Los Angeles singer/songwriter/harpist Pat Grossi's "When Your Love is Safe" made The Amp's Best Music You Didn't Hear in 2010 list, but his entire EP "Curtis Lane," featuring Grossi's near-angelic vocals, was a refreshing and engrossing entrant into the synth movement sweeping the indie rock nation. We can't wait for his debut full-length.
Bethany Cosentino's Cali trio blend lazy surf tunes with the swing of '60s girl group pop and the gritty wooze of the '90s best lo-fi rock bands. Bonus: she maintains a Twitter for her lovable cat, Snacks.
A veteran of Canada's long-running "Degrassi" series, this Toronto MC became the biggest new rapper in years thanks to his ability to balance clever rhymes with soulful singing. There wasn't a big name in the game who didn't scramble to be on his much-anticipated Young Money debut "Thank Me Later." Luckily for Drake, the album surpassed the hype.
After gaining acclaim as the beatmaker for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim pre-commercial segues, this Los Angeles laptop DJ put out his intergalactic second album "Cosmogramma." The disc earned FlyLo, a.k.a. Steven Ellison, the Radiohead seal of approval: Thom Yorke guested the LP and invited Flying Lotus to open at his Atoms for Peace shows.
The Joy Formidable
The U.K. trio responsible for some of the best music you didn't hear this year play explosive, fuzzy anthems with incredibly sing-songy hooks. Get on board now, before you can't get into their 2011 shows.
The fierce rapper from Queens (pictured above) stole Kanye West's shine on "Monster," guested on approximately a billion tracks (check back tomorrow for a full rundown), and proved a newbie could hang with chart stars like Taylor Swift and Susan Boyle in the waning weeks of 2010. She even helped Lil' Kim get some attention, too.
The Morning Benders
If may have seemed like Baltimore had a lockdown on dream pop this year, but this Bay Area quartet managed to channel their Phil-Spector-on-quaaludes jams into a major breakthrough: Their 2010 disc "Big Echo" caught on with indie rock fans and advertising execs.
The Brooklyn duo who spent much of 2010 known as "M.I.A.'s favorite new band" lay chunky power chords and Alexis Krauss' angelic vocals over bombastic electro beats. Their off-kilter grooves are oddly mesmerizing, noisy treats.
Waka Flocka Flame
When you boast a name as ridiculous as "Waka Flocka Flame," it's almost as if you're conspiring against your own career, but Waka's debut album "Flockaveli," packed with foreboding street anthems, was one of the highlights in a standout year for hip-hop. Much of Waka's success comes thanks to The Amp's favorite new producer, Lex Luger, who also provided hyperactive beats to Rick Ross ("B.M.F.") and Kanye West ("All of the Lights").
A white rapper who wears his Alabama roots on his tattoo sleeve, Yelawolf quickly rose through the ranks from mixtapes to major labels in 2010, catching the ears of OutKast's Big Boi and Raekwon along the way. Buzz around the former skateboarder is growing, and we guarantee there won't be a house party in 2011 that doesn't feature at least one track from "Trunk Muzik 0-60," whether it's "I Just Wanna Party" with Gucci Mane, the Nirvana-sampling "Marijuana" or the rich girl ode "Daddy's Lambo."
[Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com]