This year’s edition of Coachella – an event of music and debauchery in the California desert happening this weekend and next – is headlined by festival vets Blur, the Stone Roses, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nick Cave. But if one looks deeper into the program and focuses on the festival poster’s finer print, there are promising acts on the rise (and we’re not talking about the second coming of Tupac). The five to watch are:
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ALLEN STONE — Remy Shand, is that you? As we continue to speculate on the whereabouts of the long-lost Winnipeg soul-popster, here comes Allen Stone, a funky, blue-eyed, Washington replacement who wears horn-rimmed glasses on his face, confetti on his shoulders and influences on his sleeves. He does spongy upbeat tunes in the key of Stevie Wonder, sports a floppy-hat hippie aesthetic and sings such things as Celebrate Tonightwith a likable sincerity.
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JAKE BUGG— For his cheek and melodiousness, the precocious singer-songwriter from East Midlands has earned Noel Gallagher’s approval. Perhaps the former Oasis badboy sees a bit of himself in the 19-year-old Bugg, or possibly he hears influences ranging from the Beatles to Donovan to Don McLean. “So I hold two fingers up to yesterday,” the young man sings, “light a cigarette and smoke it all away.” Watch him, going forward.
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PURITY RING— The soulful Canadian electronica duo are a sight, what with the expansive costumes of vocalist Megan James and the uniquely lit contraption on which Corin Roddick produces sounds and beats. It adds up to dance music with a little thrill and a little chill – a sure-fire hit in the California desert and beyond.
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WILD BELLE— “I gotta pretty face,” coos Natalie Bergman on the cool tropical tune Keep You, “and I wear a nice dress.” So, there’s that. There’s also her saxophone-playing brother Elliot, whose reed work keeps the Chicago duo’s dewy mix of feather-light reggae and chic indie-pop grounded. The debut album is Isles and the siblings’ breeze is picking up.
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LORD HURON— This is interesting. Ben Schneider, the scene-setting leader of L.A.’s light folk-rock project Lord Huron, bases his dreamy music and characters on adventure novels that don’t exist – he’s even set up a web site dedicated to an imaginary author. “Part of [my] universe is a haze, a mystery that hangs over everything,” Schneider once told an interviewer. “It’s important for me to maintain that.” The music itself is windswept and soft-focused – a mistier My Morning Jacket.