Who: Before this rising New York indie-pop quartet played a note together, they had a band name, a MySpace page and some shared tastes: "We loved loud, sort of enthusiastic, life-affirming pop like Yo La Tengo and Smashing Pumpkins," says frontman and songwriter Kip Berman, "where there's big guitars and everything's right in the world."
Sounds Like: February's debut disc and the just-released Higher Than the Stars EP are dreamy and shimmery, with plenty of guitar fuzz — a deft update of late-Eighties and Nineties indie-and-alt rock, from 120 Minutes staples like Sonic Youth and the Cure to obscure, strum-heavy acts like Black Tambourine and the Pastels. "Even if things have been done before, it feels novel when you do them yourself," says Berman.
Girl Can't Help It The band's stylish keyboardist, Peggy Wang — who maintains her day job as a blogger for the site Buzzfeed from the road, via laptop — is fast becoming an indie heartthrob: One site put her on a "Bloggers We Want to See in Bikinis" list, much to her embarrassment. "Nobody wants to see me in a bikini, for real," she says.
My So-Called Life Songs such as "Higher Than the Stars" (which Berman says is "about getting high") and the ingeniously titled "Young Adult Friction" ("about doing it in the library") evoke the delirious melodrama of teenage emotions: Berman describes his songwriting process as "strum-ity, strum-ity, strum-ity, feelings, feelings, feelings."
Cute-Band Alert Their twee band name, sugar-shock hooks and cozy group dynamic ("Ew, gross!" Wang says, addressing the prospect of ever dating Berman) may be a little too adorable, but they don't take the childlike-innocence thing too far. "I think we have pure hearts," says Berman, "but dirty minds."
Get It Now: Check out footage of the band live from this year's SXSW fest in Texas.