1. White Rabbits, circa Daytrotter Sessions, 2007. This band is definitely worth a listen, and my recommendation would have to be their unreleased song Sea of Rum. This song is about a guy who meets the devil in Connecticut and gets thrown in the drunk tank, what's not to love! Its got everything, playful drum beats, lyrics worthy of a late night drunken jam session and music so enchanting you can't help but dance around. Other songs offered on Daytrotter Sessions are Navy Wives from Forty Nights, Beehive State that's currently unreleased, and Untitled which, surprise, is unreleased. Almost Ragtime is style their sometimes dark and serious lyrics remain awkwardly upbeat, almost saying, "screw it, let's just drink whiskey"
Might also like Drakkar Sauna, same piano sound from a smokey 50's club, just more obvious with their twisted lyrics.
2. Ra Ra Riot, circa Daytrotter Sessions, 2007. I was enamored with this band, solely because of their name. Face it, anymore that's all you have to go off of since it seems, everyone is in a band! However, after listening to their raw samplings on Daytrotter I was blown away, that was not was I expected from a band with Riot in the name. Beautiful, almost breath-taking, violin, lyrics that are mesmerizing and a sound almost pop in style (in a good way). I have no one recommendation, all are download worthy, and with Daytrotter being free how can you resist? If you are looking for a fun group, with songs that make you feel are warm and fuzzy, then they are for you!
Might also like Andrew Bird if my description gave you a tooth ache it was so sweet. He is minus the female vocals, more experimental with his sound and has positively beautiful lyrics.
3. The Walkmen, circa everywhere and anytime. This band is by far my favorite of all time, and of this list. They actually were close to being shut out, but quickly redeemed themselves by offering their new record You & Me, on aimestreet for $5, and with donating $5 to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for every record sold, I love these guys even more. My gigantic crush on Hamilton aside, I have to say these guys know how to make a killer record. With common themes of love, love lost, dreams, and the trivially mundane, there is something for everyone. Their sound can range from just plain rocking out with raspy vocals to what I can only describe as a 60's prom band, if the prom was for the sensitive bad-asses who hated sock hops. I highly recommend Thinking of a Dream I Had on Bows & Arrows, 2002. This song offers a great preview into the range of The Walkmen, and more importantly Hamilton's vocals. Their new single off of You & Me, titled In the New Year, just shows that over time The Walkmen just get better at developing their music. For a true glimpse into their musical range, and variety, check out Daytrotter.com (noticing a theme?) and listen to their covers of Leonard Cohen.
Might also like Bob Dylan, as if you don't your crazy. The storytelling and raspy, and at time painful vocals, pay homage to the folk legend and rock god. Also, I have heard U2, but I disagree. But, as I always say, you have to make your own opinion.