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Former Black and White Jacksons guitarist Tim George formed Dizzy Spells with Kelela Mizanekristos, and the group’s songs can be ethereal and deeply felt or playful and jagged. The band describes itself as “Rock/Americana/Neo-Soul,” which is pretty apt, but it ignores the woozy trip-hop sound that’s all over “Laser Light.” You can stream that song and others at Dizzy Spells’ MySpace page. The District-based group, now a four-piece, performs tonight at 9 p.m. at the Velvet Lounge. Tickets are $8.

More soulful, minimalistic indie bands after the jump: gothy bawlers, Brits lip-syncing to R&B, and a poorly timed Michael Jackson cover!

Zola Jesus (2006-present): Twenty-year-old Wisconsin native Nika Roza Danilova has a large voice and some really scuzzy-sounding synths—not a bad set of circumstances, since she can wail like Aretha Franklin and mope like Michael Gira, whose band Swans took gothy ’80s post-punk and made it arty and iconoclastic. Which perhaps explains how Danilova hooked up with another purveyor of emotive, rough-around-the edges spookiness—Xiu Xiu frontman Jamie Stewart—for her newest project, Former Ghosts.

The xx (2005—present): This restrained London four-piece, whose music is very hushed and extremely slow, is one of 2009’s buzzier acts—at least partially because of its blog-pleasing covers of Aaliyah‘s “Hot Like Fire” and Kyla‘s “Do You Mind?” So it’s a comforting thought that a band responsible for such thoughtful, self-serious music clearly spent its teenage years bawling along to American R&B in front of a bedroom mirror. The xx performs at DC9 on Nov. 15.

Discovery (2005—present): This dreamy, genre-hopping side project featuring members of Ra Ra Riot and Vampire Weekend isn’t quite appropriative, but it’s clearly a plate for the semiguilty musical tastes—and apparent affinity for high hat—they’re willing to only partially absorb into their day bands. The duo’s debut album dropped 12 days after Michael Jacksondied, so its cover of “I Want You Back” felt pretty poorly timed—but still well-meaning, and certainly audacious.

Wildbirds & Peacedrums (2006—present): This Swedish husband-and-wife duo makes erratic songs with nothing but percussion instruments and steamy vocals, yet it comes away with a sound that’s full-bodied, exciting, and utterly singular.