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Arum Rae has flirted with country music -- a song she co-wrote with John Paul White of the Civil Wars found its way into the TV show "Nashville" -- but on "If I Didn't Know Better," she fully embraces electronic sounds yet never turns her back on ethereal, emotional soul.

The cinematic, world-folk ensemble Black Prairie (featuring members of the Decemberists and Bearfoot, for starters) stretches out into indie-pop territory on the bouncing, catchy, accordion-laced "Let It Out."

A sub-three-minute blast of hard riffs and organ-drenched rock 'n' roll, "Don't You Call on Me," by Glagow, Scotland's Chris Devotion & the Expectations, might be a little messy but it doesn't mess around.

With folk sensibilities (and sensitivities) and a rock 'n' roll kick (and a bit of chaos), New York's 5j Barrow pushes (and then tears up) the envelope on dynamics and emotional release on the new track "Talking My Soul."

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes a song appears, as if from nowhere and everywhere, as if you've always known it though you've never heard it before. Such is Dawn Landes' gorgeous, wise "Cry No More," a farewell to sadness, a country-folk hymn for brighter days that always appear in time.

Led by singer and songwriter Mike Fiore, the Boston-based group Faces on Film builds personal, cinematic rock songs, which are yet much more than home movies. "The Rule" has plush, surprising textures and a thumping pulse, part heartbeat on a sleepless night, part emotional, even yearning drive.

Portland, Ore.'s Paradise doesn't just embrace the classic, '60s garage-rock sound; on "Born and Bound," the band grabs it by the throat and shakes loose all the economic and emotional desperation lurking beneath the messy surface.

The smoothest soul and funk outfit in Nashville, Tenn., DeRobert & the Half-Truths returned with the album "I'm Trying" earlier this year. As evidenced by the track "The Dole, Pt. 2," the band is laying down some of the most finely textured and socially conscious music on the soul-revival scene.

KDHX DJs Chris Bay and Nick Acquisto discuss some of their favorite musical performances and discoveries from last two days of the annual South by Southwest music conference and festival.

KDHX DJs Chris Bay and Nick Acquisto discuss some of their favorite musical performances and discoveries from the first two days of the annual South by Southwest music conference and festival.

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