WILLIS EARL BEAL
Who: An idiosyncratic, Chicago-based antifolk belter whose cassette-recorded debut, Acousmatic Sorcery, drops on April 3 via XL Recordings' new Hot Charity imprint. He's set to open some U.S. shows for new labelmate SBTRKT and is known for spreading flyers around town listing his phone number and singing a song for whoever calls.
File Next To: Abner Jay, Daniel Johnston, Mountain Goats, Jeffrey Lewis, Bright Eyes
Where to Start: Existential lo-fi head-clearing "Evening's Kiss," this fascinating Chicago Reader profile.
Who: A Brooklyn hip-hop trio of Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick Arch Elliott, who made the "Gucci Gucci" beat safe for Kreayshawn haters with a dismissive yet no less hedonistic freestyle last year. Lana Del Rey approves.
File Next To: Smiff-n-Wessun, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Ghostface Killah, Lil Wayne, Curren$y, Action Bronson
Where to Start: Weed-worshipping synth-rap posse cut "Thug Waffle."
Who: A Harlem-based 21-year-old rapper, whose new mixtape From Paris With Love, produced entirely by French beatmaker Myth Syzer, drops on February 28. With ties to A$AP Rocky and Young Money foot soldier Jae Millz, Perrion pulls you into the same Google-dazed post-chillwave Pandora's box opened by Clams Casino, and then he eloquently convinces you he owns the place.
File Next To: Fabolous, Lil B, A$AP Rocky, Spaceghost Purrp, Kendrick Lamar
Where to Start: From Paris With Love's multi-faceted statement of purpose "Everything," with silky '80s-zonked beats and a throaty contemplation from Jae Millz, who introduces the phrase "Groundhog Day grind."
Who: A guitar-and-drums duo of sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin, who used to be in Los Angeles art-punk band Mika Miko. On three 7"s singles released so far, Bleached loses that former group's riotous (grrrl) frenzy in a lulling haze of top-notch weed and topper-notch melodies.
File Next To: The Ramones, Misfits, Vivian Girls, Best Coast, Wavves, Strange Boys, Black Belles
Where to start: Latest single "Searching for the Past" or surf-flecked kiss-off "Dazed":
Who: An arty electronic pop project from Vancouver-reared, Montreal-based singer-songwriter Claire Boucher, whose prolific releases in the past year or so have dabbled in styles as varied as witch-house and K-pop. Grimes' 4AD debut Visions lands in North America on February 21, a few days after Boucher takes the music on tour.
File Next To: Kate Bush, Fever Ray, Balam Acab, Purity Ring, Elite Gymnastics