Five to Discover: Acts You Need To Know

In this – the age of the Coronavirus – many of us are stuck at home, isolated with only TV screens and the glow of laptops and phones to keep us connected. In other words, there isn’t much to do.

Videos by American Songwriter

However, one thing that is available to us all is the wide world of recorded music. And now is as good a time as ever to get to know some bands you may not have heard of but ones that you will assuredly enjoy, dear reader.

So, buckle up and get ready for a digital ride around Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Newcastle (U.K.) and San Francisco.

Medejin, “World’s Fair,” Seattle
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There’s such a thin line between fame and passion projects and while Medejin may not be the most famous band on earth, the group’s music reminds of most excellent projects like Zero 7 and Angel Olsen. Dreamy guitars meet dreamier vocals backed by sharp rhythms. In this song, the Emerald City band floats like mist atop sand as an ocean breathes.

Brown Calculus, “Self Care,” Portland
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There’s something simultaneously so smooth and yet so off-kilter about this Portland, Oregon-based duo. It must be that the region helps to foster groups like this (see: Knife Knights, THEESatisfaction, Mirrorgloss). Yet. Brown Calculus stands uniquely, sunglassed-faces staring at the stars as the music like roots from the earth grows from the ground up and touches the midnight sky. Music like an eternal spring of water.

Dominique Johnson, “Waiting on You,” Chicago
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A supremely skilled organist and keys player, Dominique Johnson shows on this song, too, that she is equally as skilled as a songwriter. Here, Johnson uses the uplifting, buoyant energy of her spiritual sensibilities to reach her audience. In this song, she tells us, she’s here, if we’re ready. She is waiting on us. And she caps the whole thing off with a display of effortless piano playing.

NOPRISM, “Happiness,” Newcastle
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Recalling some of the most prominent bands of the late 70s and 80s, NOPRISM brings synths, echoing vocals and gang choruses back to the forefront. What a thrill to have these sounds run and reverberate through the bones again. There is a comradery amidst the band’s music, like a work crew out for drinks at their favorite watering hole now that the job is done. Next round’s on me! That sense of giving is what makes up the music of this band across the pond.

Samaria, “Trippin,” San Francisco
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This Bay Area artist has as silky a voice as many of the prominent R&B singers who’ve come before her. From Ella Mai to Kelly Roland, Samaria can hang with the best. She’s a random thought away from that perfect hook. And in the mean time, she releases excellent tracks like this one. Her heart bleeds through her pen. It’s clear here and in each of her aching tracks.

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