Who? Art in Manila is the latest progeny of Omaha, Nebraska's Saddle Creek label. The sextet is comprised of former Azure Ray starlet Orenda Fink on vocals and guitar, Adrianne Verhoeven on keys and vocals, Dan McCarthy on keys, Steve Bartolomei on guitar, Ryan Fox on bass, and Corey Broman on drums. The band's debut LP, Set the Woods on Fire, arrives Aug. 7, just prior to the band's fall jaunt opening for Rilo Kiley. What's the Deal? When Azure Ray, Fink's ethereal pop duo with fellow Alabaman Maria Taylor, disbanded in 2004, she amped up the country with her solo offering, Invisible Ones, a contemplation on spirituality filled with death and God and maybe redemption -- "prophets, pimps, angels, whores," as she sang -- and plenty of Southern Gothic heaviness.
Who? Action Painters -- Tom Haslow (vocals/guitar), Jon Levine (bass), Allison Zatarain (keys), and Amit Wehle on drums -- come from the indie incubator of Brooklyn. The quintet is currently touring the East Coast in support of their seven-song debut, Chubby Dancer, out now via the Girl Group. What's the Deal? For such a short record (clocking in at under thirty minutes), Chubby Dancer displays a pleasingly shocking bit of range. Action Painters do twinkly heartache with the best of them ("Cold Dead Corner"), and their up-tempo numbers ("Never Say I'm Sorry") are convincingly jagged. It's when they let the excitement of being young and romantic and stupid make them dizzy, though, that they excel.