Release date: February 14

Stylistic cousins: Belle & Sebastian, Galaxie 500, Wheat, Chamber Strings

What the


Indie rock roundup

An uncomplicated guide to little-known new releases.


Release date: February 14

Stylistic cousins: Belle & Sebastian, Galaxie 500, Wheat, Chamber Strings

What the hell kind of name is the Butterflies of Love? Well, most people would probably say it's an ill-advised one, but then they wouldn't have heard this astoundingly beautiful record by a band that's unmistakably British— except that they're from Connecticut. Never mind the connections between the flittering insect and the type of bright guitar-pop this band pumps out; it's sunny-sounding whether lead bros Jeff and Dan Greene are singing shiny happy love songs or devilish dirges like "Rob a Bank" ("I'm not an anarchist/Doesn't mean I won't blow up buildings with you"). The disc's fab all the way through, but the opener, "Mt Everest," might be the best edgy-yet-tender groove since "Foggy Notion."

Grade: A (

ILLYAH KURYAHKIN, thirtycabminute (Arena Rock)

Release date: sometime late 1999

Stylistic touchstone: Leonard Cohen covering Aphex Twin, or vice versa

On his second album, New York's Dean Wilson enfolds myriad experimental music interests into delicate, luminous songs. So for the price of one disc, Illyah Kuryahkin supplies enough layers and styles for several—from hypnotic percussion to acoustic jazz bass to rogue electronic soundscapes. For no extra charge, Wilson throws in literary devices (there's joy in repetition, as Prince so coyly noted) and trenchant cultural references (the most effective and evocative track, with the sounds of echoing harps and girding beats, refers to guitar demi-god "thomverlaine"). The big bonus? Wilson ties all this together into songs that are actually easy to like, even with a voice that's atypically attractive.

Grade: A- (

DESTROYER, Thief (Catsup Plate)

Release Date: January 24

Stylistic boundaries: somewhere between the Mountain Goats and George Harrison

Canadian cult songsmith Daniel Bejar, a.k.a. Destroyer, isn't the heavy metal practitioner you half-expect. Instead, he and a couple of BC friends like Jason Zumpano pry the top off the instant-music formula and wreak havoc. Thief carelessly veers between ballady piano solos, Kinks-like renaissance pop, hook-and-ladder guitar-rock, and, on the pretty (and weird) acoustic number "Canadian Lover/Falcon's Escape," heady intellectual indie. Destroyer overcomes Bejar's main obstacle, his adenoidal vocals, with provocative and affecting songs.

Grade: B (Box 1277, New York, NY 10276)

THE LETTER E, The Letter E EP (Tiger Style)

Release date: February 15

Style alert: Instrumental emo

What makes all those warehouse-dwelling Brooklynites think the rest of the world wants to hear their musical creations? And wouldn't they be better off getting more lucrative work to pay their rising rents? Maybe, but thankfully nobody told the Letter E, who've created a sparkling batch of introductory songs. If instruments could speak, they'd form a language kinda like this—shimmery guitars, softly struck drums, meandering bass lines.

Grade: B+ (

BACK OFF CUPIDS, Back Off Cupids (Drunken Fish)

Release date: February 14

You may remember John Reis from: Drive Like Jehu and Rocket From the Crypt

Being in two of the coolest bands on the scene wasn't good enough for John Reis, so he'd trot off and record solo vignettes. After five years of such philandering, he's released 10 of the more developed cuts as Back Off Cupids (this guy's got a knack for sharp rock-band names, 鶩demment). Mostly instrumental and unhinged, Reis' songs maintain a groggy flow, some concentrating on a piercing guitar sound or a subdued riff, others galloping into a full-blown rawk number—albeit with spacey synth accouterments. A couple of vocal tracks steal the show; too bad there aren't more.

Grade: C+ (

VEHICLE FLIPS, For You I Pine (Magic Marker)

Release date: March 21

Their own label compares 'em to: Wimp Factor 14, Pedro the Lion, Jonathan Richman

On most Vehicle Flips songs, lead Flipper Frank Boscoe sounds like he's singin' from a college library desk, enunciating his daydreams as water drips from the ceiling onto the aging card catalog. He muses about an upstairs neighbor who tries to play blues guitar (and who fails, naturally), waiting in line at the post office, and other quotidian trials. The minimalist music—guitar, drums, bass—is an aesthetic choice; bassist Tim Parker used to play in the aggro and astute Karl Hendricks Trio. Boscoe's on the same intellectual plane as the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle, but he channels his bizarre historical and geographical fascinations into more sprightly settings: "Song for Pahaquarry, NJ (1824-1997)" sounds kinda like Luna. Neat.

Grade: A- (

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