The award for coming-out-of-nowhere goes to Alabama Shakes, whose southern-fried blues rock vibrates with authenticity and emotion. They became the hot new thing after SXSW, and ‘Boys and Girls’ only grows better with each listen. Brittany Howard’s powerful voice is one of a kind, as gruff and sweet as her Alabama home.

Howard has remarked at the surreality of Robert Plant showing up at her gigs and about Jack White wanting the Shakes to release singles for his Third Man Records. On top of that, they reached No. 3 on the Billboard rock albums chart. Pretty good for a bunch of friends from northern Alabama that started out just jamming twice a week.