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New and notable in 2007

Ten debuts by Southland bands that were more than blips on the 2007 radar.

FOREIGN BORN

www.myspace.com/foreignborn

“On the Wing Now” (Dim Mak)

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How the insistent, anthemic rock of this L.A. quartet was overlooked for so long (this was actually self-released in ’06) is a mystery. Already set to record its sophomore album, Foreign Born has established itself as one of top indie rock acts in L.A., and certainly the best to use sleigh bells.

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GREAT NORTHERN

www.greatnorthernmusic.com

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“Trading Twilight for Daylight” (Eenie Meenie)

Dense, swirling melodies and the boy-girl vocals of Solon Bixler and Rachel Stolte add up to swoon-worthy shimmer and cinematic splendor on this tour de force from a group of Silver Lake veterans.

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SEA WOLF

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www.myspace.com/seawolf

“Leaves in the River” (Dangerbird)

With his tributary-themed EP (“Get to the River Before It Runs Too Low”), ex-Irving bassist Alex Brown Church has issued a catalog of orchestrated pop so pretty it ought to be a painting.

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CULVER CITY DUB COLLECTIVE

www.myspace.com/

“DOS” (Everloving)

How to sound at once classic and current? Masterminded by Adam Topol and Franchot Tone, this debut -- heavy on the heavyweight guests -- adds modern electronica to a sturdy foundation of roots reggae and bossa nova.

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SECRETARY BIRD

www.myspace.com/secretarybird

“Secretary Bird” (In De Goot)

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Truly a hidden gem. Mike Semple (Friends of Dean Martinez, Giant Sand) wraps his twangy desert rock in Neil Young-worthy guitar textures -- wistful yet thorny.

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JESCA HOOP

www.jescahoop.com

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“Kismet” (Columbia)

Tom Waits, who once employed her as a nanny, has this to say about the 31-year-old’s work: “Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night.” Sweet and off-kilter, as rich in imagination as observation.

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THE BROKEN WEST

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www.myspace.com/thebrokenwest

“I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On” (Merge)

Ross Flournoy and his jangly indie-pop quartet are already at work on the follow-up to this January release.

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LAVENDER DIAMOND

www.lavenderdiamond.com

“Imagine Our Love” (Matador)

The sweet folk-country stylings built on Becky Stark’s watercolor vocals are as devoid of irony as they are brimming with optimism.

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TEST YOUR REFLEX

www.testyourreflex.net

“The Burning Hour” (RCA)

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Radio-ready Thousand Oaks quintet back up their U2-indebted anthems with a winsome sincerity and youthful abandon.

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ROBERT FRANCIS

www.myspace.com/robertfrancis

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“One by One” (Aeronaut)

Is this kid really only 19? The onetime pupil of Ry Cooder and John Frusciante writes spare meditations that resonate with a worldly ache, milking every ounce of emotion out of strummed guitar, plucked banjo, pedal steel and tinkling piano.


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