• After breaking free from the USSR in 1991, the tiny yet vibrant nation of Estonia established itself as an economically sound entity. Not that life is perfect here, but they did just elect their first woman president and have been experiencing a boon in great music. Here are five Estonian acts we highly recommend.

    Iiris

     

    Grimes meets the Cocteau Twins in the guise of Iiris, a seraphic singer who has been hailed by the blogosphere. Her “Iridescent Love” drives straight into the listener’s neurons, radiating like Bjork’s Biophilia. She released her latest EP, Hope (Dreamweaver), in March 2016. Thanks to Music Estonia for the introduction!

     

    Markus Robam

     

    An ambient mastermind who ought to be scoring David Fincher films, Markus Robam plays on the psyche and seduces the senses. His works are minimalist understatements, demanding multiple listens—until the experience swallows you whole. His latest is the autumnal Kodu, available on Bandcamp.

     

    5LOOPS

     

    This hip-hop collective keeps things real simple: four members, five loop samples. Wearing their love of ’90s hip-hop on their sleeves, sPoom, Hr.Kivi, DJ Kayot and Otto throw down like honorary members of Tommy Boy Entertainment. Catch them if you can on the European festival circuit.

     

    Ewert and the Two Dragons

     

    Nothing like a little Estonian folk to enrapture the soul. Ewert and the Two Dragons breathe life into a sometimes reserved genre, with the eponymous front man’s alluringly gruff voice. Pianos, glacial sounds and poetic lyrics paint the songs, and albums such as 2015’s Circles complement works by Jeff Buckley and Mumford & Sons. (Lead image by Mart Vares.)

     

    Angus

     

    This ska-reggae collective takes the summer with it wherever it goes, on the strength of chill-out tunes such as "Tihti Tähti." Their Soundcloud profile emphasizes that they’re “full of sunshine and brightness,” evident in their rollicking live performances and their friendly smiles. The eight members of Angus keep things light and cheery.

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