Spotlight

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Kristian Matsson, aka Tallest Man on Earth
I have to admit, when it comes to Sweden I have a bit of a musical bias. I don’t think I’m alone though. Abba has emotionally scarred a lot of people, and I think it’s fair for all of us to hold a grudge. Plus, the country is also home to a thriving death metal scene. But I suppose I should ease up on the Swedes a bit, and take a bit of time to explore the rest of their music, which lies somewhere between the polar opposites of 70s synth-pop and gloom, doom, and screaming. Nestled deep in that musical valley is Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man on Earth, a man who holds little in common with Abba or In Flames.
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The Little Ones
It’s a beautiful spring day here in the mid-Atlantic, full of blue skies, gentle breezes, and plenty of sunshine. So it seems appropriate to feature a band that comes from a land of sunshine and plays the kind of top-down pop songs that sound best under clear skies. The Little Ones hail from LA, and their songs are as bright and clear as the California sunshine.
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Tahiti Boy and The Palmtree Family
Editor’s note: I have to be on a plane in about 7 hours, so I’m going to rely on Terrorbird Media’s description of Tahiti Boy and the Palmtree Family:

It seems like we’re all waiting for a story these days, some dream to escape to. A tale told by the fireplace with its heroes and villains, a That’s-all-Folks kind of ending and a piano playing I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas with the whole family around it. Tahiti Boy dreamt that dream and turned it into Good Children Go To Heaven. Here’s how the story goes.
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Canadian indie rock band Said the Whale
Canada is very big right now. Despite the fact that their Winter Olympics lacked snow, and their women’s curling team choked in the gold medal game, they got a ton of positive international exposure. My guess is that British Columbia will have a bunch of new folks coming to visit in the next few months, and hopefully they’ll take the opportunity to check out the local music. One of the bands they should really see is Vancouver-based quintet Said the Whale.
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Funk. I can’t think of another musical genre where the name so accurately and succinctly describes what it is. You can try to use other words to describe it, but none of them really fit. When it’s done right the only word that truly encapsulates the music is “funky”. If you don’t know what that means, just listen to The Bamboos and you’ll get it.
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Seattle pop band Mighty Tiger
Music, like fashion and politics, goes in cycles. What was once popular, having faded out of fashion, will likely make its way back to the forefront at some point. But when it comes back it has usually mutated, changed itself in the long journey from obscurity. The new musicians add bits and pieces of other things that have come along since it was first popular, and the end result is something that looks an awful lot like what you remembered, but has changed just enough to be interesting again. Progress is made. The new style that has been created will fade, only to come back later as something new. The cycle begins again.

What does this have to do with Mighty Tiger? They have managed to add a contribution to this cycle, this evolutionary process. They take sunny 60s pop, with it’s simple structures and cheery sound, and add some 80s synths and other eclectic modern elements. The results is something new, but comfortable, like a brand new pair of jeans that’s almost exactly like your favorite old pair of jeans. Or just something fun to listen to.
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Frank Fairfield
Frank Fairfield may well be the best evidence we have that time travel is not only possible, but has already sent folks to us from the past. He looks, sounds, acts, and dresses like a Depression-era blues man, yet he’s a young man living in LA. His music sounds like it should come from a scratchy 78, not an iPod, yet if it wasn’t for YouTube and the internet nobody would have heard of him. While many musicians immerse themselves in a genre, then add a modern twist to it, Fairfield seems intent on keeping a genre alive, exactly as it was. And he’s doing a damn good job of it.
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English rockers The Heavy
Part soul, part funk, part punk, The Heavy is all good. The Bath, England, band mashes all of those influences into a thick paste of awesome. They feature searing horns, crunching riffs, and powerful vocals.
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Sometimes a band catches you by surprise with their music. You hear a song on the radio, on the internet, or in a tv show, and you’re hooked. Other times a friend, author, or website will refer you to a band. These are both relatively normal ways to hear about a band and come to appreciate their music, but they’re not the only ways. In rare cases it’s something else that turns you onto a great band. Sometimes you’re trolling random eastern European message boards looking for bands when a name catches your eye. Since the page is in a language you can’t understand you don’t know anything about them except their name. But what a name it is. So you look them up, track down some videos on YouTube, listen to some music, and you’re hooked. This is precisely how I found The Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir.
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They formed in New York, named themselves after a Canadian province, recorded in Austin, and are led by a couple of Brits. Maybe that’s why their sound is hard to pin down. Alberta Cross released their first album last year, and it’s a great mix of influences and styles.
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