These notorious power-pop party-crashers have been conspicuously absent in 2008. That's because the five rowdy Rubber City rockers who make up Houseguest have been working on their latest record for Audio Eagle, the Akron label run by Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. "This is our most realized album yet," says singer Ted Mallison. "We're actually getting into some slower, more pastoral kinds of sounds." Houseguest's 2007 Audio Eagle debut, High Strangeness, spotlighted the band's incendiary blend of new-wave and punk aesthetics, zeroing in on a retro-'80s vibe that recalls XTC. Houseguest's live shows typically turn into drunken jam sessions that culminate in bare-chested sing-alongs with audience members. "[We have] a new sing-along," says Mallison. "It's something less hopeful — more of a sad sing-along. We've played it live, and it's already catching on."