Some have been around for a year or two, but 2009 saw these acts come into their own, playing the mainstays of the music scene. My personal favorites among many — and that’s saying a lot.
1. Sons of Hippies – Married duo Katherine Kelly and Jonas Canales break all the rules and bring back the rebelliousness of 80s punk and the idealism of 60s folk to paint their own stark and beautiful picture from jagged puzzles pieces of the past.
2. Stolen Idols – The soundtrack to a hep tiki party, Stolen Idols perform smooth lounge exotica with earthy percussion, inspired by tropical locales and composers Les Baxter and Martin Denny. Live, torches often line the stage and the guys wear Hawaiian or guayabera shirts while bird sounds coo through the PA.
3. Beardsley – Pop eats itself and twists itself on a fork with mind-bending noodles. Wash it all down with sweet catchiness, evocative lyrics and a playful stage presence. Member Andy Craven talks about the silly and the regal. You could characterize Beardsley’s music in a similar manner.
4. The Sheaks – Timeless pop and rock ’n roll that’s at times pleasant, raucous and always infectious. The savvy players in this band sport a keen awareness of the backlashes and cravings of musical trends; I heard drummer Hunter Oswald can predict what you’re going to have for dinner next Saturday.
5. Tie: Glasgow and Gentlemen, Please – Glasgow takes the best, dominant forces of the Tampa music scene, indie-pop atmospherics and folk, to create one crafty coalition of sounds. Gentlemen, Please performs otherworldly, intelligent and listenable pop brought home by Alastair St. Hill’s strong and intimate vocal; artistic challenge without the cringe.