In the pathologically trend-obsessed milieu of indie rock, the desire to separate your band from whatever sound or scene invigorated you in the first place is the community's brand of hubris. It hangs over everything the French Kicks do.
It's not exactly their fault. They had the misfortune to have Strokes-like sway when A&R weasels were sniffing the Big Apple for more sneering, leather-clad, prep-school grads. And the Kicks had the audacity to write catchy, commercially approachable songs with a bit of muscle to them. On their latest, Two Thousand, they're awash in more layers of lovely guitar tones and even tighter song structures, within a romantically relaxed (sometimes drab) vibe. Delightfully spruced-up bedhead-and-thrift-T-shirt rock ("So Far We Are"), sprightly '70s daisy-tripping ("Also Ran"), and some lazy keys with mopey beats ("No Mean Time") all point their way out of the hipster-wary woods.
On its recent Capitol debut, Movie Monster, Texas-based Sound Team is a punchy indie-pop thing that eschews both emo annoyance and laptop coyness, preferring neck-straining vocals and dippy drama worthy of Elton John.