Caught in the Net: Lots at stake with new album

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The Independent Culture

When the Strokes emerged they set a template for indie bands arriving on a wave of hype only to find that the critics and the fans had moved on to the Next Big Thing by the time their second album arrived. Like the Strokes, Vampire Weekend (left) are a bunch of well-dressed, well-heeled New Yorkers. Their self-titled debut record, released in 2008, received both praise and reproach for their cherry-picking of Afro-pop influences and for their preppy style (personally, I liked how they looked and enjoyed about half of the album). Next week sees the release of Vampire Weekend's second LP, 'Contra' (reviewed opposite). For fans who can't wait until then, there has been much pre-release hype, some leaked songs and a great video for single "Cousins" (tinyurl.com/yfpojny). The record is currently streaming in full at tinyurl.com/2zgv8h. It follows in a similar vein to the first LP, a collection of charming pop songs but with an expanded palette of sounds and influences. While the band show signs of having staying power it will be interesting to see what reception 'Contra' gets from fans.

Harder they come

A band we'll hopefully see more of this year is Fergus & Geronimo, from Texas. Andrew Savage and Jason Kelly are behind the band (though they beef up with more players for gigs), and together they make delightful confections of Sixties pop, Motown and psych rock. Thus far, they've only released a few singles including 'The Blind Muslim Girl' available at tinyurl.com/yk6gwa5. Hear three of their songs (two fast and loud, one slow and lovely and still loud) on Myspace (tinyurl.com/ yfvrodb), while the short, sharp and addictive "Harder Than It's Ever Been" can be downloaded at tinyurl.com/ychcqtp. Here's to a productive 2010, fellas.

Sixties sound that's a kind of magic

Another band we're hoping for big things from soon is Magic Kids (below). These youngsters from Memphis first got attention when they played some shows with Girls (and there are more gigs lined up with them this year). As with Fegus & Geronimo they are rather enamoured with Sixties pop, though more in the Phil Spector/Wall of Sound vein. Thus far, only two songs seem to be circulating, including the infectious single "Hey Boy". Hear them at myspace.com/themagickids.



Blood on the track from wizards of Oz



The Middle East are from Townsville, Australia. They play a beautifully delicate combination of folk, country and alt-rock. I'm a bit behind on this one: they released their five-song EP 'Recordings of the Middle East' in Australia over a year ago, and rereleased it to a wider audience late last year. Regardless of timing, it's worth attention: the EP can be bought from their website, themid dleeastmusic.com, while the fantastic "Blood" comes as free download.

Friends know best

US label Friends of Friends happened across 19 year-old Henry Laufer while he was interning at the online radio station Dublab.com. LA native Laufer goes by the name Shlohmo (myspace.com/ shlomoshun) when creating clipped beats low-fi soundscapes on synths and laptops. Impressed by his debut EP 'Shlomoshun' – put out free online last year – the label next week digitally releases 'Shlomoshun Deluxe' which includes the original EP, some newer tracks and remixes. Get the record, which calls to mind the highly-rated producers Flying Lotus and Nosaj Thing, as well as bearing the influence of J Dilla from 12 January at fofmusic.net. Another release, the 'Shlo-Fi' EP, is available free at tinyurl.com/yh2smos.

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