Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
Alabama Shakes has already achieved a feat in choosing a band name that is both geographically and musically apt — the notion of music so raw it gives you the shakes well suits the Southern blues rock crafted by these Alabama natives on their debut LP. Lead singer Brittany Howard communicates some unfiltered pain in a voice that, at times, sounds mesmerizingly androgynous.
Alex Winston – King Con
Alex Winston is perhaps best known as that girl whose debut hit single portrays petty competition among Mormon wives. She even had a cat vomit blood in her video and people still couldn’t get enough of her, so the classically trained pop singer must be doing something right. At the very least, she’s bringing back into style the impossibly high-pitched voice that’s been fairly absent from top 40 charts since the reign of British art rocker Kate Bush in the ‘80s.
Bassnectar – Vava Voom
Since producing everyone’s favorite Ellie Goulding remix didn’t seem to be enough for the prolific lord of the dubstep, Bassnectar is releasing his second album in less than a year. With a lead single featuring Lupe Fiasco and a tour that’s already sold out a third of its stops, the San Jose native looks primed for another successful year of vibrating walls and artfully distorting voices nationwide.
M. Ward – A Wasteland Companion
Look, he’s not just that dude who sings alongside Zooey Deschanel! In addition to generating collaborations with acts like Cat Power, Bright Eyes, Neko Case and My Morning Jacket, M. Ward’s singer-songwriter chops have also made him the perfect candidate for every pensive mixtape put together on the West Coast over the last 10 years. When it comes to his solo stuff, think less whimsy than the She & Him business, more nuts-and-bolts guitar.
Moka Only & Ayatollah – Bridges
Once upon a time, a producer from Queens named for an Islamic spiritual leader met a dreadlocked rapper from British Columbia. The spawn of this unusual collaboration, Bridges promises to mesh the best of Ayatollah’s distinctly East Coast sound (which has previously showcased rappers like Mos Def and Ghostface Killah) with the easy rhymes of Moka Only, who somehow has put out approximately a bajillion albums since 1995.