Feature

Music - You heard it here first

Three heads of synchronisation reveal the artists they think are on the verge of making it big.

GARY DOWNING, CHRYSALIS

Director: of synchronisation, Chrysalis Music

Name: Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Signed to: Virgin Records/Chrysalis Music

Style: Sounds rather like an arcade machine being thrown into a lake.

Lowdown: This Reading-based electro-punk outfit sounds like the Sex Pistols covering Daft Punk. Their blistering live show was voted the second best of this year's Reading & Leeds Festivals and, aside from writing and recording their own material, they have been busy mixing the likes of Bloc Party, Muse and The Raconteurs. Their debut, self-produced album is expected in early 2008.

Featured track: We Are Rockstars

www.doesitoffendyou.com

Name: Steven Lindsay

Signed to: Echo Records/Chrysalis Music

Style: An epic singer-songwriter.

Lowdown: Along with Craig Armstrong, Lindsay was one of the members of the Scottish band The Big Dish, which disbanded in the 90s. Now writing and recording as a solo artist, he has an emotionally charged and cinematic style. In his new album, Kite, he finds beauty and creativity through simple introspection.

Featured Track: Kite

www.stevenlindsay.com

Name: The Sonic Hearts

Signed to: EMI/Chrysalis Music

Style: Liverpool's answer to The Magic Numbers.

Lowdown: With a Mersey-beat-meets-Americana sound, and a mesmerising frontman in Sean Butler, this quintet is destined to capture hearts with its summery feel-good tunes. A touch Neil Young, a touch Ryan Adams, gorgeous melodies and rasping harmonies are set to make a massive impact next year.

Featured track: Honey

www.thesonichearts.com

Name: Mexican Institute Of Sound

Signed to: Cooking Vinyl

Style: Funky Latino electronica.

Lowdown: Camilo Lara is the one-man dynamo behind M.I.S., which hails from Mexico. Blending hip-hop, electronica, spoken word, old-school samples and cha-cha-cha, the new album, Pinata, is a carefully constructed collage of musical influences that combine to reflect Lara's unique impression of life in bustling Mexico City.

Featured track: Escribeme Pronto

www.myspace.com/mexicaninstituteofsound

MARC ROBINSON, UNIVERSAL

Head of film, TV & advertising, Universal Music UK

Name: Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong

Signed to: Young & Lost Club/Mercury Records

Style: Glorious indie rock and pop.

Lowdown: Without doubt, a truly special band has arrived. Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong combine classic pop lyrics with fizzing guitars and a melody that sticks like glue. Their lively shows channel the spirit of every rock and pop giant of the past 50 years. Their EP is out this month (October), followed by an album in the new year.

Featured track: Lucio Starts Fires

www.myspace.com/joeleanandthejingjangjong

Name: Malakai

Signed to: Island Records

Style: An eclectic and eccentric mix.

Lowdown: Malakai is the Bristol-based Scott & G, a studio-based act using electronic and live instrumentation. The duo fuse an enormous range of influences to create music that's diverse and compelling. A cosmic soup of sounds and flavours that's already whetting the appetites of music fans and media. The skits in between tracks on the website are an essential part of the artists' make-up - they like things a little off-kilter.

Featured track: Snow Flake

www.malakai.info; www.myspace.com/malakaibristol

Name: Alberta Cross

Signed to: Fiction Records/Sony ATV

Style: Pure Americana.

Lowdown: Songwriters Petter Ericson Stakee and Terry Wolfers draw inspiration from rootsy gospel, blues and soul, along with The Band, Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen. With a contemporary twist, their sound invokes elements of the White Stripes and The Shins. They sound like nothing else going on around them, but are not trying to be different. They just are different. And very special.

Featured track: Leave Us or Forgive Us

www.myspace.com/albertacross

Name: Beth Rowley

Signed to: Universal Classics & Jazz

Style: A soupy mixture of roots, blues, soul, country, folk and gospel.

Lowdown: Beth Rowley has one of those voices, full of pure emotion, that commands you shut up and listen. Rowley writes and co-writes earthy, rough-round-the-edges tracks, drawing from folk, soul and blues. You can hear her sources of inspiration with hints of Emmylou Harris, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, PP Arnold, Jill Scott and Karen Carpenter.

Featured track: Nobody's Fault But Mine

www.myspace.com/bethrowley; www.bethrowley.com

MELANIE JOHNSON, EMI

Head of sales and promotions, EMI Music Publishing

Name: Reverend & The Makers

Signed to: Wall Of Sound/EMI Music Publishing

Style: Dance/indie.

Lowdown: Jon McClure, aka The Reverend, may be many different people. A poet. A gobshite to his enemies. A genius to his friends. The bloke working in the Sheffield Steel Factory with the Trotsky pamphlets in his back pocket. The bloke who sets out to save the world with a mouse and a blogspot account. A 25-year-old pop revolutionary. Yes, a friend of the Arctic Monkeys. And now, a top-ten pop star. The Reverend and his band The Makers have just made The State Of Things, their first album produced by Jagz Kooner (of Primal Scream's Swastika Eyes fame).

Featured track: Heavy Weight Champion of the World

www.myspace.com/reverendmusic

Name: Remi Nicole

Signed to: Island/EMI Music Publishing

Style: Guitar pop.

Lowdown: Remi Nicole has just about completed her debut album ("What's it called? Not telling," she says) after a whirlwind year of songwriting. Among her breakneck guitar pop gems is the feel-good hit of the summer, Go Mr Sunshine. She is a direct descendant of the Mike Skinner school of refashioning pop vocabulary into something totally of her own, and of her generation.

Featured track: Go Mr Sunshine

www.reminicole.com; www.myspace.com/reminicole1

Name: Ida Maria

Signed to: Nesna Records/EMI Music Publishing

Style: Indie.

Lowdown: Hailing from the mountains of Norway, Ida Maria mixes a dash of 70s New York garage with bold, brazen lyrics and a pop chic musical sensibility. Oh My God, Ida's first single, is described by the lady herself as "a song to have a panic attack to - like a desperate shout."

Featured track: Oh My God

www.myspace.com/idamaria

Name: Scouting For Girls

Signed to: Epic/EMI Music Publishing

Style: Indie pop.

Lowdown: This three-piece band from Ruislip specialises in vibrant, buoyant piano pop. After scooping the Innocent Smoothie Unsigned Band Award, a music industry scrum to sign them up ensued. Inspirational, quirky, escapist, and friendly, they're unashamedly nostalgic, with feel-good factor high on the agenda.

Featured track: Elvis Is Dead

www.myspace.com/scoutingforgirls.