N.A.S.A.

This duo are poised to be the breakout rap all-stars of 2009, as their debut The Spirit of Apollo livens up standard American hip hop with Brazilian funk elements (their name stands for North America/South America). But the most appealing aspect of N.A.S.A. is the astounding list of guest stars, which includes Kanye West, Santogold, and Lykke Li (all on the same track!). It’s been confirmed that Tom Waits lends his gravelly crooning to a track called “Spacious Thoughts,” giving The Spirit of Apollo the kind of advance buzz that only comes from legendary cameos.

Florence and the Machine

Twenty-two-year-old Florence Welch is a south London native who walks the line between howling anthems and delicate art-pop, a disparity that will make her 2009’s model for eccentric sound and style. While she’s only released a handful of singles thus far, her debut album is due in May from Island Records. If we had to select a new tortured British starlet to make up for the loss of Amy Winehouse to her superhuman drug addiction, Florence would be our candidate. Just keep her away from Pete Doherty!

The Knux

On their birth certificates, The Knux’s Rah Almillio and Krispy Kream are officially listed as brothers Alvin and Kintrell Lindsey, who grew up playing all sorts of instruments that they eventually worked into this multi-faceted project. The boys ditched their hometown of New Orleans after Katrina and headed to Los Angeles, where they completed their debut album Remind Me In Three Days, which eschews the superglossy sound of modern day hip hop. The Knux’s raw, crunchy guitar riffs allow them to get away with comparing themselves to The Strokes. They spent the end of 2008 opening up for Q-Tip on his North American tour, and the new year promises even bigger returns.

Magistrates

The latest product of the world’s premier indie tastemakers, UK label XL Recordings, Essex’s Magistrates are hard at work on what seems destined to be a star-making debut album. Combining indie-funk grooves with soulful, falsetto vocal turns, Magistrates will fill the void left by the swift demise of the nu-rave craze. Plus, it’s always an encouraging sign when a band’s MySpace bio sounds less like an endorsement and more like a warning, claiming that the five boys in Magistrates “are constructing a masterplan…to infect the world with a dirty groove like some out of control STD.” Dance floors everywhere, beware.

Land Of Talk

The newest member of Broken Social Scene (but let’s not hold it against her), Montréal’s Liz Powell croons love songs amongst a crackling indie rock landscape that recalls Bonnie Raitt covering Dinosaur Jr. Though 2008 saw the highly acclaimed full length Some Are Lakes (produced by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon) signed to Saddle Creek, this year expect Land Of Talk to tour the West Coast, garner even more glowing reception from Land-lovers SPIN and Rolling Stone, bottle up, and explode.

Teen Anger

Picking up where bands like Anagram and the Deadly Snakes left off, Toronto’s Teen Anger revives garage rock with classic whiplash guitars and lackadaisical laments on being young, bored, and working for minimum wage. Self-described as “three guys, a girl, and an alcohol addiction,” June’s LP release Banned From Beaver portrays a riotous punk energy augmented by car crash melodies. But don’t miss them live—while Shakespeare might wonder what’s in a name, the band ain’t called Teen Anger for nothing.

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