They may be signed to Equal Vision, but you'd be hard-pressed to call Dear and the Headlights punk. Rather, last year's Small Steps, Heavy Hooves is a grabby showcase of swollen pop anthems. There are still razor-sharp guitars, though, and front man Ian Metzger's cathartic vocal presence is the heart of the band, at once empowering and tugged with melancholy. Bright Eyes and the Cure seem to be key influences on his singing, but the band's arrangements skew toward such indie-rock earmarks as the Arcade Fire and the Walkmen. Put it all together, and these melody-mad anthems climb dramatically toward big-layered finishes that lift Metzger's Everyman sentiments to the heavens. It's not punk; it's just good songwriting.
Sun., July 6, 7:30 p.m., 2008