Sleigh Bells
This duo may be on the edge of inventing a brand new genre. For now, we’ll call it dance-tortion. A singer named Alexis sings pretty pop melodies and hops around the stage while a guitarist named Derek plays distorted leads against beats so bottom-heavy that it’s impossible not to move your feet, literally.


Even if the bass didn’t shake your shoes off the floor, you’d want to bounce to these tunes. While the band is currently in the studio, get over to their MySpace and brace your speakers for a brand new sound.


Surfer Blood
“I’m too young to be defeated,” sings J.P. Pitts on Surfer Blood’s Twin Peaks.
This line is an apt representation of what makes this Floridian five-piece so special. They play with an exuberance usually reserved for people who don’t know how to play their instruments yet. But the harmonic intricacies within their songs clearly demonstrate that they do.


“Every reporter in the world can’t help but draw attention to how young we look,” says Pitts, who is 23. “Youth is definitely a theme in the record, and being young and watching yourself get older and having that be troubling and exciting at the same time.” Their debut, Astro Coast, was released recently.


The Soft Pack
In the geographical space between the Arctic Monkeys and the Monkees is where you might find this San Diego band.

Singer Matt Lamkin sounds like Ray Davies at times, and the band behind him plays classic short-haired rock ‘n’ roll, resulting in songs that you might think you first heard on a Nuggets box-set if you didn’t know they were brand new.

“We listen to some of that garage stuff,” says Lamkin, in the same breath he name checks Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii. For such varied influences, their debut, which was released Feb. 2, achieves its consistency through its beach party energy.

Jay Electronica
When MCs as varied as Jay-Z, Nas, Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Diddy are giving you the thumbs up it would be easy to get a big head.

No one could blame New Orleans rapper/producer Jay Electronica if he did. With one of the few “underground” hip-hop records (Exhibit C) that’s seeing any daytime airplay and a highly respected lyrical approach, a lot of people are counting him as the “next big thing.”

Having already contributed tracks to Nas and Diddy’s latest albums, it won’t be long before everyone will know just exactly who he is.