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Coachella: Ann Powers' top nine picks

April 9, 2009 | 12:23 pm

Pop & Hiss will be covering the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., from April 17 to 19. There are more than 120 acts on the bill, but in the days leading up to the fest, we'll be selecting some of the best bets -- some on the radar, some flying below. In this Sunday's Calendar (April 12), chief pop critic Ann Powers highlights nine must-see acts.

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Every music fan who joins the caravan to Coachella has a personal plan for the ideal immersion. Some are focused, holding a spot near a particular stage for hours, awaiting a beloved artist. Others go ambient, wandering wherever old or new friends lead them, leaping toward whatever half-heard sound throws a hook around an ear.

Then there are the most hopeful Coachella-goers, who seek something extremely elusive: the unparalleled musical set. Perhaps you are one of them: a true believer, hoping for a weekend, or at least a set or two, that will change your life, on whatever small level.

Focusing on headliners is one way to get that rush -- certainly, Paul McCartney's desert debut will be memorable -- and the almost-headliner slots, packed with legends like Leonard Cohen and zeitgeist rulers like M.I.A., can provide it too. But sometimes the best way to access surprise and delight at Coachella is to try something you've never heard before.

Here are some artists in the great big middle of the bill at the Empire Polo Field the weekend of April 17; some come equipped with critical buzz, a strong fan base or a few years under their belts. Each has a good chance of becoming the most talked-about artist of the weekend -- or maybe just your favorite.

Click here for day-by-day picks.

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Photo: Ida Maria. Credit: Nancy Pastor / For the Times

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