THE GRATES The Ouch, The Touch EP (Dew Process/Cherry Tree)
The Next Big Things from Brisbane are busy working on their major-label debut with indie-cool producer Brian Deck, but fans of sugar-shock pop will thrill to this short, sweet EP of raggedly bouncy garagey goodness, driven by Patience Hodgson's exuberant chirp.
THE GO! TEAM Thunder, Lightning, Strike (Columbia/Sony BMG) The re-released version of the breakout debut by Brighton's Go! Team includes a twinkly lullaby (Hold Yr Terror Close) along with their sample-based mashups of hyper theme songs, old soul and party-ready beats. Sure to delight cartoon aficionados.
S.S. CARDIACS Fear The Love (Blocks Recording Club)
Local singer/songwriter Jessie Stein pens ridiculously winsome ditties about crushes (and their aftermath) that charm by marrying Stein's reedy girlish soprano to cascading drums and fuzzy, serrated guitars that recall the best of mid-90s indie rock.
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE Plans (Atlantic/Warner)
The ultimate uncontroversial mix-tape fodder, Death Cab's Warner debut adds an extra layer of gloss to their plaintive, soaring melodies in wordy ballads about girls and life and love and stuff. Seth Cohen approved.
FIONA APPLE Extraordinary Machine (Epic/Sony BMG)
Characteristically tempestuous and moody, the "official" version of Apple's long-delayed third album revs up her drama-queen ballads with strings and a healthy dose of hiphop sass.