1. Prata Vetra, "Lantern"
Impressionistic lyrics, post-rock guitars, skateboarding high fives, and some serious indie falsetto. Prata Vetra finished third in the 2000 Eurovision competition. Their name is Latvian for "Brainstorm," and three of their most popular singles are named "Gardener," "Oranges," and "Airplanes." They have an album with a Latvian title that translates to "The Kitten Who Didn't Want to Give Up." They once opened for the Rolling Stones in Prague, and gifted Mick Jagger a saxophone for his birthday. They are big in the U.K. as part of the "world-indie" boom that helped the band Beirut achieve some crossover success there.
Best YouTube Comment: "LATVIA I LOVE YOU" — The Es4a
2. Audience Killers, "The Runaway Kite"
Ben Gibbard vibes out the yin-yang. Audience Killers make indie pop in a smoothed-down Sarah Records style. Reminiscent of the soft sunlight twee rock that was bigger a few years back before the electronic music tsunami ate everything in sight. This is the single from their debut EP, Footprints and Hearts.
Best YouTube Comment: "True that ... " — poolpartymusic
3. Dzelzs Vilks, "Aizliegumi Likumi"
Chill alternative pop rock with a NSFW video. Remember all those '90s songs with spoken-word verses? Dzelzs Vilks clearly do. Video director Andris Gauja has a background in documentary filmmaking and has a keen eye for Baltic absurdity in all its high/low rural snowy glory. This tale of a failed funeral is riveting and weirdly fashion-forward. Somebody please give him the cash to make a feature film.
Best YouTube Comment: "boobs on youtube!!! mmmm" — verylowiq
4. The WoW, "Say It"
Bouncy pop with Moog squiggles aiding its desperate aspiration to funkiness.
Best YouTube Comment: "If you can't say it first, then you don't deserve to hear such words woman" — shiodi
5. Martins Ruskis, "Mes Nepagursim"
Just some fist-pumping pop rock with a Huey Lewis sound.
Best YouTube Comment: "labs" — 21vikija
6. Antra Stafecka, "Vetra Nak"
Antra Stafecka is the reigning rock ballad queen of Latvia. She can wail. She both looks and sounds a little bit like Pat Benatar.
Best YouTube Comment: "You are talented young lady!" — SuzanneWide
7. Astro'n'out, "Tulit"
Astro'n'out are an indie rock band with a dreamy sound and Shibuya-kei '60s affectations. Lead singer and guitarist Mara Upmane-Holsteina has a Chrissie Hynde roughness to her voice. Perfect for fans of Belle & Sebastian and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I'll rep this!
Best YouTube Comment: "Superiga!" — LeTigerGirl
8. Reggaer, "Vlyublion"
I could not for the life of me find this song (a Google search claimed it doesn't exist), so please enjoy in its place this video of Gregory Isaacs performing "Night Nurse" live at Reggae Sunsplash 1983 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, while speculating about what Latvian reggae might sound like.
Grade: N/A, but "Night Nurse" by Gregory Isaacs gets an A+
Best YouTube Comment: "I NEED A NIGHT NURSE" — koob14
9. Prata Vetra, "Ko Tu Doma"
Another Prata Vetra song, with sort of a ska influence? You can learn more about the fascinating Baltic indie rock scene on this awesome website called The Baltic Scene, run by a couple of Latvians and two Estonians. They cover the Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian music scenes in depth and will help you fill your summer playlists up with Baltic gems.
Best YouTube Comment: "IDEALA" — cherrsty
10. Gacho, "Stampa Gridu"
Gacho is a Latvian rapper. This is incredible, and the chorus doesn't even kick in for three and a half minutes. Gacho will be signed to Mad Decent by next week.
Best YouTube Comment: "Reals muzons! ;)" — aazis20000