09/17/2010 10:57 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dog Ears Music: Volume 141


Malian roots ensemble Tinariwen, founded in 1979, is co-captained by vocalists/guitarists Ibrahim Ag Alhabib ("Abaraybone") and Hassan Ag Touhami ("Le Lion du Desert"). Among the current members are Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni ("Catastrophe") on acoustic guitar, the poet Mohammed Ag Itlale ("Japonais"), and Eyadou Ag Leche on bass and calabash. The unit rings a message of hope through tales of hardship and political upheaval, steeped in Tuareg lore of the Sahara region. Discover the Northwest African blues sound with "Enseqi Ehad Didagh," from Tinariwen's 2009 release Imidiwan: Companions. Buy full album!

Genre: World

Artist: Tinariwen

Song: Enseqi Ehad Didagh

Album: Imidiwan: Companions

Jesca Hoop
California-raised singer/songwriter Jesca Hoop was born into a musical Mormon household, one of five children. After leaving the nest by way of Wyoming and Arizona, Hoop landed in L.A., where she made her bones. Championed by Tom Waits, she's collaborated/shared stages with Polyphonic Spree, Elbow, Andrew Bird, Stewart Copeland, and Mark Knopfler, among others. Hoop's sophomore 2010 release, Hunting My Dress, produced by Tony Berg, is powerful and mellifluous. Start with "Enemy," from Jesca Hoop's freshman release Kismet (2008).

Genre: Alternative

Artist: Jesca Hoop

Song: Enemy

Album: Kismet

The Magic Numbers
U.K. rockers The Magic Numbers are made up of two brother-sister acts, and longtime friends: Romeo and Michele Stodart and Angela and Sean Gannon. These London club favorites issued their tenderfoot release in 2004, followed by two more full lengths to date. Collaborations/shared stages include Amadou & Mariam, Travis, Ed Harcourt, Snow Patrol, The Pixies, Ben Harper, and The Strokes. Credits include The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Catch and Release soundtracks. Get to know The Magic Numbers with "Hurt So Good," from their 2010 set The Runaway--produced by Romeo Stodart and Valgeir Sigurðsson (Björk, Bonnie Prince Billy, Múm), with string arrangements by the late Robert Kirby (Nick Drake).

Genre: Rock

Artist: The Magic Numbers

Song: Hurt So Good

Album: The Runaway

Chris Letcher
Durban, South Africa, composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Letcher, now U.K. based, lives in an ethereal region of rock. During the mid-'90s, Letcher made two great albums as part of his hometown's legendary über-rock unit Urban Creep. By the early aughts, he relocated to London to study music and reset his career as a solo artist/composer. Collaborations include Dave Matthews, Xavier Rudd, and Vusi Mahlasela. Credits include film scores for My Black Little Heart (2009) and the upcoming Palace of Bone. Begin your Chris Letcher collection with "Sketch," from his 2007 solo album Frieze.

Genre: Alternative

Artist: Chris Letcher

Song: Sketch

Album: Frieze

Department of Eagles
Heady rock unit Department of Eagles was founded at the hit of the aughts by NYU freshmen Daniel Rossen (a member of Grizzly Bear) and Fred Nicolaus. The duo have shared songwriting, guitar, and vocals duties since their inception. Their old school chum, Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor, produced and engineered Department of Eagles's 2008 project In Ear Park. Taylor also plays bass and flute on the album and often tours with Rossen and Nicolaus. Download Department of Eagle's latest, the 2010 single "Brightest Minds."

Genre: Alternative

Artist: Department of Eagles

Song: Brightest Minds

Album: Brightest Minds-Single

Renaldo Domino
Funk/soul singer Renaldo Domino was born Renaldo Jones on Chicago's South Side last mid-century. Nearing the age of 16, he made waves on the Windy City's soul scene, and as a senior at Calumet High School, he inked his first contract. Nicknamed "Domino" for his sweet voice, he cut a few sides for Mercury Records, then went on to the Twinight label. His career remains mostly a local phenom. Uncover this classic voice of soul, a talent deserving of a mainstream audience, with "Nevermore," recorded in the late '60s, from Eccentric Soul: Twinight's Lunar Rotation.

Genre: Soul/R&B

Artist: Renaldo Domino

Song: Nevermore

Album: Eccentric Soul: Twinight's Lunar Rotation