The Hottest Bands You Haven’t Heard Of… Yet

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Larger independent labels made a very strong showing at the Grammys this year.

But the question remains: in the new music industry, can truly indie acts break through?  This is a story still being written, though a pair of emerging indie bands are worth watching.  That includes LA’s The Airborne Toxic Event and Sacramento’s Far, quite possibly the hottest groups you haven’t heard of – yet.

Airborne has spent the last two years gathering steam and press accolades.  That includes praise from the Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone, which declared Airborne as one of the “Top 25 Bands on MySpace.”  Just recently, the group scored appearances on “Last Call with Carson Daly” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

All in all, this group enjoyed a very big 2008.  The band signed with indie Majordomo Records in April, and released a self-titled full-length album in August.  Soon thereafter, influential Alternative radio stations – including LA’s KROQ, Seattle’s KEXP and Boston’s WFNX – added the single “Sometime Around Midnight” to an immediate reaction.  The song quickly raced up the BigChampagne TopSwaps National Alternative chart, where it is currently the #21 Mover.

Online streaming success soon followed, with 35,000 plays on Imeem, 2.1 million plays on MySpace, steady gains on Napster and Rhapsody, and a huge 4,000+ point leap on Yahoo Music.  Meanwhile, the video has amassed close to 700,000 views on YouTube.

Can you beat that?  Far is also blowing up, and forging its own, unique path.  The group employed a widely successful MySpace strategy with its cover version of Ginuwine’s hit single, “Pony”.  The song has gained serious cult status, and has now been played nearly 2 million times on the band’s MySpace player. It is also being downloaded on P2P networks up to 19,000 times a day, making for a Top 200 debut on the BigChampagne TopSwaps Hit Mainstream chart.

The song may have been originally recorded as a one-off gag under the alias “Hot Little Pony”.  But after it took on a life of its own, the band laid claim to it – cleverly maintaining that their version was a cover of a cover.  Far covering Hot Little Pony covering Ginuwine?  Whatever, the song is hot.

Dig a little deeper, and the back story gets even more interesting.  The song seems to have been the main factor in re-uniting the band, which broke up ten years ago after putting out four albums – including a pair through Happy Walters’ Immortal imprint (Epic/Sony Music Entertainment) in the late 90s.  Incidentally, “Pony” was originally released by Ginuwine in 1996, also through Epic.

Story by analyst Shalewa Sharpe.