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furcastthebandThe Best Rarely Heard Songs series continues today with music from bands that many of you have probably never heard of: Furcast, Ape School, Regrets and Brunettes, Lower Heaven and Pure Ecstasy.

indie duo Furcast - comprised of Johann Carbajal and Vincent Mazza - evoke a dark, cinematic film noir sound on the track, "Grey is Old," a composition which could have fit nicely on a Kill Bill soundtrack. Shortly after the mid-point of the nearly seven-minute track, the song explodes into a brief fury, and subsequently transforms into a creepy, shifting piano and percussion piece that ultimately winds down and fades away, leaving the listener transfixed. Chances are if you like this track, you'll enjoy most or all of Furcast's debut EP, Together. Massive Attack fans take special note.

"Grey is Old" - Furcast from Together
Furcast on MySpace

On "Wail to God," one-man band Michael Johnson, aka Ape School, carries along the torch of film noir influenced music, and takes it to another level with the ascent of firey, almost disco-esque, beats accompanied by a neo-psych, Moog-heavy flare. The two and a half minute reverb-loving track closes with a steady descent "back to earth," complete with space alien-like sound effects. Throughout the Ape Man debut, Johnson's influences, which range from Phil Spector and Brian Eno to The Beach Boys and Animal Collective, are unmistakable. Before founding Ape School, Johnson was briefly a member of two terrific bands, the Lilys, and Florida's indie outfit, Holopaw.

"Wail to God" - Ape School from s/t debut
Ape School on MySpace

The attraction to Los Angeles indie rock band Regrets & Brunettes was immediate within the first half minute of hearing the band's song, "Tough Love," off their debut LP, At Night You Love Me, released last December. This single is the perfect precursor to the album itself, so if you really dig this track, you're probably going to love the album.

"Tough Love" - Regrets and Brunettes from s/t debut
Regrets and Brunettes on MySpace

Lower Heaven are an accomplished quintet from the Silverlake area of Los Angeles that crafts haunting, reverb-heavy melodies obviously influenced by some of their favorite self-proclaimed bands, such as My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mary Chain. Lower Heaven took their name from the lyrics of an Echo and the Bunnymen song, and they've opened for bands such as the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Darker My Love and The Black Angels.

"Fruitless" - Lower Heaven from Ashes
Lower Heaven on MySpace

Pure Ecstasy crafts sweet, lo-fi psychedelic pop reverberations that sound a bit like Wavves and Animal Collective in myosis. While we usually dislike songs that stop and restart at various points in the composition, Pure Ecstasy's track, "Easy," is too good to pass up. We hope the band will receive more "blog love" soon, and continue to grow their fan following.

"Easy" - Pure Ecstasy from Voices
Pure Ecstasy on MySpace

Other installments in this series:

Best Rarely Heard Songs of 2009, Vol. I - Sun Airway, The Ambience Affair, Brian Olive, The Bats, Land of Talk & More

Best Rarely Heard Songs of 2009, Vol. II - Ex Norwegian, We All Have Hooks for Hands, Pistol for Ringo and Fredrik


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The idea for this playlist is simple - a collection of great songs from 2009 that most people probably haven't heard. But we're doing our little part to change that in this on-going mix series.

From the first spin of Ex-Norwegian's debut CD, Standby, early in 2009, it was clear that the Miami band were going places. Although they are still mainly a little-known band with big talent, they've made rumbles within the indie rock world - especially in Florida - thanks to songs like the mini-hit, "Something Unreal," the staccato rhythms of "Fujeira in My Dreams," and the power pop hooks of "Fresh Pit."

While their band name may not capture the imagination of the masses, their music is spirited, engaging and often irresistible. Put me on the mailing list for your next CD too guys!

"Something Unreal" - Ex-Norwegian from Standby

Ex-Norwegian on FaceBook

It's not often that you hear about a band from South Dakota, a state better known for Mount Rushmore and Wounded Knee than a hotspring of musical talent. But Sioux Falls indie folk-pop band, and Afternoon Records recording artist, We All Have Hooks for Hands, have secured their piece of the Mid-West indie scene in recent years with their energetic, chorus-filled songs. Their second, and latest LP, The Shape of Energy, didn't receive much buzz, but it's a fine follow-up to their 2007 full-length debut, The Pretender.

"Made Up of Tiny Lights" - We All Have Hooks for Hands from The Shape of Energy

We All Have Hooks For Hands on MySpace

It's hard to be a standout band - or even create a buzz - in a big, music-centric city like San Francisco, even with acclaimed singer/songwriter, playwright, author, and one-time troubadour piano man Sonny Smith at the helm. But the ever-changing line-up of Sonny and The Sunsets pump out "busted beach pop" that tells stories that touch on despair, aging, sexuality, and the absurdity, irony and humor of everyday life.

"Too Young to Burn (Tomorrow Is Alright)" - Sonny and the Sunsets from Tomorrow is Alright

Sonny and the Sunsets on MySpace


With a name like Pistol for Ringo, you can probably already guess what the most common question this LA-based band is asked; however, it's more likely the band's name is derivative of the 1965 Italian-Spanish spaghetti Western, A Pistol for Ringo, than pop music's most famous drummer, Ringo Starr.

That said, the band's penchant for 80s synth pop and well-crafted rock compositions won them praise for their debut LP, Solid State Neo-Hedonist. Pistol for Ringo's 2009 four-track release, Slow Roller, failed to garner the same enthusiastic kudos as their accomplished debut LP, but still demonstrates AllMusic Guide's 2008 declaration that the band have the "potential for making an unreservedly great dream pop/rock album."

"Love Is Like Water" - Pistol for Ringo from Slow Roller

Pistol for Ringo on MySpace

What is it about Sweden that has been turning out so many amazing bands in recent years? And a lot of them are otherwise under-the-radar. This next band, Fredrik, is no exception. Their latest album, Trilogi, was largely overlooked, much to the dismay of folks who realize this is a band with talent and plenty of promise in the years to come. Put Fredrik on your bands to watch list for 2010 and beyond.

"Locked in the Basement" - Fredrik from Trilogi

Fredrik on MySpace

Check back, there will be more Best Rarely Heard Songs of 2009 and other 09 mixes, plus the hottest new releases of 2010.


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