The Magnetic Fields
The Skinny: Indie-pop misanthrope Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, deemed by Bob Gould as the "most depressing man in rock," studies his The Jesus and Mary Chain fixation with heaps of prickly distortion, er, as advertised in the album title.
Why You Should Buy It: Merritt exists in his own vacuum-sealed idiom. He told The New York Times, "I cannot name a record by anyone in 2007." As for his rapturous scrutiny of influential Scottish noise-pop band The Jesus and Mary Chain's 1985 debut album Psychocandy? "It's the last album that sounded shockingly new, to me anyway."
Song You'll Love or Hate: The gnashingly frontal lobe assault of album opener, "Three-Way," which basically consists of Mr. Merritt shouting the title over rippling riffs.
Made of Bricks
The Skinny: Discovered on MySpace by Lily Allen, 20-something Englander Kate Nash makes an album about the struggles of upper-class strife. She sounds like a brainier version of The Spice Girls, for better or worse.
Why You Should Buy It: Nash's cockney Brit accent, flowing pen verses and sly pop cultural shout-outs - hell, she manages to namecheck CSI at one point - are 10 times better than the CHR-pop Hannah Montana dreck infiltrating American top-40. Plus, let's just say that it might be awhile before Amy Winehouse releases another Back to Black.
Song You'll Love or Hate: Produced by Bloc Party producer Paul Epworth, Nash finds lyrical inspiration in the mundane. Her song about mouthwash, titled "Mouthwash," of course, is an exercise in lyrical frugality. The hummable melody will stay in your head for days.