Who?

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    Black Kids

    What? In its snappy 15 minutes, the shambolic pop of veritable buzz behemoth Black Kids' debut EP, Wizard of Ahhhs (released for free via the band's MySpace page in August '07), leaves no doubt as to what spurred all the blog salivation. And "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You," the MVP of dance fiestas for the better part of a year that topped the extended-player, now arrives packaged with the band's debut full-length, Partie Traumatic, out July 22. Absurdly catchy -- from the cherry chapstick-coated kiss of "Hit the Heartbrakes" to the Morrissey-on-a-sugar-high singalong "Love Me Already" -- the new album is sure to leave fingerprints on the repeat button across the indie-rock realm. Who?

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    Oxford Collapse, Takka Takka Take Over Nation's Capital

    A steamy night in the nation's capital was the scene for a sold-out show at Black Cat's backstage last night, June 30. Glasgow's Frightened Rabbit were headliners, but the opening bands demonstrated how exciting music can be on this side of the Atlantic. Takka Takka and Oxford Collapse more than took over the stage, albeit in very different ways. Takka Takka initiated the proceedings, and serenity filled the room.

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    Mudhoney's Caustic Tunes Rekindle Grunge Love in DC

    It's a shame temperatures crept close to the triple digits last night (June 8) in Washington, DC, rendering any flannel shirt too stifling to don to Mudhoney's show at the Rock and Roll Hotel, for the Seattle-based grunge stalwarts rocked with the vengeance of the genre's early '90s heyday. Introduced by Cynics frontman Michael Kastelic as "possibly the greatest band in the world . . . and definitely the nicest band," Mudhoney didn't really bother proving the second proclamation, but seemed quite intent on living up to the first. And it was a piece of cake; Mark Arm and co.

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    Who? Portland, Oregon's Danava is Dusty Sparkles on vocals, guitar, synths, and keyboards, Buck Rothy on drums, Dell Blackwell on bass guitar, and Rockwell on synthesizers. Their second full-length, UnonoU drops Feb. 19 via Kemado, and you can catch them now through the beginning of April on their North American tour with Acid Mothers Temple (or at the Roadburn Festival in August, if you happen to live in Holland). What's the Deal? Is there such a thing as nerd-metal-core? Because that's what this sounds like (in the best way possible). Album opener "UnonoU," with Sparkles' guitar pyrotechnics and feral wails, comes off like a Zeppelin B-side, or at least something off a secret Guitar Hero level. The rest of the album righteously follows suit; "The Emerald Snow of Sleep" is as ridiculous as it sounds, all pained keening and Dungeons and Dragons synthesizers.

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    The Epochs

    Who? The Epochs' co-vocalists (and brothers) Ryan and Hays Holladay released Ten Billion Light Years of Solitude on their own in 2003 before recruiting Kevin Smith on bass and Kotchy on drums. After an appearance at the CMJ Music Marathon last fall and additional dates with the likes of the Mobius Band and Middle Distance Runner, the Brooklyn-bred foursome prepped for their proper self-titled debut LP, which drops Feb. 19 via the Rebel Group. What's the Deal? An epoch is defined as a singular period of time, which is strange as the Epochs draw from multiple decades in the creation of their sound. "Opposite Sides" finds the band using blips and bleeps like a stateside Radiohead, but that's not where the band's aural influences stop.

  • We the Kings

    Who? We the Kings is a foursome of young men fromBradenton, Florida. Comprised of Travis Clark on lead vocals andguitar, Hunter Thomsen on guitar and vocals, Drew Thomsen on bass, andDanny Duncan on drums, the band's self-titled debut LP is out now onthe S-Curve label. They will spend the New Year touring the U.S. withCobra Starship. What's the Deal? This is the soundof a million suburban teenagers hating their parents in unison -- whichisn't necessarily a bad thing, considering that the four Kings allhover pretty close in age to their prospective fanbase. "Check YesJuliet" transplants the Shakespearean lovers from the streets of Veronato the halls of high school with sugary hooks.

  • Say Yea for Yeasayer

    U Street denizens (and a few of their parents who had probablyheard about the band on NPR) waited in vain in the biting cold lastnight (Jan. 16) with hopes of scoring tickets to see Yeasayer,currently touring with MGMT,play a sold-out show at the tiny backstage of Black Cat. And if the keyto rock'n'roll music is the honest interaction between artist andaudience, then this show could have done no better for the lucky fewwho made it in. With dead flowers adorning the overheadlights, the scenester crowd swelled against the barely-there stagewhile Chris Keating crouched and jittered like a human Richter scale asif he was actually attached to the electronics on-stage. The livewirefrontman was only the most obvious manifestation of how plugged in tothe music the Brooklyn-based outfit was, though.

  • The 1900s' Kind-Hearted Ways

    They're a contemporary band whose name comes from a hundred years ago, but the 1900s are surely straight out of 1970 -- specifically from the party scene in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,a forgotten band sandwiched between the Carrie Nations and theStrawberry Alarm Clock. Last night (Jan. 9), that party was prettysmall, as the tiny Rock and Roll Hotel was made to feel expansive forlack of people. Nevermind that, though -- it just means there was moreroom to dance for the rest of us. Forget for a moment thatthere seemed to be barely more people in the crowd than the band (itnumbers seven -- the 1900s, that is), because everyone there swervedand swelled to songs like EP banger "Bring the Good Boys Home" and therecently released "Georgia," on which singer Edward Anderson went Southfrom way of their native Chicago to find the aural equivalent of a lazysummer afternoon.

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