Ryan Dombal recommends four cool new tracks, including a live gem from Nada Surf

By Ryan Dombal
June 06, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Live Nada Surf material, and more

This veteran band’s most recent album, The Weight Is a Gift, was largely underrated and overlooked upon its release last year. It’s a shame — those who stuck with Nada Surf after their 1996 hit ”Popular” peaked know they’ve only gotten better since, rattling off reams of quick-burst pop-rock. Now is as good a time as any to catch up with the guys, who just released a five-song live EP recorded in Seattle. This Weight highlight showcases the band’s undying idealism along with some excellent vocal harmonies. Buy the track on iTunes.

Toronto continues to feed the indie-rock beast with this young coed sextet, who recently dropped their freewheeling debut LP, You Can’t Break the Strings in Our Olympic Hearts, in their native Canada. The album is an unlikely mash of Sonic Youth’s convoluted tunefulness and the Flaming Lips’ wall of weird sensory overload. The barreling ”Sugar Laced Soul” is guaranteed to push your stereo’s levels to their limit as singer Peter Carmichael screams its fiery hook with the passion of a man possessed. Download the track for free here , or watch the song’s trippy video for free, courtesy of the Diableros’ site.

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This cover of the slow-dance classic pulls a close-to-impossible trick: It nearly lives up to the definitive Frank Sinatra version. Staying true to the song’s smoky core, Denver’s Devotchka still manage to put their own moody spin on it, adding a palpable Eastern European kick marked by flickering strings. The song is featured on an impressive new EP that also finds the band taking on favorites by the Velvet Underground and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Download the track for free, courtesy of Devotchka’s site.

It’s called ”The Dugout,” but this guitar-squealing romp from burgeoning Vancouver rockers Ladyhawk isn’t some kind of cornball ”put me in, coach!” ode. As far as I can tell, the frayed, distorted monster isn’t really about baseball at all — though it kicks up considerable dirt (metaphorically, of course). Recalling rambunctious ’70s classic rock in its purest form, the quartet unleash a formidable six-string hailstorm with rugged ax solos cracking off in all directions. Download the track for free, courtesy of Ladyhawk’s site.