The Band: Tempo No Tempo
The Buzz: A nervy, worked-up band from San Francisco, Tempo No Tempo have been kicking around for nearly four years now, getting steadily better while remaining stubbornly under the radar. Their latest EP should change all that: blending hurtling dance rhythms with jabbing, elbowing post-punk guitars, the group takes a literal approach to the notion of "panic at the disco."
Listen If: Dancing stresses you out a little, and you want your music to reflect that anxiety.
Key Track: The terrifically severe "Kilometer," where the clanging guitars feel like a starting bell, setting the song's tense quiver in motion. Vocalist Tyler McCauley coos, "I could never wait for you," and it's true — no sooner does are the words out of his mouth than he vanishes, leaving us dead in the middle of a guitar solo that whips around as wildly as a cut power line.
The Band: Dragonette
The Buzz: Dragonette began as a duo called the Fuzz, consisting of guitarist Dan Kurtz and vocalist Martina Sorbara. Fortunately, that name didn't last — after a few rounds of reinvention, the group turned into a day-glo dance-pop wonder. Their tastes are voracious — they may skew electronic, but the thumping "Gone Too Far" is built around a banjo loop, and Sorbara cites Rickie Lee Jones and Joan Armantrading as inspirations.
Listen If: Your favorite artists of the last few years were Lykke Li and Ladyhawke, and you're looking to complete your holy trilogy of perfectly pouty pop.
Key Track: "Pick Up the Phone," the kind of bright, charming pop song Cyndi Lauper would have killed for in the 80s. Few artists get the concept of the "bridge" right anymore, but the build to the chorus is tense and heavenly, so that when arrives, it's as liberating as a great gospel song.
The Band: Sleigh Bells
The Buzz: Brooklyn duo of Derek Miller (ex-Poison the Well) and Alexis Krauss make awesomely impolite dance music, raising a stiff middle finger to fidelity and instead choosing to run all of their tracks in the red — overdriven, overamped, over distorted. In other words: perfect.
Listen If: You want your music to come with its own busted subwoofer.
Key Track: The irresistible "Crown on the Ground," where Krauss coos out a clipped melody in jump rope cadence over blown-out blasts of synths that whallop like a bag of bricks. One things for sure, when Krauss says "Set, set that crown on the ground," you'd better listen.