Although it was once just a gaggle of Belle & Sebastian acolytes, Chicago's Scotland Yard Gospel Choir made its own kind of pop magic on 2007's self-titled album. Beginning with the rambling, kinetic "Aspidistra" and closing with the heartbreaking "Everything You Paid For," the record offers a guided tour of singer and guitarist Elia Einhorn's beautiful neuroses. As a bandleader, he walks a fine line between writing confessional lyrics and playing catchy, entrancing rock & roll, but never sacrifices a big hook or a rushing rhythm for a moment of navel-gazing. If SYGC prefers to fill in the blanks with pop grandeur, North Carolina's Bowerbirds prizes the open spaces of American folk music. The act uses guitar, accordion and violin to weave together both gentle and forceful melodic strands.