Elaine Bradley (Neon Trees) – the drummer for breakout alternative band Neon Trees, Elaine Bradley is a practicing and very devout Mormon who avoids all drink and drugs, is happily married and recently gave birth to her first son, Bryce Alden, at her Utah residence with the help of a midwife. “It was great birthing at home because we get to stay here with our new boy, and he never had to be whisked away after the birth,” Bradley told US Weekly. Neon Trees rang in 2013 with a performance on the annual Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show, where Bradley had the distinction of getting her first New Year’s hug from none less than MC Hammer.
Kim Schifino (Matt & Kim) – This outrageously cute and deceptively lethal dance-punk duo (and romantic couple) is all about having fun and being fearless, personified in upbeat and feel-good songs like the hit “Let’s Go” on their most recent LP, Lightning. Shifino was even brave enough to strip naked with her man in the middle of Times Square for the band’s notorious “Lessons Learned” music video. When she’s not playing drums, keyboards and singing all at the same time, Schifino is an exercise fiend, explaining how she reminds herself that “my butt isn’t big enough” as motivation. Did we mention that she’s funny, too?
Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (Of Monsters and Men) – Winning a battle of the bands competition in their home country of Iceland, this rollicking collective brings an element of campfire songs to their emotional folk-rock tunes, like the breakthrough hit “Little Talks” from their debut LP, My Head Is an Animal. Hilmarsdóttir’s sweetly delicate vocals are the ideal harmonious foil for the band’s co-lead singer, Ragnar Þórhallsson. The band’s rapidly growing American audience made Of Monsters and Men’s first U.S. tour a sell-out, with fans also showing much love for the band’s female touring trumpet player, Ragnhildur Gunnarsdóttir.
Haim – The buzz on this emerging trio of sisters out of L.A. is loud enough to reach the shores of England, where the heavily folk-influenced pop-rockers were picked by the BBC to top their “Sound of 2013” list of bands to watch over the upcoming year. On American shores, rocker Ryan Adams has already hosted them at his Pax Am studio for recording sessions. Having already toured the UK and Ireland with Florence and the Machine, there’s a very good chance Haim will be all over your radar (and radio dial) in the near future.
Morgan Kibby (M83) – While M83 is primarily the brainchild of French musician Anthony Gonzalez, L.A.-based singer and keyboard player Morgan Kibby has become an integral part of the band’s dreamy, ‘80s-influenced sound (like song “Midnight City”) both live and in the studio. Onstage, Kibby’s ethereal presence and angelic vocals have made her an instant fan favorite. Kibby also has an appropriately spectral side project called White Sea, and she’s become quite the accomplished remixer, taking on tracks by the likes of Active Child, Manchester Orchestra and even Britney Spears.
Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes) – Akin to a modern-day Bonnie Raitt, Howard can burn up a guitar and ignite a microphone with genuine, down-home blues-rock like nobody’s business. Having conquered the critics and a slew of marque music festivals including Outside Lands in San Francisco, Alabama Shakes have hit the airwaves with the emotional lament “Hold On” (found on their debut album, Boys & Girls) which even had a visibly impressed David Letterman singing their praises after the band’s first performance on his late-night talk show.
–Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local