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I wrote a review of this delightful Estonian music festival for Beach Tomato. 

A music festival hosted by a seaside medieval city in the snow? Yes please. Laura Foster heads to Estonia for Tallinn Music Week.

Tip-toeing across the dazzling white Baltic Sea – this isn’t what you’d expect for March, even in Tallinn. Spring may have well and truly sprung in the UK, but someone had forgotten to tell the weather gods over in Estonia – this place was blanketed with the white stuff.

A city of juxtapositions: Tallinn’s Soviet-era concrete sits next to its cute cobbled streets. Heading to pretty Pirita Beach to blow off the cobwebs (err hangover), with snow still on the ground this summer hangout was a frosty winter wilderness.

This being the Baltic, the best time to hit the beach sans snow is June through August. Summer daylight here is loooong – a whopping 19 hours for sunny seaside vibes. And when it warms up, Pirita’s open bay is dotted with windsurfers and the yacht crowd. But before taking the plunge remember the blue stuff here doesn’t heat up to much above 12 degrees. Chilly.

20 minutes west of the city is the sweeping Stroome Beach connected by beach path to Kakumäe. Do as the locals and skate between the two. For warmer water pack your beach bag and head to Harku Lake – it’s a small shingle beach loved by locals in the know.

But back to the real reason for a trip to Tallinn, mixing two of our favourite things – beaches and music – Tallinn Music Week is the highlight of the Estonian capital’s jam-packed music calendar. A hefty portion of the industry had de-camped from South by Southwest in sunny ol’ Texas and spent the weekend dashing between gigs swilling Saku beer and dancing til the early hours.

So here’s our, albeit slightly blurry, heads-up for the ones to watch from the weekend…

For broken-hearted country fans: Devon Sproule
Hailing from Canada, the honey voiced Devon Sproule spellbound the crowd with her quirky tales and charm. Sporting a colourful bandana and fabulous country drawl, her performance – backed by three bandmates – was perfectly pitched. Check her out when she comes to the UK in May.

For the next Robyn-style pop starlet: Iiris
Iiris has all the ingredients to leap out of her native base and onto the international scene. She’s cute as a button, has a fab voice and distinctive fashion sense, and is certainly comfortable onstage. What she currently lacks are strong enough songs, but give her a year or two and we think she could be on form to stir up a storm.

For electronica fans with an organic twist: Mujuice
Mujuice wrapped up the weekend in style, knob-twiddling to the party hungry crowd. This Russian DJ has been tipped by top music bible Pitchfork, and we can see why. He throws out a myriad of glitchy samples – looped twinkly xylophones and computer game sounds shimmer over dirty electro beats and deep bass lines. It was enough to set us off dancing until 6am. Well, that and the Estonian vodka. Oops.

For fun-tastic dancing to indie tunes with a surf twist: French Films
A buzz band of the weekend, most of the tastemakers made it down to check out French Films. Riding the crest of the wave of the latest surf bands, this Finnish quintet are all ‘80s indie pop mixed with west coast sounds. A lot of fun, especially their highlight song ‘Golden Sea’.

For campfire-style acoustic sing-alongs: Alan McKim
Alan’s passionate delivery certainly made an impression on the crowd present for his solo acoustic performance. Even the president of Estonia proclaimed he was a fan. The winner of this year’s Best Acoustic Artist at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards stomped and howled through his set, reminding me of Ben Harper and even a little bit of Josh Rouse at times.

For some anthemic rock: Aides
This Estonian trio look fresh from nursery, but their musical abilities belie their age. Starting with a dreamy intro, they soon segue into prog and funk, before settling into an Incubus-alike rock sound. The frontman even sounds like Brandon Boyd. They’re a bit too magpie-esque in their sound borrowing right now, but give them time and they’ll settle into their own groove.

To see the full article on Beach Tomato, click here

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