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With the vast net of media—radio, television, magazines, newspapers, and everything from yesterday’s webrings to today’s music blogs on the Internet—cast out over the cultural landscape, it’s hard to imagine that any musical act who was even marginally trying could truly pass “under the radar”. But the fact remains that the critical eye (or ear) can only take in so much, and while much of the media is focused in one direction, plenty of other noteworthy acts pass us by.

In order to highlight some of the musicians currently honing their craft and quietly building a reputation for quality on the fringes of the spotlight, PopMatters brings you an updated and serialized “Now Hear This!”. Previous installments of the formerly annual feature caught some of the bright young stars just before everyone else caught on to them—the Darkness, Goapele, Saturday Looks Good to Me, Joanna Newsom, Richard Buckner. Here, re-launched as a regularly recurring music feature, “Now Hear This!” promises to continue to feature artists who, for one reason or another, have yet to stake their claim as major media players, but are no less worthy of attention.

Make no mistake, however. “Now Hear This!” isn’t out to predict the next “it” band or artist. Instead, its purpose is to provide a featured space for performers who deserve a closer look. These are acts worth paying attention to because they’re fun, engaging, exciting, and plain old interesting. Some may be fresh new faces on the scene, others might have toiled in obscurity for years, and whether or not they become superstars is beside the point. In all cases, these are merely artists that the PopMatters staff feels should not go overlooked. So listen up!

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Now Hear This! Selections

+ The Gentlemen, Boston [19 April 2005]

Patrick Schabe is an editor, writer, graphic designer, freelance copyeditor, and digital content manager, depending on the time of day. He has also worked in a gas station, at a smoothie bar, as a low-level accountant, taught college courses online, and cleaned offices, so he considers his current employment a success. Under his unassumed identity, Patrick holds a BA in English -- Creative Writing from Metropolitan State College of Denver and a Master of Social Science with an emphasis in Popular Culture Studies from the University of Colorado. He's currently at work on a first novel and a non-fiction piece on cultural theory. Patrick lives in Littleton, Colorado, with his wife, Jessica, who makes everything worthwhile.

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