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Just Passing Through 

A guide to SXSW-bound bands playing in New Orleans this week.

Watchers

10 p.m. Tuesday, March 15

One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361

New CD: Dunes Phase (Gern Blandsten)

Indie Earnestness Quotient: 4 -- Serious, but too busy fighting the power to indulge it.

New Wave Quotient: 8 -- They know their Gang of Four records.

Jittery punk/funk in the '70s post-punk mode of Pop Group and the Gang of Four, this Chicago-based band even brings the noise that animated the band's forerunners. The bass throbs like good dub while the guitar scrapes on top, and the result is hyperkinetic. It's probably fair to ask for better hooks, but if this moves you to the dance floor, they're less necessary.

The Moaners

10 p.m. Wednesday, March 16

Hi Ho Lounge, 2239 St. Claude Ave., 947-9344; www.hiholounge.com

New CD: Dark Snack (Yep Roc)

Indie Earnestness Quotient: 2 -- Singer Melissa Swingle usually sounds serious, but I think that's just her voice, not her persona.

New Wave Quotient: 1 -- I did see a guitar and drums band in Montreal in the early '80s.

Are bass players a-holes? Do they have have B.O.? Why do so many bands feel they can go without them? In this case, former Trailer Bride singer Melissa Swingle picks up her guitar and joins drummer Laura King, paying enough attention to her sound to keep things from getting sonically monotonous. More garage blues, often catchy.

The Dears, opening for Soundtrack of Our Lives

10 p.m. Friday, March 18

The Parish at House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 529-BLUE; www.hob.com

New CD: No Cities Left (spinART)

Indie Earnestness Quotient: 9 -- They're tortured and want everyone to know it.

New Wave Quotient: 6 -- Borders more on art rock at times, then the Smiths at others.

At its best, the Dears recall Morrissey's gorgeous, indulgent glumness, though without his sense of humor. "Lost in the Plot" works with an appealing amount of space left for the pop hooks to kick in. Often, though, the tracks are full of strings and meaningful guitar lines that make songs exercises in woeful atmosphere.

Pale Blue Dot

8 p.m. Sunday, March 20

The Big Top, 1638 Clio St., 569-2700; www.3rcp.com

New CD: Pale Blue Dot (independent)

Indie Earnestness Quotient: 3 -- Serious enough, but they don't revel in it.

New Wave Quotient: 0 -- They have a mandolin, f'r chrissakes.

Next to everything here, this disc's lack of grand artistic or commercial purpose sounds charmingly modest. Pale Blue Dot often rocks with a sparse directness, leaving room for the words. The guitar solos have an appealing terseness that provides a slightly dark counterpoint to cheerful harmonies.

Supersystem, opening for Radio 4

8:30 p.m. Sunday, March 20

The Parish at House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 529-BLUE; www.hob.com

New CD: Always Never Again (Touch and Go)

Indie Earnestness Quotient: 4 -- Serious, but dealing with their lousy lot in life.

New Wave Quotient: 7 -- An electro-pop Gang of Four.

Not as brainy or edgy as Watchers, but more seductive, with techno bass and drum rhythms percolating under the choppy guitar.

Enon with Swearing at Motorists and Clem Snide

10 p.m. Sunday, March 20

TwiRoPa, 1544 Tchoupitoulas St., 232-9503; www.twiropa.com

New CD: Lost Marbles and Exploded Evidence (Touch and Go)

Indie Earnestness Quotient: 5 -- This is pretty inscrutable at times, but something in it suggests an upright, proper purpose.

New Wave Quotient: 5 -- The best here walks the electronica/electro-pop tightrope.

The new CD collects odds and ends from the band dating back to 1998, so it's no surprise it's, well, odd. Airier and less oppressive than a lot of electronica/electro-pop, there's an appealing mysterious quality in Enon's odd song shapes. I'm not sure anything on this album besides "Kanon" will stay with me, but everything here makes me want to pay more attention to the band.

Clem Snide, opening for Enon and Swearing at Motorists

10 p.m. Sunday, March 20

TwiRoPa, 1544 Tchoupitoulas St., 232-9503; www.twiropa.com

New CD: End of Love (spinART)

Indie Earnestness Quotient: 3 -- Mocking the crappy world, often going so far as to have fun.

New Wave Quotient: 0 -- Much closer to roots rock.

These Brooklyn, N.Y., wisenheimers mimicked country rock so effectively they relocated to Nashville without being run off at the city limits. Singer Eef Barzelay won't be mistaken for Toby Keith anytime soon in voice or politics. That and his compulsive lyrical cleverness keep the band's indie credibility intact.

Guitar Wolf

10 p.m. Sunday, March 20

One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361

New CD: Loverock (Narnack)

Indie Earnestness Quotient: 0 -- It's hard to imagine Guitar Wolf is serious about anything but the roar of guitars through Marshall stacks.

New Wave Quotient: 0 -- This is as old school as rock gets. You have to wonder if this Japanese power trio listens to any records. Do they know what recordings usually sound like? On Loverock, like the albums before it, everything is distorted by excessive volume. Live, that same philosophy pays off with Link Wray-derived guitar rock that really does sound like music for bike gangs, if not their bikes.

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