We've got our finger on the pulse of America!" sings Angus Andrew of the Liars on their debut album, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top. Take the lyric at face value, and you'd think it was a declaration of the crossover dreams of the city's mushrooming music scene, an inspired (and yes, only in New York) patchwork of electro, neo-garage, art-rock, and post-punk. But the Liars -- and players in the scene itself -- seem to know better, and they're the better for it. After all, New York's bands are too smart, too weird, and too raw to attract a pop audience bred on Britney Spears and American Idol. So why does New York's music scene matter? Because this is the most vital and diverse moment in the city's musical history since the early eighties. Because it has made Brooklyn cool. Because it is the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of the cynical, pay-me-now nineties. Because it has eased the pain of an apocalyptic moment last fall. Because asking why it matters (or who might snag record-company lucre) is utterly irrelevant to most bands here. Is New York the next big thing? To quote Nirvana: Nevermind.