North Carolina indie band Pleasant consists of New Zealand pop disciples, who court the crystalline sound of guitar scraping against guitar. Pleasant's second album, Awkward As A Beehive (Pox World Empire), shares some of the limitations of the classic NZ sound, namely that an emphasis on texture and coo means that the band produces more soundscapes than songs. But jangly, snaky, echoing tracks like "Welcome Come In" and "Fight Song" do ping peacefully in the head…

Washington state newcomers Weather lie more on the emo side of indie, and on the resounding side of emo. The band's debut album, Calling Up My Bad Side (Cake), is full of big-sounding songs with rippling piano accents and springy bass-guitar hooks. The sound rises above the generic on songs like "Torn Man Down" and "Lie To Me," which have the kind of dramatic life-or-death urgency that slickly produced rock can sometimes do better than DIY…

Reliable alt-rock label Domino continues to import intriguing European rock acts. The Beautiful New Born Children's Hey People! rips out nine songs in 23 minutes, all bleeding distortion and wielding a steady brat-punk hammer. There's more promise than pop there at the moment, but the Fall-like "I Do To" and the giddily pro-sex-and-drugs "A Good Dose" belong on any respectable rock blog. Meanwhile, the British Sea Power side project Brakes fill its debut album Give Blood with tossed-off two-chord roots-punk songs, some as catchy and inviting as "Ring A Ding Ding" and "NY Pie," and some as abbreviated and funny as "Pick Up The Phone" (30 seconds long), "Comma Comma Comma Full Stop" (six seconds) and "Cheney" (nine seconds, with the tag line, "Stop being such a dick!")…

Swedish trio Peter Bjorn & John dice up stately '50s pop, Blonde On Blonde-era Bob Dylan, British freakbeat, new wave, power pop, American indie rock, and random snippets of electronics on their second album, Falling Out (Hidden Agenda), which should be classified alongside The Shins and The New Pornographers as part of the worldwide movement to make guys with guitars relevant again. Choice cuts: the ironically sunny, sky-wide "Big Black Coffin," and "Far Away, By My Side," which alternates "doo doo doo"s and the robotic voice of a Speak & Spell…

UK indie-pop veterans Comet Gain continue to toil in glorious obscurity on their sixth album, City Fallen Leaves (Kill Rock Stars), which cuts singer/songwriter David Feck's Clash-like clatter with sweetly personal ballads like "Days I Forgot To Write Down," which doubles a confession of what it feels like to make music that nobody hears…

Finally and closer to home, Death Vessel's Stay Close (North East Indie) presents singer/songwriter Joel Thibodeau's high, well-toned voice over bluegrass picking more common to Appalachia than the band's native New England. Sometimes the distance between the musicians and their source makes them come off like pale imitators, but it's hard to deny the simultaneous beauty, wit, and emotional pull of a song like "Tidy Nervous Breakdown," which drifts through the cold and dark like a mountain gust.

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