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The Delgados

This Glasgow quartet has set the bar for their own music quite high, thanks to the quality of the artists featured on their own Chemikal Underground label, which include fellow Scots Mogwai and Arab Strap, and happily, their intricately textured, unpredictable indie pop is just really, really bloody good. The group has been at it for nearly half a decade now, issuing a steady stream of glorious releases crammed full of dreamy, guitar-propelled, ever-so-slightly Celtic folk-flavored scraps of pastoral paradise. The Delgados layer their songs with lush, pristine instrumentation -- strings, flutes, piano, and more -- giving their music a rich, mature feel, and even use distortion and occasional samples like additional instruments. Singers Stewart Henderson and Emma Pollock trade off deliciously wistful vocals, whose content is intelligent and introspective. Seriously, this is some of the best new independent rock you're going to hear, wonderfully free of cynicism and irony, full of genuine emotions and delightfully innovative musicianship.

The Delgados haven't had much luck getting heard in the States outside of college radio, but they've earned a dedicated following in Britain, especially since their sophomore album, the ambitious, perfectly orchestrated Peloton (1999). On their follow-up, 2000's The Great Eastern, the band added horns, dobro, and cello to the mix, plus surprisingly proggy-sounding time signature changes and heavy riffing. That album features "American Trilogy," a lovely windblown orchestral ramble.

The Delgados have also released Domestiques, their 1997 debut full-length, and numerous shorter players on Chemikal Underground.