The Band: Listenlisten
The Buzz: Finally, a band name we can believe in! Mysterious and borderline un-Googleable Houston collective proves expert at putting the ghosts back into Goth-folk. Their upcoming full-length, Hymns from Rhodesia, is a spellbinding collection of country-gospel songs haunted by loneliness and loss. It's the kind of music cowboys might hear in the distance as they stagger dumbly to their doom. And because they use a bevy of instruments, piling on piano and trumpet and violin, Listenlisten manage to be a four-person group that sounds like a 12-person group.
Listen If: You've given up hope on that Neutral Milk Hotel reunion, or are looking for an even spookier version of Will Oldham.
Key Track: "Safe Home, Safe in Port," where a baleful trumpet clears the way for decidedly somber sentiments.
The Band: Ramona Falls
The Buzz: Brent Knopf of celebrated indie rockers Menomena branches out — a far cry from the organized chaos of his main gig, Ramona Falls make strange, small, spooky songs — zero-gravity compositions perfect for floating in space. Despite its lost, lonely sound, the project was collaborative, built from impromptu recording sessions with friends and acquaintances.
Listen If: You've got a lifelike NASA pod in your bedroom and are dying for the perfect soundtrack.
Key Track: The tense, terrific "Russia," where Knopf's high, hazy voice floats lazily over a tight acoustic strum like an astronaut cut loose from his shuttle.
The Band: Neon Indian
The Buzz: A collaboration between Alan Polomo and visual artist Alicia Scardetta, Neon Indian gained early buzz by successfully keeping their identities a well-guarded secret. Over time they were outed, but that didn't quell the hype. A seamless integration of Palomo's heavy-lidded junk-fi techno and Scardetta's trippy visuals, Neon Indian are perfecting a kind of dance music for the lazy. One of their songs is called "Terminally Chill," which actually describes their sound perfectly.
Listen If: You know, you're terminally chill.
Key Track: Blog breakout "Deadbeat Summer," a 900-ton piece of electropop that's fantastically sluggish — the sound of dance music doused with cough syrup and fronted by a guy who sings as if he's distracted by the television.