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An alternative band in the old-fashioned sense of the word -- and by old-fashioned, that means, say, circa 1994 -- Los Angeles quartet Acute start from a base of catchy, poppy tunes seemingly influenced by the more overtly clever end of mainstream pop, everyone from the Beatles and 10cc to XTC and the Flaming Lips. Acute then layer their songs with an ear-pleasing variety of hooks, unexpected melodic twists, weird noises, and interesting arrangements to create a varied but instantly memorable sound. Acute formed in 2005 as an outgrowth and artistic expansion of leader Isaac Lekach's former project, Poulain. Poulain had been essentially a one-man show, but Lekach had put together a touring band in support of the group's second record, 2003's For Passengers. Bonding with touring bassist Colt Maloney, Lekach moved from his home base of Florida to Los Angeles to form Acute with Maloney and drummer Patrick Edwards, formerly of the power pop combo Ozma, later adding keyboardist Jason Borger. The quartet recorded its 2006 debut EP, Selections, with well-known indie producer Dave Trumfio, who was also behind the board for Acute's full-length debut, Arms Around a Stranger, which came out in May 2007. ~ Stewart Mason