It's not exactly their fault. They had the misfortune to have Strokes-like sway when A&R weasels were sniffing the Big Apple for more sneering, leather-clad, prep-school grads. And the Kicks had the audacity to write catchy, commercially approachable songs with a bit of muscle to them. On their latest, Two Thousand, they're awash in more layers of lovely guitar tones and even tighter song structures, within a romantically relaxed (sometimes drab) vibe. Delightfully spruced-up bedhead-and-thrift-T-shirt rock ("So Far We Are"), sprightly '70s daisy-tripping ("Also Ran"), and some lazy keys with mopey beats ("No Mean Time") all point their way out of the hipster-wary woods.
On its recent Capitol debut, Movie Monster, Texas-based Sound Team is a punchy indie-pop thing that eschews both emo annoyance and laptop coyness, preferring neck-straining vocals and dippy drama worthy of Elton John.