By EW Staff
Updated September 28, 2007 at 02:00 PM EDT
Shout Out Louds

At the end of every year, a couple of my pretentious music snob relatives and I exchange our 15-track, “Best of” mix CDs. We always attempt to one-up each other, whether it’s by digging deep into our indie piles for that one forgotten gem from January or sneaking in a hit summer single that still pops the cork of a champagne bottle on New Year’s Eve. I can already envision my playlist recipe for 2007: a dash of Kings, a pinch of Spoon, a handful of Andrew Bird and St. Vincent, and I’ll have to stir in some Kanye or he may never be on my album again. Unlike Christmas shopping, however, I’m trying to get an early start on deciding my under-the-radar joints, my “sleepers,” if you will.

So far, I’ve got the usual suspects on my list: The National, Sunset Rubdown, Devendra Banhart, Joe Henry, et. al. But I’ve been kicking around the new Shout Out Louds (pictured) album Our Ill Wills since it dropped about two weeks ago. I’ve come to the conclusion that at least one song will have to squeeze its way in.

With the hundreds of CDs piling up on desks here at EW, it’s difficult for our savvy bunch of critics to get them all in the magazine. Some worthy candidates become victims of album saturation, and I’d say the SOLs were, well, just SOL. You may have already heard the anchor single, “Tonight I Have To Leave It,” but I can’t get the hook-heavy, guitar-bending track “Normandie” out of my head. It reminds me of a summer night riding around drinking beer and bashing mailboxes in my hometown. I can see the video now: young star-crossed lovers making out in the back of a convertible as their friend swerves down the highway, all of them trying to slough off their teenage angst. And, yeah, the band’s basically the second coming of The Cure — as if Adam Olenius took voice lessons from Robert Smith — but you still can’t deny the musicianship. (Check it out via the YouTube clip embedded below.)

So, PopWatchers, what do you think of the kids from Sweden? And what other bands have we slept on in the first nine months of 2007?