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22 Orlando bands you should keep an eye (and ear) out for in 2017 

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click to enlarge PHOTO BY DARIN BACK
  • Photo by Darin Back

Laney Jones & the Spirits

Between professional music licensing work in Nashville and touring and writing for her budding band, Mount Dora's pride Laney Jones has made the official jump to being a full-time working musician. Now, with the spring release of her latest self-titled album, she's made a powerful, more prismatic pivot that thrusts her out of the folk niche. Showing aptitude for pop, soul and indie, it's the document of a naturally gifted artist who's only now beginning to really speak up. And because it positions her for practically anything she wants to chase next, Laney Jones' trajectory will be one to watch. – BLH

click to enlarge PHOTO BY SIERRA REESE
  • Photo by Sierra Reese

Howling Midnight

This year, Howling Midnight has leapt from seemingly total obscurity to emerge as perhaps the most promising and sonically complete two-piece band in the area. Their burly, hard-driving blues-rock has a thrillingly raw economy that's the hallmark of all guitar-and-drum duos, but possesses a full live kick that few others have. They went from being an outlier to entering the cabal of the city's most prominent rock duos alongside acts like Copper Bones and Yogurt Smoothness, giving Orlando's two-piece scene a needed shot in the arm. Howling Midnight are currently in the process of recording some new songs and hoping to release an EP early next year. But since they're now popping up regularly on notable bills with some of the area's best rock bands, they'll be easier to notice. And notice you should. – BLH

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E-Turn

As the verbal force in the double-barrel dream team of E-Turn & SPS, she exploded onto the Orlando hip-hop scene several years ago as one of the 407's most fire-breathing and original MCs. Now, sister's doing it for herself. In solo mode, she's ready to fully summon all the exponential powers of her loaded identity as a Middle Eastern woman in hip-hop. Consider how all those layers align with everything happening in the world today and it's clear that now is the time for a perspective like hers. Especially when it rides this much thunder. Though E-Turn's solo debut recording with local hip-hop godfather Swamburger isn't due out until spring, the Persian rapper has already secured a distribution deal with Fake Four, the respected and forward-thinking alt-rap label that's been home to exemplars like Ceschi, Astronautalis, Busdriver, Sadistik, Bleubird and Sole. Things are aligning for E-Turn and 2017 could be a breakout year. – BLH

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JIM LEATHERMAN
  • Photo by Jim Leatherman

Golden Pelicans

The true genius of Angus Young from AC/DC is that he looks like a soused wreck stumbling around and drooling in a schoolboy uniform, guitar by all appearances unplugged, yet in reality he's the disciplined guiding force of the band. It takes twice as much energy to appear this drunk and disorganized when in reality you're on target every. Single. Night. It's a lesson the Golden Pelicans have undoubtedly internalized. Every Pelicans show seems like it's going to collapse into chaos, and underneath the stagger and swagger is total focus. They're pushing it hard: touring, releasing new music, hosting fellow musical malcontents from all over. And they're getting attention far outside the confines of Orange County. Next up: a live 7-inch of their wildman punk roar released on Jack White's tastemaking Third Man label. They've wrapped their third LP, which should be out next spring, followed by another tour. – MM

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Sales

With enough online hype and presence to move the national needle, Sales are currently the most buzzing indie band to come out of Orlando. But that status was always conditional. For a long time, their skeletal stage presentation was just a wan rendition of the intimate magic of their music. That's unfortunate for a band with such lovely songs, doubly so for one that has bet on building its name on the road in the way Sales has. For as much as you wanted to root for the hometown heroes, they just weren't ready. But that all changed with the recent and crucial addition of a live drummer. At a packed show at the Social in October, they finally became the band they should and need to be. And, now, Sales are suddenly looking equal to their bright future, which includes a recently signed publishing deal with indie powerhouse Sub Pop. – BLH

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