Spotlight on: Psychic Hearts

Emerging as one of Athens' brightest young acts this year, Psychic Hearts replaces the city's traditional rural indie-rock sound with gloomy pop melodies. Sharing more in common with Joy Division and Gang of Four than peers/predecessors Elf Power or Neutral Milk Hotel, the group's fiery presence is a beacon of change illuminating Athens' musical landscape. This sense of change is the group's strongest ally according to guitarist/vocalist Matthew Rain. "One of the great things about Athens is the variety here," Rain says. "The local scene is always changing because the population is always changing, so people are always looking to embrace a new sound."

Since spring 2004, Rain, drummer Carr Chadwick, and bass/keyboardist Nicole Cashin have been honing a sound the group calls "heavy new-wave, disco shoe-gaze." The group released a self-titled EP last August and talks of a full-length album surround the band. For Psychic Hearts, taking time to craft a recording that can stand on its own merits and outlive the hype machine is a matter of essential importance.

"People ask, 'Why don't you do a full-length now?'" says Rain. "To be honest, this is all new to us and we don't know who to trust or what's realistic. We're still a young band in a fragile place and we need to take time to make the strongest, most creative effort we can. There are so many great bands out there that if you don't do something significant, you're going to disappear."

Psychic Hearts play Lenny's, with the Hiss and Shock Cinema, Fri., July 8, 9 p.m. $8. 307 Memorial Drive. 404-577-7721. www.lennysbar.com.??