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.



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.



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.