Rob Smoughton, recording under the moniker Grovesnor, is a member of Hot Chip - though despite the connection it's unfortunately unlikely you've heard much about the guy. As Grovesnor, he makes a brand of electro-funk that seems in some ways related to the music of his other band, but Smoughton leaves behind the endearing geeky sentiment for a sleek, sexy pop approach that's just as difficult to resist on his new album, Soft Return. On cuts like the groovy "Taxi from the Airport" and the appropriately sultry "Nitemoves" Smoughton proves he's got a way with a hook and enough vocal firepower to make them effective. Thin digital drum beats and skittering electronics fill in the spaces between the keyboard riffs, with Smoughton effectively transforming himself into his playboy alter-ego over the course of the record's 11 tracks. (MySpace)
Download: "Taxi From the Airport"
JT Lindsay, frontman for rock 'n' rollers JT and the Clouds, had something of a late start to his music career. But he's making up for it now, especially with his excellent new LP Caledonia, which was recently released and has been in steady rotation for me over the past few weeks. Lindsay and company make breezy, melodic rock 'n' roll with classic roots and a soulful edge - showcased best on highlights "Funeral" and "How it Runs," two hook-filled rock tunes that make me wonder why I hadn't been exposed to these guys before. The band works their way through everything from earnest ballads ("I Have Heard Words") to odd pop numbers ("Grow Your Flowers") with an equal measure of style, making Caledonia a consistently infectious and fun album from a band you should get to know as soon as possible (MySpace)
Download: "Fever Dream" (zipped MP3)
Lawrence Arabia is the recording and performing name of one James Milne, who's biggest claim to fame was perhaps his being a touring member of Okkervil River at one time. Thankfully, Milne decided to step into the spotlight and has now released his second solo effort, Chant Darling, a wonderfully eclectic pop album that never stays still and always manages to impress. The album's highlights show several different yet consistently entertaining sides of Milne's musical personality; "Apple Pie Bed" has a slick, danceable edge reminiscent of Of Montreal, "Eye A" is a jangly bit of pop-rock, and the appropriately atmospheric "Dream Teacher" makes for a peaceful goodbye to end the record. This New Zealand crooner not only provides some undeniably catchy tunes with plenty of variety, but shows genuine promise for anything he decides to do next. Definitely an artist to keep an eye on going forward. (MySpace)
Download: "Apple Pie Bed"
Download: "Apple Pie Bed"