Ra Ra Riot Upstate New York-based alt-rock ensemble Ra Ra Riot, founded in 2006, is comprised of Milo Bonacci (guitar), Alexandra Lawn (cello, vocals), Wesley Miles (keys, vocals), Gabriel Duquette (drums), Mathieu Santos (bass), and Rebecca Zeller (violin). The late John Pike (drums, vocals) co-wrote much of the group's 2007 debut release. Collaborations/shared stages include Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie), Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend), The Editors, and legendary New Wave unit Bow Wow Wow. With five releases to date, get "Winter '05," from Ra Ra Riot's 2008 project The Rhumb Line.
Buy: iTunes.com Genre: Alternative Artist: Ra Ra Riot Song: Winter '05 Album: The Rhumb Line
Ólöf Arnalds Icelandic multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Ólöf Arnalds was born in the Reagan era. By the age of 8, she picked up the violin and classical singing and never put them down, studying music through grad school at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. After some finger-bleeding, Arnalds took off with indie-rock ensemble múm in 2003. Three years later, she recorded her solo debut with Kjartan Sveinsson (Sigur Rós) at the helm, earning Record of the Year in Iceland. Her sophomore set, also produced by Sveinsson, is set for release this year. Download "Náttsöngur," from Arnalds's Við og Við.
Buy: iTunes.com Genre: Singer/Songwriter Artist: Ólöf Arnalds Song: Náttsöngur Album: Við og Við
Classical violinist Sarah Chang was born in Philadelphia of Korean descent. At age 8, she played for maestros Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti, leading to her affiliation with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Juilliard. Collaborations include Pinchas Zukerman, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yefim Bronfman, Martha Argerich, Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, Lars Vogt, and Isaac Stern. Among her accolades are a chair in Yale's Sprague Hall (2005), the Hollywood Bowl's Hall of Fame Award (youngest recipient ever), Korea's Nan Pa Award, and the Avery Fisher Prize (1999). Download "Me'lodie," by Christoph Willibald Gluck, from Chang's 1999 release Sweet Sorrow.
Laura Marling was born in Southeast England in 1990, with old-soul musical wisdom. At the age of 3, she became enrapt with the guitar and has been performing ever since. Twice nominated for England's Mercury Music Prize, Marling is a former member of Noah and The Whale. Collaborations/shared stages include Mystery Jets, The Rakes, Adam Green (Moldy Peaches), and Jamie T. With two full-lengths and a near dozen releases to collect, discover "Devil's Spoke," from Marling's divine 2010 release I Speak Because I Can.
Buy: iTunes.com Genre: Singer/Songwriter Artist: Laura Marling Song: Devil's Spoke Album: I Speak Because I Can
Beirut Beirut is the indie-rock ensemble founded in the mid-aughts by New Mexico import Zach Condon (multi-instrumentalist, songwriter). Musical chairs include Nicholas Petree (drummer), Perrin Cloutier (accordion), Jason Poranski (guitar, mandolin), Paul Collins of Soft Landing (guitar), Jon Natchez (baritone sax, clarinet, glockenspiel, ukulele, mandolin), Kristin Ferebee (violin), Kelly and Tracy Pratt of Arcade Fire (trumpet, flugelhorn), and Heather Trost of A Hawk and a Hacksaw (violin, viola). Shared stages/collaborations include Grizzly Bear, The New Pornographers, and The Jimenez Band. With a handful of releases to date, start with the deliciously old-timey "La Llorona," from 2009's March of the Zapotec.
Buy: iTunes.com Genre: Alternative Artist: Beirut Song: La Llorona Album: March of the Zapotec
Muchuu United Kingdom's Muchuu is brother and sister act Milky and George. Milky sings and writes the lyrics, and George writes the melodies, rocks the computer, sings backup, and plays the keys. After issuing a couple of singles, they just released their first full length. Get "When I Am Brave," from Muchuu's 2010 debut Adventure We Go. It's groovy and whimsy filled.
Buy: iTunes.com Genre: Pop Artist: Muchuu Song: When I Am Brave Album: Adventure We Go