The Band: Jemina Pearl
The Buzz: Ex-lead vocalist of art punkers Be Your Own Pet, Pearl is now primed to give Paramore a run for their money. With a solo release on the Thurston Moore-run Ecstatic Peace label due this month (and an appearance with Moore on Gossip Girl last year), Pearl's harried, hooky punk combines the snap of yesteryear with a canny pop sheen.
Listen If: You have a soft spot for Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson, but also know who the X-Ray Spex are.
Key Track: The hyperactive heartbeats, where Pearl's bratty sneer opens with "It's not all the cocaine" and proceeds to describe the strange palpitations of a romantic crush over hotrodding guitars.
The Band: Cassius
The Buzz: French dance duo aim to make dance music dangerous again, tending toward blunt, aggressive rhythms, glitched-out electronics and the kind of split-second sound-samples that cause seizures in young children. A dizzying, headspinning sound that inspires the kind of dancing where you lead with swinging fists.
Listen If: You long for a second coming of Atari Teenage Riot, or fell in love with industrial music because it seemed violent and unseemly.
Key Track: The bleary shout-along "Youth, Speed, Trouble, Cigarettes," where the dangerous shouted refrain interrupts nasty, serrated sheets of synth and the kind of rhythms that pummel like cannonballs to the sternum.
The Band: Magic Kids
The Buzz: A group of teenagers from Memphis make a marvelous sound, grand, innocent pop music that pulls the best of early-'60s radio singles into a sweet, singable package. Seek out the adorable YouTube video of the Kids playing a toddler's birthday party. Maybe the first time in pop history a backstage rider called for birthday cake?
Listen If: You have ears. Seriously. This band is irresistible.
Key Track: The only one available at the moment, "Hey Boy," a pre-teenage symphony to god with back-to-the-beach harmonies and the kind of doo-wop rhythm that will have Phil Spector smiling from his prison cell.