Staff Trax: The Apples in Stereo, Arcade Fire, Paul Brill, Built to Spill, Twin Sister and The Futureheads.
If forced to put my finger on what it is about The Apples In Stereo's Travellers In Space and Time that makes me put it on repeat and listen to it thirty-eleven times when I've got to get something done, I'd have to cite its totally infectious, groovy pop, which oozes both heyday ELO and synthed-out Jellyfish. And for you readers who don't know me: Those are some beloved references. There are several songs on Travellers about which I could gush just as easily ("Told You Once," "No One In the World" and "Nobody But You" among them) as this one posted here. But as I tend to choose a different favorite each listen, "Hey Elevator" and its "impromptu" video happens to win this round. (On the video tip, "Dance Floor" and its Elijah Wood-featuring video is an addictive gem in its own right.) Local FYI: If you're unfamiliar with the Apples, Dallas' own I Love Math-lete/Deathray Davie John Dufilho is an official one--specifically the mop-topped brunette in the back of the elevator. --Merritt Martin
Paul Brill - "Don't Tell Them"
I first heard New Yorker Paul Brill when his third effort, New Pagan Love Song, somehow found its way into my mailbox back in 2004. I was immediately impressed with Brill's cinematic art-pop. Although undeniably talented, Brill's music has yet to find a wider audience. Still, many may have heard the guy and not known it. You see, Brill's been scoring films of late, and his music appeared most recently in Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Brill's last non-soundtrack effort was 2006's Harpooner, a darker album that featured the beautifully odd ballad "Don't Tell Them." -Darryl Smyers
Built to Spill - "Oh Yeah"
I guess this is a mini "gig-alert" as much as it is anything else: I've been eagerly anticipating next week's Built to Spill show at the Granada Theater for some time, especially since I missed out on the monster double-bill last year when Doug Martsch and the gang came through with Dinosaur Jr. While indie phenoms come and go with each passing day and each passing post in the blogosphere, Built to Spill has weathered the storm for damn near two decades now. By the way: That's since before the Internet, kids. Their time spent swimming with the major labels produced a couple of albums--Perfect From Now On and Keep It Like a Secret--that should be included on any time capsule that has a section for "Top Indie Acts That Were Able To Trick A Major Label Into Releasing Their Excellent, But Non-Commercial Album." There is some debate as to whether the quality dipped for a few years as the new millennium began, but that bunk was laid to rest with the release of last year's beautifully powerful and at times, shimmering, There is No Enemy. -Kelly Dearmore
I was out in Los Angeles last week and met up with a pal who was going to catch a show in Silver Lake and had thoughtfully gotten me a ticket. Headlining was Minus the Bear, preceded by Twin Sister, with opener Beach Fossils. Got there too late for Beach Fossils, but both Twin Sister and Minus the Bear were damn good. I see that Twin Sister will be opening for Memoryhouse on the August 25 at The Loft, and I'd definitely catch them again if I was going to be in town (which I'm not). The band doesn't have much in the way of videos on YouTube, but here is a performance that was decently filmed. Check out their other stuff, while you're at it. It's good dream-pop, and executed very well live. -Doug Davis
I know this foursome released their fourth album this year, but I've recently backtracked to their second album, News & Tributes. Released hot off a lot of praise for their self-titled debut album, News & Tributes seemed like a drastic step away from what made The Futureheads so irresistible. While I would not recommend starting with this album if you're new to the band, it's definitely worth checking out down the road. Sure, the songs are more new wave than post-punk, but the band's harmonies and knack for catchy songs are still obvious. -Eric Grubbs