If Morr has a franchise artist, it's Munich's Lali Puna. Led by Valerie Trebeljahr and Markus Acher (of Notwist semi-fame), Lali Puna possess an unerring knack for heart-snagging melodies, tones that ooze lavender lugubriousness, and lowercase beats just intricate enough to set them apart from the indietronica pack. On their latest album, Faking the Books, Trebeljahr's voice carries a sang-froid sensuality that makes pencil-necked Pitchfork-reading boys hot and bothered enough to want to overthrow small nations. And there's just enough Stereolab-ish rock oomph in Lali Puna's attack to make them naturals for college radio. Essentially, Lali Puna are the Notwist with more estrogen in the mix. Their albums are supremely pleasant blends of suave continental rock and Morr's patented dreamy electronica. It's hard to imagine anyone mustering extreme reactions either pro or con toward Lali Puna, and that's why the group's medium-sized stardom seems assured.
Billmates Duo 505 (B. Fleischmann and Herbert Weixelbaum) came together through their "hatelove" of the Roland Groovebox at a gig in Vienna. On their debut disc, Late, the pair traffic in perky electro pop that recalls OMD on Jolt Cola or DAT Politics with more streamlined melodies. The tunes are equally schmaltzy and uplifting, whimsical and touching, trapped in a state of perpetual adolescent longing.
Anticon Records co-founder and former Deep Puddle Dynamics member Alias is the most interesting act in this lineup. The Oakland-based producer/MC deserves immortality for "Jovial Costume" off his dazzling 2002 debut album, The Other Side of the Looking Glass. Marked by a heart-rending flute motif and furious rhythms reminiscent of Miles Davis' On the Corner, the track haunts with lines like, "I'm trying to prove a point to the walking dead and use my songs as smelling salts to get inside your head/Set off some introspect/Welcome to my world of jesters, the aforementioned and lost intellect/Let's play who's got it worst." Both Looking Glass and its mostly instrumental follow-up Muted take hiphop to its melancholic zenith (goths would especially dig the former and verses like "Sad how bad times make good music/Hope I can maintain this great depression") and rehabilitate the maligned art of heart-on-sleeve emotion-baring from whining indie rockers. DAVE SEGAL
Lali Puna, Alias, and Duo 505 play Fri Nov 26 at Neumo's, 925 E Pike St, 709-9442, 8 pm-2 am, 21+, $10 adv./$12 DOS.