Austra, "Beat and the Pulse"
Austra leader Katie Stelmanis set out to be an opera singer, but, lucky for us, she discovered rock her senior year of high school and traded in her Verdi arias for Nine Inch Nails albums. Her vocal training shows on Austra's debut single; moody synths blip and pulse while her rich, moody soprano soars over top. Dark and sinister, but dance-y at the same time, this is best music best enjoyed at basement clubs serving absinthe cocktails. ELLEN CARPENTER
Chikita Violenta, "Tired
Mexican foursome Chikita Violenta have been churning out infectious indie-rock for a few years now, but their latest album, Tres, is their first release stateside—and their best yet. We had the pleasure of catching them perform a raucous set of new songs on their home turf in Mexico City last week (I love my job!). With its schizo beats, doubled vocals, and boisterous guitars, "Tired" had us standing up on our seats, dancing along—but still careful not to spill our micheladas. ECThe Head and the Heart, "Cats and Dogs"
This Seattle six piece combines folksy melodies, earnest vocals, and layered instrumentals for a sound that's been compared to everyone from Fleet Foxes to Crosby Stills and Nash. However, their self-titled album is so diverse that between the country-tinged single "Sounds Like Hallelujah" to the fun, danceable "Cats and Dogs," these newcomers are almost impossible to classify...which is exactly the quality that we love the most. LIZA DARWINFriends, "Friend Crush"
How can you not like a band called Friends? Even though it's tempting to be sold on their name alone, this Brooklyn indie outfit makes music that's actually really good. They've infused their debut single, "Friend Crush" (out March 21) with African-inspired beats and funky rhythms. And judging by the title, these are lyrics that pretty much everyone can relate to- whether or not we'll admit it. LDMisty Miller, "Vampire"
Misty Miller is 16 years old, and plays Ukelele in her hometown of Wimbleton, England. I met her on the London subway (sorry, "Tube...") this weekend, and thought she was really lovely - fresh, easygoing, and totally cool about taking public transportation to the Burberry fashion show (where she was seated inches from Kate Bosworth). She's a normal girl, but her talent is remarkable, and everyone in London is betting she's the Next Big Thing. Check out why with this "love song for a vampire..."