The Eames Era's self-released second album, Heroes & Sheroes, is the best yet from a band that keeps threatening to pull it together and become a guitar-pop world-beater. Here, the Louisianans build on a sassy, hooky sound, adding the occasional droney piano or cello or offbeat percussion element to work against the songs' inherent brightness. But The Eames Era's biggest weapons remain guitarist Grant Widmer, who roughs up the melodies sublimely, and vocalist Ashlin Phillips, whose singsong delivery makes quirky anthems like "NC-17" and "Dear Gabby" sound like bad-girl scripture… A-

Chicago's Bang! Bang! also does a lot to keep raw guitars, big hooks, and bratty attitude alive on The Dirt That Makes You Drown (Morphius), which turns retro sci-fi fantasies into alluringly dinged-up kitsch, like a neo-garage version of The B-52's. Dirt charts a band in transition, moving from thrashy shout-alongs like "What We Need" to the ethereal, creepy "I Could Die," showing more honest emotion and sonic range. Still, the band's bread and butter remains songs like "She Came From Outer Space," which layers thrift-store guitar over skittering rhythms, building to a giddy climax… B+

Taking wrecked nostalgia to a weird and sometimes sublime new level, The Huxtables' A Touch Of Wonder (Famous Class) chops up pieces of old TV shows—including Chico And The Man, Jem, and, yes, The Cosby Show—and drops them into short, noisy instrumentals that lean heavy on discordant squall. The gag wears thin when the songs stretch past two minutes, but in brief, structureless bursts, The Huxtables sound unlike anybody else, in a good way… B

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Animal Collective stalwart Panda Bear follows up his touchingly elegiac Young Prayer with the more expansive, restless Person Pitch (Paw Tracks), a set of extended psychedelic suites that journey from tribal ritual to experimental electronica to sunshine pop, taking as long as they need to arrive at someplace wholly new. Sometimes ominous, sometimes celebratory, always compelling, Person Pitch is as clattering and tactile as a beaded curtain… A-

Seattle psych-pop band Welcome fills its debut album Sirs (Fat Cat) with false starts, false notes, herky-jerky beats, and echoing vocals. The album-opening "All Set" sets the tone, sounding like a skipping 45 from '68, as Welcome deconstructs post-British Invasion with the kind of savage imagination that bands like Lilys and Spoon have previously applied. The band really only has that one trick, but it's a wower… B+

Austin indie-rock revivalist act Peel is a throwback to the heady post-Pavement days of the mid-'90s, when hundreds of small-timers married affectless vocals to springy guitars and scattered sonic slop, creating a joyous din. The band's debut album, Peel (Peek-A-Boo), would've been a standout then, with catchy oddities like "Oxford" and "1949" sounding simultaneously vintage and immediate. The style is less revelatory now, but there's still something likeably musty about it. B

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