Don't let puppets fool you. One look at the amusingly chaotic video for "Mouseface" with its haphazard headbanging, extraterrestrial mascots, and the frolicking friends of head songwriters Sal Cassato and Dakota Loesch, and one might mistakenly judge Chicago-raised rock act Animal City as a gang of goofballs who just happen to have amps laying around the basement of their Pilsen apartments, and find their hooks at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. But listening to how such limber drums, perfectly crunchy guitars and throaty shouts compliment each other from track to track, Animal City is, in fact, no laughing matter.

The band is set to release their sophomore LP, "See You In the Funny Pages," full of buzzy indie-pop that brings to mind the catchy and carefree California slackerdom of Pavement, combined with the enthusiastic, emotive art-rock of groups like Joan of Arc or even Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Cassato (who drummed for both Weatherbox and Mansions on separate tours) and Loesch are known for playing Motown and jazz standards at formal sock-hops at Chicago's Cafe Mustache, as well as having recorded an EP of piano ballads live in a backyard with a friend-filled jacuzzi (which, fittingly enough, ended up with the title "Jacuzzi Pee"). "We're trying not to be one-trick ponies," says Cassato, and clearly the band need not worry about that. These are guys creating their own voice in a city desperately needing one.

Currently at work on a third yet-to-be-titled LP and setting up an early-2013 tour schedule for "Funny Pages."