Album title: untitled EP
Management: Luke Mitzman
Release date: TBD
Monsta has the melodic synth thrum of Flux Pavilion, the tech-soul vocal drops of Moby and the reverberant snares of trip-hop act U.N.K.L.E. - but its sound is instrument-based and sample-free. The Welsh trio (producers Rufio and Rocky and vocalist Bryn Christopher) has captured some new kind of dubstep-driven pop lightning in a bottle, and it was Skrillex who found it. The group will release its first, still-untitled EP on the electronic dance music (EDM) star's indie imprint Owsla this summer.
"I was at South by Southwest with my manager Tim [Smith] and a few friends," says Skrillex (real name Sonny Moore). "We were having drinks and listening to music on blogs and YouTube and stuff. Tim says, 'I got something,' and pulls up [Monsta's "Holdin' On"]. I said, 'That's a sick track and a cool vocal sample. Where'd they get that from? Is that Aretha Franklin?'"
But it wasn't a sample. It was Christopher's powerfully androgynous performance of an original song written and recorded by the group using live instruments as well as synths and beats. "Holdin' On" has all the makings of a radio hit - not only an irresistible vocal hook, but a complete verse-chorus-verse song structure. Skrillex is onboard to remix it: His last remix of a full vocal, of Benny Benassi's "Cinema," won him a Grammy Award. "This is not your typical dubstep. A lot of that has already become cliché," he says. "This is next-level."
Album title: Magic Hour
Management: Big Life
Release date: May 29
The venerable downtown-glam-rock band's fourth album features productions from EDM luminaries like Calvin Harris, Diplo and Stuart Price, who helmed all of 2010's "Night Work." The Sisters have their usual bawdy fun on kiss-offs like "Keep Your Shoes On" and "Let's Have a Kiki," but Harris' "Only the Horses" is the standout: The expansive ballad makes it clear that his heart-tugging work on Rihanna's "We Found Love" wasn't a fluke.
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
Album title: Trouble
Management: Edward Cartwright, Darling U.K.
Release date: June 12
Since 2009, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs-aka British DJ/producer/performance artist Orlando Higginbottom-has made charmingly quirky, shoegazer electro-pop, frequently passed from friend to friend and blog to blog. Primarily released on European indie Greco Roman, TEED's early work snagged more than word-of-mouth success: 2010's "Garden" was licensed for a global Nokia Lumia campaign, attracting the attention of Polydor. Debut "Trouble" will be released in the United States on once-dormant Casablanca, which is refocusing on its dance roots in the wake of the EDM explosion. "He makes dance music that is listened to by people who really care about music," Casablanca president Thomas Dunkley says. "It's fun, smart, warm and heartfelt."
Cypress Hill & Rusko
Album title: Cypress X Rusko
Management: Velvet Hammer (Cypress Hill), SQE Music (Rusko)
Release date: June 17
Bonded by a love for bongs and bass, hip-hop crew Cypress Hill and dubstep prankster Rusko are making it official with a five-track EP, following the arrival of single/video "Roll It, Light It" in February. The brass-knuckles set features a "Roll It" remix by Travis Barker and "Can't Keep Me Down" with Damian Marley, who also turned up on a recent Skrillex single.
Rebecca & Fiona
Album title: I Love You, Man
Label: Ultra Music
Management: Henrik Augustin, Mr. Radar
Release date: July 10
Currently making their first rounds on the stateside DJ touring circuit, Rebecca Scheja and Fiona Fitzpatrick released their debut album, "I Love You, Man," in their native Sweden last year. The heady collection of dream-pop recalls Annie, Oh Land and the 4AD roster, particularly Lush-but with the wall of guitar fuzz replaced by a blanket of synth. It's a welcome anomaly in EDM's drop-obsessed, testosterone-driven landscape.
Album title: The Veldt (EP)
Label: Ultra Music
Management: Three Six Zero
Release date: July 25
Deadmau5 (aka Joel Zimmerman) has always been open with his fans, inviting them into his daily life on Twitter and Facebook. But he took it one step further with "The Veldt," which he created during a live 22-hour session on streaming platform Ustream. Aspiring singer/songwriter Chris James was watching: He took the track's raw instrumental (which Deadmau5 posted to SoundCloud), wrote a melody and lyrics, and uploaded his own vocal version. Deadmau5 could be seen finding, listening to and instantly loving James' vocal-and even calling his manager to draft the appropriate documents. The EP also contains remixes and "Failbait," a new collaboration with Cypress Hill that's more hip-hop than EDM.