The cloak of anonymity surrounding New York art-rock outfit Lansing-Dreiden has had an impact on its music, making the band's version of shoegazer guitar-pop come out partially obscured. Lansing-Dreiden's second album, The Dividing Island, cycles through 10 tracks of lightly trippy mind-music, borrowing liberally from British soundscapers like Cocteau Twins, Simple Minds, Talk Talk, and Stone Roses, while making dreamy '80s pop hits into something strange but still catchy. The album's more outré moments—like the "Blue Jay Way" Beatles nods on the title track and the warped sound of "Cement To Stone"—are outweighed by the swank new romantic balladry of "One For All" and "Two Extremes," which wouldn't sound too odd coming out of Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet. The Dividing Island goes through stretches of atmospheric ghoulishness and genre-busting attempts to suck out the instrumentation, but for the most part, the record is as inviting as it is mysterious.
In a similar retro vein—albeit more open—the Oklahoma-based Evangelicals slam together late-'60s freakbeat and mid-'80s Britpop, forging a chaotic style that frequently breaks into fragments of fragile beauty. The quintessential song on the band's debut album So Gone is "Hello Jenn, I'm A Mess," which swings wildly between sloppy jangle and twee twinkle, before ending with a woozy, sad coda graced by a thick, soft bassline. So Gone's songs sometimes wander too far afield, or explode so thoroughly that they can't be put back together, but when the record reaches moments of clarity like the Chet Atkins-style guitar solo at the end of "My Heartache," the smooth patch is worth the rocky road.