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Music Under the Radar that Should Be on Your Mainstream

Stephanie DePrez | Monday, March 22, 2010

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who’s name-dropped a band and you’ve nodded emphatically, agreeing that said band is so good/cool/innovative, only to completely forget the name the minute you walk away?
Fear no more, because here is a list of some of the most noteworthy music out there today, at least in the category of slightly-more-important. Did I unforgivably ignore your favorite? E-mail me and maybe I’ll include it in the next list.

Damien Rice
If you have never heard of this guy, drop the paper and go YouTube him right now. He’s probably the most swoon-worthy cult indie artist of our time, and most people who have heard him swear to have a deep, personal relationship with him. Epic folk songs indeed.
Tracks to tap: “The Blower’s Daughter,” “9 Crimes,” “Cannonball”

Alexi Murdoch
This man is the Damien Rice of Scotland. Other than the ubiquitous teen-TV-series-exploited “Orange Sky,” Murdoch’s music was featured heavily in the movie “Away We Go.” His grainy baritone lends itself perfectly to the wistful but hopeful lyrics that politely tug at the heart.
Tracks to tap: “Orange Sky,” “Breathe,” “Song For You”

Amos Lee
Lee is far more soul than folk but has the sensibility to be delicate with his songs. Lee’s music doesn’t favor love stories of the wistful but is heavy on the social justice — which he does well. His music gracefully marries acoustic and plugged-in. It’s jam-worthy in the way that makes you want to lean back and drink a cold iced-tea.
Tracks to tap: “Street Corner Preacher,” “Shout Out Loud,” “Supply and Demand”

The Bird and the Bee
This electronic pop duo had minor success with their “Grey’s Anatomy” soundtrack song, “Again and Again.” Inara George’s light but pointed voice makes all of her lyrics seem slightly tongue-in-cheek. But that doesn’t detract from this band’s pop flavor that balances Los Angeles sunshine with New York savvy.
Tracks to tap: “Again and Again,” “Love Letter to Japan,” “F*cking Boyfriend”

Frightened Rabbit
This indie band is from Scotland and belts out lyrics that beg to be lapped up. Slightly quirky but always positive, these guys just released a new album, solidifying their position in the indie-cult arena. And they’re just a bit more accessible than, say, the Shins, which is a plus.
Tracks to tap: “Keep Yourself Warm,” “Old Old Fashioned,” “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”

The Gabe Dixon Band
Piano rock with a folk-kick that ends up being the most delicious trio band experience this side of Nashville. The fact that most of their music is so piano-driven means that even when it’s heavy, it’s not overwhelming. They deliver feel-good music with an inventive take on love and life. Note: this band will make you curse your parents for letting you drop piano lessons in the fifth grade.
Tracks to tap: “Find My Way,” “All Will Be Well,” “Five More Hours”

Josh Ritter
A man of blatant Americana and the Irish — the nationality, not Notre Dame — love him. But we should, because he’s unafraid to bounce back and forth between truly folk and lyrically hip. Ritter seems to have cornered (or created) the market for indie-country-folk, and many of his songs are quite radio-worthy.
Tracks to tap: “Snow is Gone,” “Good Man,” “The Temptation of Adam”

Jose Gonzalez
A man and his guitar, and that is all you need. His circular strumming patterns become hypnotic, and on them Gonzalez layers some of the most poignant poetry of the New Folk movement. He can either be tempered homework tunes or the backdrop of a soul-searching conversation.
Tracks to tap: “Heartbeats,” “Teardrop,” “Crosses.”

Contact Stephanie DePrez at sdeprez@nd.edu