Found yourself lately browsing aimlessly for CDs to buy at your favorite record store? (Not that there’s too many of them, Tower Records is closing its doors already). If you find yourself in this situation, you can always head for the New Releases rack.

But be warned, you’ll be wading through albums upon albums of either emo-ish acts or uniformly-dressed hip-hop groups. Or you may chance upon countless bossanova compilations that could very well be tempting the Havaianas-loving crowd to shout in unison: “Viva Brasil!” (Trust me on this, I did a “see-through” minutes before writing this piece.)
If you’re the type to stray away from the proverbial maddening crowd, you might have been taking your cues from watching The OC on what’s cool to listen to these days. But much of the music in there is tailored for the show’s target audience (read: pubescent mopeheads. Think Death Cab for Cutie.).

If you’re still raving about Franz Ferdinand or The Killers, here are seven bands worth checking out. Afterwards, you can proceed asking any ID-toting person over at the record store, though I’m betting on eliciting an almost blank stare. If all else fails, start Googling.

The Arcade Fire. Canada’s lords of indie-experimental rock went bust after the release of their critically-acclaimed debut album Funeral sometime in 2004 to 2005. The band is known for incorporating a large number of instruments including the viola, French horn, accordion and harp, among others. After garnering raves from established music icons like David Bowie and touring with U2, The Arcade Fire are now the unofficial ambassadors of Canadian indie music. The group is set to release its follow-up early this year, titled Neon Bible.
Genre: Indie
Country: Canada
Must-have album: Funeral

Bloc Party. Yes, they sound familiar. That’s because a lot of the songs from their debut album Silent Alarm made their way everywhere from MTV commercial to video-game soundtracks. Bloc Party was lumped among bands that figured heavily in the post-punk revival of 2006 that drew comparisons with 80s acts like The Cure, Joy Division and Gang of Four. Their highly-anticipated sophomore outing, titled A Weekend in the City, comes out this February.
Genre: Indie, Post-punk
Country: UK
Must-have album: Silent Alarm

Arctic Monkeys. Who The F*^* Are The Arctic Monkeys? That bold statement is actually the title of their EP, released last year. But, get this, that EP was actually released AFTER the band’s debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not became the biggest-selling debut album (in first-week sales) in UK history. While subsequently winning major awards, including the last year’s Mercury Prize “Best New Act”, the Arctic Monkeys remain notoriously media shy and declined to appear on UK’s Top of the Pops.
Genre: Indie
Country: UK
Must-have album: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not

Hot Chip. The band’s second album The Warning made it into a lot of year-end best-of list and the album itself was nominated for last year’s Mercury Prize. Hot Chip melds together elements of rock, disco, hip-hop, producing music groovier and quite unlike most dance-punk acts that broke out in recent years.
Genre: Electronic, Indie
Country: UK
Must-have album: The Warning

TV on the Radio. The band’s album Return To Cookie Mountain likewise figured in many best-of lists for 2006, including last year’s best album by Spin Magazine. And they’re likewise championed by David Bowie, who compares their lyricism and melody to Beat Poetry. In terms of sound, TV on the Radio is quite similar to Bloc Party. Both bands are fronted by black vocalists – Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio and Kele Okereke of Bloc Party.
Genre: Electronic, Indie
Country: US (New York)
Must-have album: Return To Cookie Mountain

The Knife. Remember The Cardigans? They’re from Sweden. The Knife also hails from Sweden but they sound nowhere near their “poppier” countrymen. Composed of brother-and-sister duo Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer (the Swedish electronica version of White Stripes?), The Knife was relatively unknown beyond their home country until folk singer did an acoustic version of the band’s song Heartbeats from their 2003 album Deep Cuts. The band’s second album Silent Shout was released last year and was named best album of the year by indie music site
Genre: Electronic, Indie
Country: Sweden
Must-have album: Silent Shout

Cansei de Ser Sexy. Mention any band from Brazil and you’ll probably elicit questions if they are bossanova. Cansei de Ser Sexy (Portuguese for “I’m tired of being sexy.”) is a collective that includes ravishing Latin American women alright. Only they don’t sing in the same fashion as Sitti. Also known as CSS, the band was reported to have gotten their name from quoting pop singer Beyonce, saying the phrase. If, indeed, you’re getting tired of hearing Beyonce (or watching her shaking her booty), it’s about time you check out CSS.
Genre: Electronic, Indie
Country: Brazil
Must-have album: Cansei de Ser Sexy (self-titled)