By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Apr 26, 2006 at 5:15 AM

Here are nine really good songs off of nine really good new albums. What's on your mix tape?

Band Of Horses -- "Weed Party"
(Everything All The Time)

It starts out dangerously twangy and even includes an annoying (gasp!) "Yehaw!" -- but if you can hang on past the first 10 seconds, Band Of Horses will convince you, via "Weed Party," that it has not jumped on the bright-eyed rock wagon of The Shins, but that it is, in fact, the better band. The delicate earnestness of songs like "The Funeral" or "The Great Salt Lake" will most likely have the same effect. The band hasn't blazed any new trails with its debut, but it certainly has made it a much more enjoyable hike.

Mogwai -- "Travel Is Dangerous"
(Mr. Beast)

According to the four Scottish lads in Mogwai, many of the songs on this year's "Mr. Beast" -- including the title itself -- were inside jokes, though you wouldn't know it to listen to it. Joke or no joke, nothing about "Travel is Dangerous," or any of the songs for that matter, makes you want to chuckle. Taking on a Sunny Day Real Estate-like soft-loud-soft tenure, the sultry vocals with layered harmonies and screeching guitars of this track tend to brighten the album as well as soften the heavy blows of dense instrumental build up. But don't let the restraint and sensibility of this track fool you -- Mogwai is still very much a beloved black hole of dark intensity.

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone -- "Young Shields"

While there's nothing overly profound here -- Casiotone's entire catalog is more or less a monotone monologue of straightforward confessions and universally trying experiences -- one-man band Owen Ashworth can make his lonely Saturday at home night sound more interesting than your entire week. "Young Shields" paints a very real picture of being young, broke and unsure -- basically life in all its anti-climactic glory -- and his storytelling turns out to be as engaging as his prolific use of foggy distortion and snappy synths.

The Flaming Lips -- "Free Radicals"
(At War With the Mystics)

This song is the "At War With the Mystics" equivalent of the White Stripes' illustrious and somewhat out of place single "Blue Orchid" from "Get Behind Me Satan." The near-falsetto vocals are perched on a pedestal while the guitars churn sexual brut. It's the second track, and just when you think it's going to be the impetus for a really great new direction for The Flaming Lips, you listen on and realize that it sounds nothing like the other 11 tracks. Actually, what is does sound like is the band's last two releases, or a much better version of Prince's disappointing comeback.

Mates of State -- "Punchlines"
(Bring It Back)

The king and queen of sickeningly cute indie pop show up once again bearing heart in hand on their latest release, and though lyrically, they're still harmonizing like nobody's business and dancing around the millions of different ways to tell the world they love each other, at least they're exploring new sound and texture territory. "Punchlines" commences with Gardner's signature organ chops but soon develops into a dueling of bass drum thumps and vocal velocity that escalates into a climax of previously unseen complexity.

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan -- "Honey Child What Can I Do?"
(Ballad of the Broken Seas)

Like a match made in heartbreak heaven, these two crank out the sweet ballads with a melancholy sentiment not seen since The Jesus And Mary Chain. Lanegan, formerly of the Screaming Trees, growls like a sailor while Campbell, of Belle & Sebastian fame, coos wistfully on this breezy duet that finds a happy and acceptable medium between naïve longing and the "I'm giving up on love" approach.

Black Heart Procession -- "To Bring You Back"
(The Spell)

Not since Edgar Allen Poe has anyone created a world so dark and haunting, yet so channeling and passionate. In fact, if Poe were to have made short films, Black Heart Procession might be the only suitable choice for the score. While each of the 11 vignettes on "The Spell" drip with intoxicating allure, it's the album closer, "To Bring You Back," that perfectly conjures the band's old-timey tones and moody elegance.

Built To Spill -- "Saturday"
(You in Reverse)

If you had ever seen Built To Spill in concert, this album -- the band's first in five years -- came as no surprise. (Covering "Free Bird," apparently, was not a joke.) Losing its grip on the frazzled, quirky hooks that placed it arm and arm with Modest Mouse in the late '90s, Doug Martsch and crew have slipped into a new niche, nestling comfortably in the tangled arms of jammy guitar rock. "Saturday," however, hangs on to the last remaining thread of tight song structure and a sampling of Marsh's signature lyrical quips: "I'm glad you're not like us/ And by us, I mean everyone in the world who isn't you."

Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs -- "Gold Lion"
(Show Your Bones)

Everything good about this album and band can be wrapped up in this song. It's sexy, beckoning, raw and dramatic, and sets a punchy standard for the band's sophomore album. Though the Yeahs took some flack for the relative tameness of "Bones," leading lady Karen O still explodes with confident candor and is, thankfully, still eons away from polite.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”