RIYL Mixtapes: Because sometimes the best way to get to know a new artist is to use them in a sentence.

Chances are that if you owned a television or went to the movies in 2010 you know of Florence + The Machine.  Songs from her debut album Lungs have been used in trailers for Eat, Pray, Love, on TV in ABC Family’s Wild Child, Saving Grace, The Vampire Diaries, Grey’s Anatomy, V, So You Think You Can Dance, Covert Affairs, Glee, and on the big screen in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Jennifer’s Body.  Dizzee Rascal and The xx have remixed her tunes.  She performed all over the place, including Coachella 2010, Glastonbury 2010, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night with David Letterman, the MTV Music Video Awards 2010, and the 2010 Brit Awards among many other venues.

In other words there was no way to miss the London native.  

Still not sure if you recognize her work?

This post, however, is not all about Flo.  She’s gotten her due.  If you’re blown away by her steamroller of a voice and powerful melodies, here are four up and coming acts you need to check out now.

Marina & The Diamonds

Clearly people know about Marina and The Diamonds.  She’s signed to Atlantic Records and sold out the Troubadour in LA a few months ago.  She is playing Coachella 2011.  But why she isn’t enjoying the same omnipresence of Florence or even Best Coast is completely beyond me.  A Greek born and raised in Wales, Marina Lambrini Diamandis was releasing singles in the US as early as 2008, but her debut full-length, The Family Jewels, didn’t drop until February 2010.  Marina is indie world’s answer to Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj – couched in pop confections, her rich voice has an unbelievable and unexpected range.  Nor is she afraid to take risks with it (“Hermit The Frog”, or in her storytelling (“Hollywood.”)

Photo Credit: Veronika Moore

Zola Jesus

If a Zola Jesus track has been used in a film or television show, someone needs to alert me, because as far as I can tell nothing has yet and there MUST be a sex scene that one of her songs is appropriate for.  Fellow music supervisors of the world get on that.  In the meantime you can catch Arizona native, Nika Roza Danilova aka “Zola Jesus” at for FREE at SKYBAR on February 26th before she departs on a North American tour.  You should also check out the two EPs she released in 2010 – Stridulum and Valusia.  Just prepared to be literally blown away by her voice.  Enchanting, haunting, and terrifying all at once, Danilova’s voice drives each track slowly and deliberately to an earthy climax.  You won’t know what hit you until the unsettling feeling of being lost in a jungle creeps over you and…you need to get laid immediately.

Anna Calvi

Probably most equitable to Zola Jesus in terms of smoldering vocal quality, Anna Calvi is just bursting onto the US scene with her self-titled debut effort, released by Domino Recording Co just a week or two ago.  Backed by fantastic live reviews, props from Brian Eno and an invitation by Nick Cave to tour with Grinderman – this Brit is poised to become the “next big thing.” And it’s no wonder – every track on her album is infused with deep, dark emotion, like stepping into a romantic black and white melodrama.

Lookbook

As of this past September this Minneapolis, MN duo is no more – but Lookbook’s first (and now only) full-length Wild at Heart is so lush and powerful I still have to give them props.  They created an 80’s dance pop record, but with sinister undertones.  There’s something slightly, wonderfully off about Grant Cutler’s jaunty web of guitar and electronic beats.  There is nothing off, however, about Maggie Morrison’s vocals.  She starts each song sweet and sultry and then rips right in, tearing each verse apart with a killer belt or two.  You may even see them on Tadpole Audio again, should I ever do a RIYL Mixtape for Blondie fans.

When Women Become Animals

Anna Calvi “Desire”

Zola Jesus “Night”

Florence + The Machine “Howl”

Marina & The Diamonds “Guilty”

Lookbook “Yesterday’s Company”