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Tracks from Another Planet:

Tracks from Another Planet:

Tracks to check out:

(all can be sampled on #1 Hits From Another Planet)

Performance – It’s Bad and It’s Just Begun

Performance is a ridiculously fun guy/girl group from England. They’re very new, and their influences are evident (think a synthpop Franz Ferdinand with some chirpy female vocals popping up sporadically – or an even better Matinee Club). This is not their single (that’d be the equally excellent “Short Sharp Shock”), but it’s a standout of their work so far. Opening with a sprinkling of synth that’s quickly joined by a shimmering dance beat, the song easily retains its momentum through its nearly four minutes, the best part being when the female backing comes in.

The Rinse – Naughty

I’m continually amazed. Just as the whole dance-rock genre should be getting old, I find another band that brings something new to the music. “Naughty” will draw comparisons to Maroon 5 and The Feeling with an added electro edge. In other words, it is unstoppably good. Frontman Will Bates has lived in both the UK and America, and the dual influence is felt in the band’s music. If you like this song, which you will, I encourage you to stop by their website and download the rest of them they have up for free. They’re all just as good.

Swedish for Beginners – This City Is Not for Me

If you’re not convinced by the rollicking classic rock-meets-electronic beat of this track, wait until the inescapable chorus. Like so many great rock/pop acts right now, it rekindles some magical energy from the past and twists it into something current. Swedish for Beginners (from Sweden, as if you hadn’t guessed) is primarily Johan Signert, who composes all of the music. Then he’s joined by up to eight people onstage for a true rock symphony. Sounds very cool.

Small Feral Token – A Girl’s Best Friend

Small Feral Token, in addition to having one of the stranger group names I’ve come across, are also eerily reminiscent at times of an electronically-backed Tori Amos split with (at times) Canada’s Tegan & Sara. The band consists of Lotta and Natalie, two young girls living in Stockholm. Their music is mostly downbeat in sound but very much alive lyrically. Best of all, like a few other bands from Sweden, their entire musical output is available for free on their website. Of the songs I’ve heard, “A Girl’s Best Friend” was the instant standout. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from the lyrics as to what exactly a girl’s best friend is. Hint: it’s not a rock.

– Nick James