In this series, we are spotlighting some of the most intriguing acts performing at the First City Festival. This time around, we shine the light on Cults and Sleepy Sun. The festival runs Aug. 23-24 at the Monterey County Fair and Event Center. For more information, visit www.firstcityfestival.com.

***

Cults: This New York City-based indie-pop duo, consisting of vocalist Madeline Follin and guitarist Brian Oblivion, strikes just the right balance between retro hip and contemporary cool. Its music is rooted in Phil Spector's 1960s Wall of Sound, but the overall feel is far more "now" than "nostalgia." The group is best known for the song "Go Outside," which Microsoft borrowed for its TV campaign for the Windows phone. Yet that's just one of many fine tunes to be found in this duo's catalog.

(Appearing on Aug. 24)

***

Sleepy Sun: The Santa Cruz band continues to impress, especially in regard to finding ways to translate its live show to the studio. Its latest album, "Maui Tears," is a powerful collection of tuneful neo-psychedelia rock songs. It stands as Sleepy Sun's finest hour -- at least to this point in time. This band clearly has the potential to someday create something even grander.

(Appearing Aug. 24)

***

Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic and www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews.



Advertisement