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Electrelane

This all-girl art project from the United Kingdom nearly blew the tent down at the South by Southwest Music Conference earlier this year with a set devoted mostly to their warp-speed, post-punk soundscapes. That sound has more context in their second, full-length CD, The Power Out, which introduces vocals into the mix, albeit subversively, and highlights the more thoughtful end of their range.

It's a mind-bendingly ambitious and egg-heady work involving lyrics in four languages (it's all about the sound of them), a symphonic choir rendering extracts from a Siegfried Sassoon poem, a sonnet by Spanish poet Juan Basconand, a quote from Frederich Nietzsche. But before you bar-band lovers go "ick!" know that the quartet is alternately playful, smirking and savage in their treatment of all of the above, and the critical response has included name-checks of the Velvet Underground, Stereolab and the Raincoats. An emphatic and innovative rhythm section drives Electrelane's music. By contrast, the electric guitar is almost delicate--call it estrogen rock.

But what really defines the band is the dense, intriguing texture of the keyboards, including a piano and lumbering, antique farsifa organ. The Power Out also benefits from the immediacy of the production, by indie icon Steve Albini (The Pixies, Nirvana, Cheap Trick), but the energy of unpredictability is all the girls'.

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