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This list offers insight into the cutting-edge clientele who don't give a damn about mainstream acceptance. They just want to rock, indie-style.





Interpol: "PDA" and "Obstacle 1"
Get to know these New York scenesters now, because soon everyone will be imitating their suit-and-tie dress and sound. They take moody 80s rock and make it new, best embodied in these two great songs off their full-length debut, Turn on the Bright Lights--which you should own, if for no other reason than to get some street cred.

  "PDA"
  "Obstacle 1"
  Bands A-Z: Interpol
Bright Eyes: "Bowl of Oranges" and Fevers & Mirrors
Straight outta Nebraska, Conner Oberst writes literate, inspired lyrics to go with his catchy pop songs on an obviously shoestring budget. The Fevers and Mirrors CD put a stronghold on the college campus clientele with intense storytelling and offbeat instrumentation. "Bowl of Oranges" is a folksy jaunt about the healing powers of being creative.

  "Bowl of Oranges"
  Bands A-Z: Bright Eyes
Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Alternative country-rock is spelled W-I-L-C-O or, more specifically Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The jangly guitars, eerie pianos and zooming synthesizers of this rock record with a blade of grass sticking out of its mouth are the supple sounds of guitarist/songwriter Jeff Tweedy. It's a splendid album that, to the surprise of everybody (including the record label that dropped them), hit #13 on the Billboard charts.

  Bands A-Z: Wilco
Cat Power: "Nude As The News" and You Are Free
Cat Power's Chan Marshall sounds like she comes from a plane somewhat different from the rest of us. On the You Are Free CD, her voice combines raw intimacy with a gruff, chalky confidence and her plainly-spoken lines belie an otherworldly perspective on primal human emotions. "Nude as the News" is a heart wrenching song about unwanted pregnancy.

  "Nude As The News"
  Bands A-Z: Cat Power
The Shins: "New Slang" and "Know Your Onion!"
The Shins give props to late 60s rock with their psychedelic-tinged "New Slang," an acoustic mind-screw strummer with lyrics like "God speed all the bakers at dawn/May they all cut their thumbs." "Know Your Onion!" is a chunk of pop gold. Both songs are from Oh, Inverted World.

  "New Slang"
  "Know Your Onion!"
  Bands A-Z: The Shins
Death Cab For Cutie: "A Movie Script Ending" and We Have The Facts and We're Voting Yes
Cool name...and DCFC pop out their fare share of pensive songs with intelligent, formulaic structures and witty lyrics--exemplified best on the tune "A Movie Script Ending" ("Now we all know that all the words were true in the sappiest songs"). The We Have The Facts and We're Voting Yes CD is the Seattle quartet's most accomplished release to date.

  "A Movie Script Ending"
  Bands A-Z: Death Cab For Cutie
Beck: "Loser" and Sea Change
Poet, junk culture enthusiast, satirist, warped human being and musical whiz kid, Beck always keeps us on our toes. The song "Loser" came from deep left field, constructing the first big indie alt-rock success of the early 90s. The Sea of Change CD was the 2002 release that embodied the other end of his melodic spectrum with breakup ballads and a soft, bluesy feel.

  "Loser"
  Bands A-Z: Beck
Spoon: "The Way We Get By" and Girls Can Tell
Jaunty keyboards, handclaps and bouncy drumbeats make Spoon's song "The Way We Get By" the ideal anthem for disaffected indie kids. Girls Can Tell is the band's best album, full of pointy, impeccable tunes that spare us the theatrics but retain raw, streamlined energy and focus.

  "The Way We Get By"
  Bands A-Z: Spoon
Dashboard Confessional: "Screaming Infidelities" and The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most
Leading the emo-core brigade, Dashboard Confessional tackle such themes as relationship and love, thanks to singer/songwriter Chris Carraba's poignant acoustic tunes. The "Screaming Infidelities" song is a prime example. The CD The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most is pure teen emotion, heavy on the sentiment and sparse on the rage (the very definition of emo-core).

  "Screaming Infidelities"
  Bands A-Z: Dashboard Confessional
PJ Harvey: Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
The ferocity of PJ Harvey's inexhaustible songwriting prowess is imprinted on almost everything she does. For the album that best showcases this influential, fearless artist, look no further than Songs From the City, Songs From The Sea, a masterwork about New York City probing themes of sex, drugs, love and religion.

  Bands A-Z: PJ Harvey






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