Jonny Corndawg: The Virginia twanger has a fun corny side but a batch of seriously crafted new songs. Friday Mar. 23, Triple Rock.
Oberhofer: Brooklyn hipsters with a Vampire Weekend's spazzy catchiness but more rock oomph. Coming April 2 to 7th Street Entry.
Danny Brown: The Detroit rapper's Afro-hawk hairdo was as buoyant as his bawdy songs. May 27 at the Soundset festival.
Lila Downs: This folkloric Mexican singer, who spent parts of her youth in the Twin Cities, had one of the most adoring crowds at the fest. Oct. 17 at Ordway Center.
4 TO DOWNLOAD
Alabama Shakes: Singer Brittany Howard's howler voice and the band's Stax-garage groove was even more electrifying on stage, but their debut for ATO Records (out April 9) will suffice until a local date is booked.
Bruce Springsteen: Heard of him? He and the new gospel/horns-spiked version of E Street proved the new “Wrecking Ball” has many potent parts.
Cloud Nothings: The punky, choppy Cleveland noise-rock quartet defied its indie-nerd look blasting mightily through songs from its new Steve Albini-produced album.
Michael Kiwanuka: A British tunesmith with a sweet-soul Bill Withers voice but an elegant hippie-folk writing style.
3 WHO BOMBED
Sleigh Bells: Showy singer Alexis Krauss was able to make the most of the "Austin City Limits" studio's hi-fi lights and high-diving stage, but her band's formulaic, metallic, electronic noise-pop was mostly just ick.
The Shins: Frontman James Mercer produced a decent new album and lineup for his old band, but has the same old drab and awkward presence on stage.
Fiona Apple: "Bombed" is overstating it, as her band sounded riveting and her new songs captivating. But her voice often sounded as thin and shaky as her body frame.