DAPPLED CITIES
Granddance
(Dangerbird)
Dangerbird Records is home to a slew of bands that create music outside the confines of average. Average ain’t even on their radar. The result is albums that catch you off guard, that surprise you by their off-kilter originality. This mentality has spawned bands like Silversun Pickups, Sea Wolf, The One AM Radio (see further), and now Dappled Cities. These Aussies have created an album that jumps about, but is consistent in its spark. It’s less pop than you’d expect it to be judging by their cutie-pie faces, but that’s not a bad thing, in this case it’s a thing that leaves you wanting more of their accent-tinged melodies.

DAS LLAMAS
World War
(Aviation)
There’s not been a Seattle band this exciting in quite awhile. In their previous life as Stabmasterarson, they were of note, plugging away in a scene full of like-minded bands, drawing well and doin’ just fine. After the switch to Das Llamas, things got better, WAY better, and with this latest release, they set out to prove their talent layer by layer, unearthing a band with some heftily enviable musical chops. Think the most classic of the ’80s pop-punkers, bring it into the mix of the post-punk revivalists, add to it originality, talent, and frontman Kerry Zettel’s arresting vocals, and you’ll be somewhere in the ballpark of just how f-ing good this is. Das Llamas should be headed to Spokane in June, so keep an eye out to see when and where. You won’t want to miss being a part of this.

THE ELECTRIC SOFT PARADE
No Need to be Downhearted
(Better Looking)
At the first few seconds this sounds like Robbers on High Street. Eee eee, Ooh ooh. But, it shifts quickly and calls its own bluff. Hardly do I call somebody out on weak vocals, but amidst the mostly catchy musical backdrop behind them, these vocals are oddly out of place. So much so that when the beat jumps and goes a little dancier, I can’t quite take it anymore. Kudos, though, for some of the cutest disc art I’ve seen in a long time (but you’d have to buy it to see it, and that wouldn’t be worth it).

ISENHEART
Isenheart EP
(self-released) LOCAL
BOBfest has long served as the breeding ground for Spokane’s budding talent. With bands like Isenheart on the bill, this year will be no exception. Isenheart captures the innocence that we all crave from younger bands; they are pure, full of fresh perspective, TALENTED, and easily loved. Keep an eye out, and check out BOBfest for this and more from our city’s youngest crop of musicians.

KAISER CHIEFS
Yours Truly, Angry Mob
(Universal)
It’d be easy to jump into this sophomore release thinking it’d be nowhere near as good as the band’s Employment of 2005. That release, after all, gave us our ’05 anthems, “I Predict a Riot,” “Na Na Na Na Naa,” “Everyday I Love You Less and Less.” Yours Truly is a tough nut to crack: it wants and wants, but doesn’t necessarily get. It’s more refined, therefore less Kaiser Chiefs-y. It’s developed, not quite all the way there. We’ll see where the KCs head next, because regardless of the strength of this release, we do know they have some damn fine tunes in ’em.

KLAXONS
Myths of the Near Future
(Geffen)
We can agree that hype is mostly boring. We can probably agree that Klaxons are supa-hyped (right?). But what I’m quite divided over is whether a) hype has destroyed Klaxons’ real potential, and b) if the hype was ever justified in the first place. My instinct is that Klaxons are a group grabbed up like Arctic Monkeys (will see if that’ll hold completely true in the near future), moderately likeable from the git-go, but talked up to such an extent that you’re considered scum if you’re not a fan. (For the record, I am not an Arctic Monkeys fan and though they’ve sold and toured remarkably well, their success is completely unremarkable for its deservedness, or lack thereof.) We’ll see what happens to Klaxons, but really I’ll probably just continue to ignore them.

WILLIE NELSON
Songbird
(Lost Highway)
Let’s talk for a minute about how cool Willie Nelson is. We could talk about his recent collaboration with Merle Haggard and Ray Price, Last of the Breed, but of more note to our (much) younger ears, is this album of Willie solo. How hip of Willie to set up shop with Ryan Adams producing. How hip of Willie to have Adams’ band, The Cardinals, serve as back up. It is, of course, though, Nelson’s iconic voice that takes you through the album. You won’t even find yourself missing Willie’s classics, because there are highlights all about, including title track “Songbird,” featuring our new favorite lyric: “I wish you all the love in the world, but most of all, I wish it for myself.” Hit up Willie’s Fourth of July picnic (out of the state of Texas for the first time in 33 years!) at the Gorge this summer!

THE ONE AM RADIO
This Too Will Pass
(Dangerbird)
It’s been awhile since some soft, lilting music gave me chills. In fact, this may be the first time. But there is something so perfect, so gorgeous about this music, that it’s chill inducing. It’s sitting-under-a-blanket-with-someone-special chill inducing. It’s perfect. The One AM Radio, also known as LA-based musician Hrishikesh Hirway, is delicate and affecting, while subtle. It’s gloomy, while uplifting. It’s perfect.

Priestbird
In Your Time
(Kemado Records)
There’s nothing inherently heavy about the clergy, or our feathered friends, or for that matter cellos, but Priestbird’s got all these things. In some sort of off-beat alternative universe kind of way Priestbird manages to suck you in with their pleasantly orchestrated rock. In the same way that the Earthlings, Masters of Reality, and Dinosaur Jr. make listeners really think about what they’re listening to, Priestbird’s serious musician-ship should not be taken lightly. Priestbird is shoe-gazing while wearing combat boots with steel shank in ’em.

Rush
Snakes and Ladders
(Atlantic/WEA)
Well you’ll be hard-pressed to find any self-aware Rush fan cop to purchasing a single Rush album since 1984, AKA Grace Under Pressure. There are a few out there-mostly relegated to RushCon, the biggest convention in North America of fans of the rock band Rush (…I’m not making this up). But they’re out there. As far as I can tell the days of By-Tor and the Snowdog are past us, as Rush are now opting for more concrete notions like war and societal ills. That said, musically, Rush still have some serious chops. The first single, “Far Cry”, isn’t “Working Man”, but it’s not half bad. What the hell do I know; I stopped listening to Rush after Moving Pictures.

SCISSORS FOR LEFTY
Underhanded Romance
(Eenie Meanie)
This is the release I have been waiting months for. San Francisco’s Scissors for Lefty is one remarkable band. Whimsical and soulful, quirky and charming, these boys have it all, and their sophomore full-length is not only the best material they’ve put out to date, it’s also some of the best material you are going to hear all summer. This is the soundtrack to your perfect summer. Listen to it at home, listen to it in the car, listen to it jogging. Mostly, just listen to it. It’ll win you over instantaneously, and you’ll still be a-spin-spin-spinnin’ this disc as we creep into fall.

SEE ME RIVER
See Me River
(Aviation)
Das Llamas isn’t the only fabulous project brought to you by Kerry Zettel. For a mellower set, check out See Me River. Zettel’s vocals soar to new heights on this project, on greater display, and equally strong.