Samantha Promisloff

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    All Points West '08 Recap: Saturday

    Ladies of the World Unite! Playing in her native New Jersey, Nicole Atkins emerged from the shadows as a new kind of American sweetheart, blending elements of warm country women of the past with '50s Supremes shoo-bops and pop melodies for a contemporary indie crowd. Atkins was a warm and Southern-tinged brand of stateside sass in comparison to Emily Haines, the lame jumper-clad Canadian sparkplug of Metric. Admirers and revelers of all genders and sexual orientations fixated on the riveting Haines, who electrified the more than laid-back afternoon. Aussie solo act Sia -- she of the billowing anthem "Breathe Me," currently ringing in HD across television screens nationwide in NBC's Olympic promos -- took a bit of a political stance, dressing her band members in T-shirts reading "VOTE." We could only assume they were talking about our election.

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    All Points West '08 Recap: Friday

    The New Pornographers and Grizzly Bear: Eating Indie Rock for Dinner: Grizzly Bear and the New Pornographers, two bands comfortably considered indie rock staples in their own right, played opposite each other, but the major difference between the two? Age. Choosing between these two was like being situated at the adult table or the kids table during a family holiday dinner. It was gray hair and cargo shorts at one end, or neon baseball hats and yes, a pretty good amount of kids sporting braces at the other. You could see New Pornographers play the more refined and classic songs -- like having a mature and intimate conversation for the sake of catching up.

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    Dr. Dog

    What? Many artists take time off to adequately unwind between albums, but Philly-based quintet Dr. Dog, which put out the excellent We All Belong just last year, will return July 22 with Fate, their fifth album to date. And if you're hearing familiar sounds on your stereo this summer, it's not deja vu, it's just the outfit's latest -- a creative and incredibly cohesive collection of songs that feels much like a '70s-flavored rock opera. But this time around, classic themes of growth, love, and living are translated through beautifully orchestrated tracks with reggae-inflected rhythms -- like "The Old Days" and "The Rabbit, the Bat, and the Reindeer" -- all the way to the album's stellar two-movement finale, "My Friend." Who? Boasting a time-honored career, Dr. Dog has garnered a comforting reputation for its repertoire of restorative and well-rounded indie pop-meets-classic rock sound.

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    Catch the Buzz: Jukebox the Ghost

    Who? With undeniably infectious hooks and never-boring pop formulation, D.C.-born, Philadelphia-based three-piece Jukebox the Ghost rekindle the communal, sing-along pop styling of '60s FM radio with their excellent debut full-length, Let Live and Let Ghosts. Boasting an array of influences (notably Ben Thornewill's training as a classical pianist), the guitar, drum, and piano outfit get hands clapping and pipes shouting in unison on everything from cheery verse-chorus-verse dittiesto dreamy multiple-movement miniature rock operas. Jukebox the Ghost is a refreshing reminder that the lighthearted electricity of a fantastic pop song is still filled with live wires. Recommended if you like...

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    Windsor for the Derby

    What?Windsor for the Derby find beauty in barren Texas with a mellow, driving drone of artful, amalgamative post-rock. Slow-burning and quiet, the band offers a more subtle version of the heavy and heady psychedelic atmospherics set forth by their fellow Austinites, the Black Angels. On How We Lost -- their latest effort for Secretly Candian -- they deviate slightly with the dancy calypso of "What We Want," surprising pop sensibility and modern rock radio tones of "Maladies," and the wavering wordless chorus of "Good Things" that emulates Explosions in the Sky. Who? Understated as their sounds, Windsor for the Derby has actually been a band for over a decade beginning with its first release Calm Hades Float in 1996.

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    Air

    What's the Deal? With an eclectic, drifting-in-midair-like mix of intricate pop songwriting and romanticized electronic renaissance, Air's outstanding studio debut Moon Safari has virtually invented the tangled indie rock make-out session of the past decade. And in celebration of the seminal album's 10th anniversary, a special Moon Safari box set arrives this week, dispatching not just the original 10-track record, but also a colorful book of extras, an accompanying DVD, and an bonus disc of selections that will shock fans devoted to Air's subdued side.

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    Pattern Is Movement

    What's the Deal? Artful Philly bred duo melds traces of the '70s with glitchy chamber pop, replete with warm keyboards and billowing walls of well-orchestrated sound. Rich layers of antique-inspired accents, erratic and driving drums, and sweetly double-tracked vocals are wound tightly together at a consistent and energetic pace. The clarity-filled formula is one that works -- and the band's latest effort All Together (May 6, Hometapes) is epic and understated in its own right. Ears will experience excitement with the heavy drum funk, flutes, and drumroll fury on tracks like "Trolley Friend" or the ambient cricket chirps on one of the many nature niche songs such as "Peach Trees." Who? PIM consists of an innovative pair of friends from Philadelphia with a constant creative craving.

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    Jaymay

    What's the Deal? The 26-year-old Jaymay, a.k.a. Jamie Seerman, vividly crafts series of vignettes that play like a novel, illustrating the intensity and incredible emotion that come with the highs and lows of an involving relationship in a setting as alive as New York City. With "Gray or Blue," the songstress boldly declares the sum of her strengths: "I'm winning you with words because I have no other way." Gracefully singing atop the intimacy of acoustic guitars, xylophone taps, and egg shakes, Jaymay also embraces accompaniment from organs and strings on standouts like "Blue Skies." With the lyrical dexterity of Bob Dylan and a stylish scat reminiscent of Madeline Peyroux or Billie Holiday, Jaymay also arrives with her own brand of introspection and intonation that fills the gaps and truly sets her apart from the pack. Who?

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    The Jet Age

    What's the Deal? The D.C.-based band draw from the post-grunge inspiration of Sugar and Bob Mould while exploring challenging rhythms like the gleefully erratic Dismemberment Plan. Their latest effort, however, integrates the grandeur and cohesion of the classic rock concept album: What Did You Do During the War, Daddy? deconstructs the helplessness and anguish associated with citizens forced to sit idly by as the country spins out of control. With politically charged tunes like "I Said, 'Alright'" and "False Idols," and deep, personal anthems like "Now We Are Three" and "Ladies, Don't Cry Tonight" book-ending the album like a Broadway musical, Eric Tischler's vivid songwriting. Not bad for a band that's situated right in Bush's backyard. Who? The Jet Age features Tischler (guitar/vox/keys), Greg Bennett (bass), and Pete Nuwayser (drums).

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    Evangelicals Exorcise Their Rock'n'Roll Demons

    It's hard to find many people who will make it out on a Monday night in downtown Athens, Georgia, but Norman, Oklahoma's outrageously awesome rock quartet Evangelicals made the west side of town come alive last night (Feb. 18) as they converted a crowd of in-the-loop music lovers at the Caledonia Lounge into psych rock believers. In a tiny space soaked in smoke, strobes, and blacklight-painted instruments, lead singer Josh Jones lit up the stage with his sizzling guitar and far soaring falsetto, conjuring everything between Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and a scare-laden shape of the Smiths. With a preemptive warning from Jones, fans settled in at a safe distance from the speakers overhead as the foursome -- which packed equal parts punk rock and roaring psychedelia -- thrashed their way through tunes from their latest long-player The Evening Descends.

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