British Sea Power "Krankenhaus?"
This is what a band with a major third album ready to explode before us in Arcade Fire grandeur sounds like. These five tracks are fully loaded and carry as much entertainment value as a full-length disc. "Atom" kicks up with toe-tapping licks and ignites 28 minutes of textured Brit rock that reveals new sounds with each attentive listen. There's a bit of ear candy for everyone, from highbrow, melodramatic crashing guitars to simpler pop-structured songs for the casual fan. The mood oscillates from playful to somber but never ventures into dullness. Even the lengthy two-part oddity "The Pelican" is completely engaging as it unfurls like an ominous fairy-tale creature cloaked in church bells and cacophony. Put the headphones on and prepare to get your socks knocked off.
Tokyo Police Club "Smith"
Don't walk out of the room while spinning this one, because you just might miss the Canadian foursome's brief but striking handful of songs that shimmy and shake with bouncing guitars and frantic rhythms sure to please both Fall Out Boy and Arctic Monkeys fans. The piano-laden "A Lesson in Crime" cools things off a bit, allowing vocalist/bassist Dave Monks a chance to show off his introspective side with somber storytelling and delicate vocals. While he's not the smoothest of crooners, his delivery is honest and heartfelt, making for a great closing track. Listening to this EP will leave you chomping at the bit for more, but the band has yet to give a definitive date for its major label debut.
Uh Huh Her "I See Red"
Leisha Hailey is known to most these days for her adorably quirky character Alice on Showtime's "The L Word," but music fans might recall her work with girly rock bands Gush and, most notably, The Murmurs during the late '90s. Hailey's latest effort finds her alongside Camila Grey, tinkering with electro-pop beats and sultry bass lines and unlike most celeb rock bands, this one is quite good. The sound is somewhere between the synth-infused outfit Ladytron and '80s-tinged The Organ, made distinctive by the duo's harmonious vocals. "Say So" soars with spacious arrangements and catchy refrains, while "I See Red" grooves with shimmery Cure-like guitar twirls that will spark an addiction to the disc. Sassy and strong, these songs are like stilettos. The girls are spending the first part of the year honing new material with sporadic tour dates. They expect to release a full-length debut soon.