Lets face it: It is nearly impossible to find small-label music in any big-name record stores. In the words of Reel Big Fish, “radio plays what they want you hear, tell me its cool, I just don’t believe it.” That is why Artsweek is taking it upon itself to introduce some bands that are talented and underrepresented.

When the name Wilco appears, many people instantly recognize the band led by front man Jeff Tweedy. However, Wilco has recorded music with Billy Bragg, a singer/songwriter from England, who is known for his poetic lyrics and his less-than-perfect voice that resembles that of a British Bob Dylan. Bragg and Wilco’s combination came about when Bragg was approached by Nora Guthrie, daughter of American folk legend Woody Guthrie, to record some of Guthrie’s lyrics with music. The result was Mermaid Avenue, an album that was created in collaboration with Wilco and some help from Natalie Merchant. The album includes obvious influences from Wilco with Nels Cline’s manipulation and experimentation of sound. For those that enjoy the music of Wilco, the album contains that same laid-back sound with interesting contributions by Bragg and Merchant. Mermaid Avenue and Mermaid Avenue Vol. II can be found on Amazon.com.

An additional artist that is underrepresented in the larger picture that is the music industry is Final Fantasy. Immediately many think of the role-playing game that includes mythical characters and dragons and such. However, Final Fantasy is a tribute band to the game. Created by Owen Pallett as a side project, Pallett has released two full-length albums and a few singles including a cover of Joanna Newsom’s “Peach Plum Pear.” Pallett, better known for his contributions in both performing and co-writing Arcade Fire’s string parts, is an extremely talented performer. While his albums, He Poos Clouds, which won the 2006 Polaris prize for Best Canadian Artist, and Has A Good Home, are both outstanding, it is in live performances that his music really thrives. For the most part, Pallett is a solo performer: just himself, his violin, and a looping pedal. Pallett comes with nothing prerecorded; one actually gets to see the music put together step by step. Pallett’s work is unique and worth checking out on youtube.com, where his live performances can be seen, or on his label’s website tomlab.com.

Coachella is quickly approaching, and while the emphasis and goal of Coachella is to host big band names – such as the reuniting of Rage Against the Machine – it is also there to introduce smaller bands that are on the rise. Tokyo Police Club, an indie rock band from Newmarket, Ontario, is quickly gaining popularity in Canada and in the U.S. Although they have nothing to do with Tokyo nor are they a policing unit, they are capable of producing some fantastic music. Tokyo Police Club’s EP A Lesson in Crime is little over sixteen minutes long but quickly gets one into a frenzy. The album begins quickly with “Cheer It On” with David Monks, vocalist and bassist, screaming, “Operator, get me the president of the world – this is an emergency.” Tokyo Police Club is currently touring the States and is due to play Coachella April 27 along with many other bands.