Like snuggling up in your late grandmother's sweater, there's something both comforting and creepy about Freelance Whales. The outfit formed in 2008 through personal ads on Craigslist (creepy). The members soon cut their teeth playing on New York City streets and subway platforms before releasing a warm folk-pop record about childhood and dreams (comforting). Weathervanes, the band's 2009 release, is conceptually ambitious: The LP's 13 tracks tell a story about the haunting spirit of a little girl (creepy) and the prepubescent boy who falls in love with her (comforting). Popular praise followed its deft mix of plucky banjos and fuzzy-buzzy synths, gaining the Whales attention at SXSW last month. Yannis Philippakis, singer and guitarist of Oxford, England's Foals, has a voice that echoes calmly through the swift and steady snare hits and plinking guitar leads that make up the band's latest effort, Total Life Forever. U.S. audiences know two types of British singers: those who sing with an American accent (Elton John) and those who embrace the mic in all their red-coated glory (Morrissey). Philippakis is the latter. The group's music is often described as math rock, but a love of new-wave bleeds through in such songs as "Image" and the album's title track. Foals' marriage of that heritage to metallic tones and electronic interludes results in a sound all its own.