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 (two times!), Dayton (Ohio), Silver Lake (California) and Portland.

Smokey Brights, “I Love You But Damn,” Seattle
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There’s something truly American about Smokey Brights. That motor-revving, wistful quality, part-courage, part-feelings dripping down off torn shirtsleeves. With the band’s latest release on Freakout Records, Smokey Brights offers a restrained-yet-yearning single. It’s a slow burn, a marathon drive across the country. A journey during which you’ll lose your last photo album but somehow make enough memories to fill two more.

Naked Giants, “Take A Chance,” Seattle
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If you give Naked Giants 30 seconds of your time, you’ll realize one thing very quickly: the band knows the kookiest corners of your mind. With signature subtly the band explodes. Little tones of voice, little dance moves, vacant-yet-brilliant smiles. It’s like you and the band have the favorite cartoons, for sure. The band’s latest single is a window – or three – into the psyche of the group (and yours!). It’s stupendous.

Al Holbrook, “Transcendent Love,” Dayton
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There are few storytellers as capable and compelling as Al Holbrook. The oft-touring international musician of mystery boasts a big, bold voice complete with gravel scratch from a night sharing secrets with a shot or two of Scotch. Coupled with that gift, Holbrook is a skilled piano player and showman. If you come across the musician on some wobbly night in some wobbly city, take a seat.

Stephen, “Delilah,” Silver Lake
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Taking in Stephen’s latest single is a study in seasons. In one moment, you’re methodically trickling with him down a stream in spring. Suddenly, though, the calendar sheds a few pages and it’s winter. The stream you’re in is frozen, broken and breaking percussively. Then the summer heat befalls you, sweating with wonder and curiosity. Autumn comes and you’re gifted the hope of regeneration. If love is true, as Stephen seems to believe in his bones, then he’ll see you again with another spin of the song.

Ural Thomas and the Pain, “Slow Down,” Portland
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Does Ural Thomas have the best voice on planet earth? Possibly. Putting aside that conversation, Thomas’ message in this song is essential. If inner peace is truly something inward, they why the rush? Slow down. Here, we’ll give you a moment. Take one… two… three. Deep breath. Okay, good job! This recent single from Ural Thomas and the Pain is a mantra from a master. Thank goodness he took his time and he’s here to remind us to take ours.

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