Ones to watch - music's rising stars

Magic Arm

Magic Arm's early singles may have been released by Switchflicker, the label that launched The Ting Tings, but there the comparison ends. Though Manchester's Marc Regisford does have one foot in the world of pop, it's of the more DIY variety; besides, the other is very much in the world of folk.

Strictly, he's a singer-songwriter, but one in the sonically-adventurous vein once epitomised by Beck: embracing electronics as an integral part of the sound rather than a mere "laptop folk" afterthought. Appropriately, Switchflicker have joined forces with the Peacefrog label (home of José González) to add clout to this release, which also features an LCD Soundsystem cover.

The single 'Bootsy Bootsy' is released by Switchflicker/Peacefrog on 23 February

The Qemists

Forget Pendulum. If you want an adrenalin-charged collision of drum'n'bass beats and rock riffage, look instead to the underground, and frankly superior, alternative: The Qemists. The impressive breadth of influences at work is reflected in the choice of collaborators on The Qems' debut album, Join The Q (see reviews, page 7). Avant rocker (and former Faith No More vocalist) Mike Patton crops up on "Lost Weekend", but things go almost dancehall with the arrival of grime MC Wiley on "Dem Na Like Me". Beatbox champion Beardyman and Zoe Devlin Love from Alabama 3 also appear, alongside several names from the drum'n'bass scene.

The album 'Join The Q' is released by Ninja Tune on 2 February

School Of Seven Bells

Once guitarist with American "space rock" trio Secret Machines, Benjamin Curtis has now teamed up with a pair of singing identical twins to create hypnotic, mildly narcotic and notably more pop-based music as School Of Seven Bells. Hailing from Brooklyn (where else?), their debut album won favourable comparisons to Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine upon its release in the US. Picked up for re-release by UK indie label Full Time Hobby, things are looking equally promising on these shores, with airplay from BBC 6 Music and a support tour with Bat For Lashes already confirmed for April.

The album 'Alpinisms' is released by Full Time Hobby on 23 February. The band are on UK tour from 24 February

Titus Andronicus

Named after a Shakespeare play and with songs that namecheck Albert Camus and Pieter Bruegel, one would be forgiven for thinking Titus Andronicus were a bookish, introverted bunch – indeed, they are to tour the US with the ever-twee Los Campesinos. Yet the screamed "Fuck you!" barely a minute into the debut album will explode any such notions. Instead, the New Jersey quintet come across not just as well-read but as bored, angry and quite possibly drunk. Theirs is an unlikely marriage of brattish punk and everyman folk of the sort made popular by Bruce Springsteen or, more recently, The Hold Steady. Happily, the result is not unlike a Noughties incarnation of The Pogues.

The album The Airing Of Grievances is released on Merok/XL on 2 February. The band are on UK tour from 23 February

William Elliott Whitmore

With four albums already under his weather-beaten belt, it must be said that Iowa's William Elliott Whitmore isn't your classic "Ones To Watch" candidate. But a recent move to Anti records – home, at one point or another, to Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and the late Joe Strummer – could open up his work to a whole new audience. The music is traditional, Bourbon-sodden, country-blues, yet it is marked out from the Americana masses due to its stark instrumentation and, in particular, the authority of Whitmore's voice, sounding decades older than his comparatively youthful 30 years. Not pushing musical boundaries, certainly, but hugely enjoyable nonetheless.

The album 'Animals In The Dark' is released by Anti on 16 February

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