Up-and-Coming Artists Encyclopedia

Crystal Fighters (Words: Collin Burger)
Origins: Navarra, Spain
Sounds Like: A Darude album co-produced by Phil Collins.
Terms like "Folktronica" and "Electro-Pop" certainly apply to their music, yet settling on one term cannot quite capture their essence. Ranging from carefree party-bangers to reflections on life and loneliness, their music always makes you want to get up and move, despite having serious themes at times.
Must-Listen Track: "Xtatic Truth" from Xtatic Truth (2009) Listen

Gallows (Words: Rebecca Warshofsky)
Origins: Watford, Hertfordshire, England
Sounds like: The band that you do NOT want to meet in a dark alleyway on a cold, rainy night. Most of their spare time is spent snacking on razor blades and small children. Their signature blend of Hardcore and Punk shows that they're raw, ruthless, and have nothing to lose.
Must-listen Track: "In the Belly of a Shark" from Orchestra of Wolves (2006) Listen

Girls (Words: Lisa Kessler)
Origins: San Francisco, CA
Sounds like: A summer night sharing a beer by the bonfire with Elvis Costello and the Beach Boys.
Must-listen track: "Lust for Life" from Album (2009) Listen

Maniac (Words: Lisa Kwon)
Origins: Two absolutely eccentric characters hailing from Oakland, CA and Australia. They are perhaps more familiar as members of The Matches and Something with Numbers.
Sounds Like: The resulting chaos when gypsies travel through time to put the Funk in all overused radio hits. It's strange yet so catchy.
Must-listen track: "You Belong With Me" (Taylor Swift cover)

Marina and the Diamonds (Words: Veronica Kawka)
Origins: London, England
Sounds like: Regina Spektor having afternoon tea with Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls
Must-listen track: "Hollywood" from Family Jewels (2010)

The Menzingers (Words: Kristen Swanson)
Origins: Scranton, PA
Sounds like: Shakespeare wrote lyrics for a Punk band whose intense music will make you scream along with passion.
Must-listen track: "They Speak of My Drinking, But Never of My Thirst" from Hold On, Dodge! (2009) Listen

The Middle East (Words: Alex Reyes-Morales)
Origins: Queensland, Australia
Sounds Like: Simultaneously joyful and melancholic Indie-Folk in the vein of Fleet Foxes that utilizes a variety of instruments. Beautiful doesn't even come close to describing their music.
Must Listen Track: "Blood" from The Recordings of The Middle East (2009) Listen

MNDR (Words: Garrett Nickerson)
Origins: North Dakota and California
Sounds like: Lady Gaga without any real instruments or producers
Must-listen track: "Fade to Black" from E.P.E. (2009)

Obscura (Words: Dan Curhan)
Origins: Munich, Germany
Sounds Like: Technical perfection getting into an altercation with Arsis, The Faceless, and a nebula
Must Listen Track: "Universe Momentum" from Cosmogenesis (2009) Listen

Skagos (Words: Alex Reyes-Morales)
Origins: British Columbia, Canada
Sounds Like: Post-Black Metal in the vein of Wolves in the Throne Room and early Ulver with dazzling folk passages
Must Listen Track: "A Night That Ends, As All Nights End, When the Sun Rises" from Ast (2009)

Sleigh Bells (Words: Rebecca Chen)
Origin: Brooklyn, NY
Sounds Like: Meg & Dia on drugs, at 100 times the volume and tempo
Must-Listen Track: "Crown on the Ground"

Speech Debelle (Words: Elyssa Goodman)
Origins: London, England
Sounds Like: The Cockney love child of Lily Allen and Lauryn Hill
Must-Listen Track: "Go Then, Bye" from Speech Therapy (2009) Listen

Steve Moakler (Words: Jing Jing Li)
Origins: Pittsburgh, PA
Sounds like: Matt Nathanson and The Script smushed into one person
Must-listen track: "All the Faint Lights" from All the Faint Lights (2009)

V.V. Brown (Words: J. Eliot DeGolia) Origins: Northampton, UK of Caribbean heritage.
Sounds like: Amy Winehouse + Kate Nash + Aretha Franklin (UK soul/R&B, indie pop, neo-Motown)
Must-listen track: "Everybody" from Travelling Like the Light (2009) Listen

Yes Giantess (Words: Jenny Chang)
Origins: Boston, MA
Sounds like: Iglu & Hartly/Hockey/Passion Pit-inspired Alterative Punk with fresh twists on the old traditions of '70s Techno and '80s synths
Must-listen tracks: "The Ruins," "You Were Young"

Zola Jesus (Words: Nick Rock)
Origins: UW-Madison, WI
Sounds like: A ghost from the '80s who died at the hands of the man she loved
Must-listen track: "I Can't Stand" from Stridulum EP (2010) Listen