Who: [artist id="3081382"]Florence and the Machine[/artist], the deceptive recording name of Florence Welch, an English lass whose debut album, Lungs, hit single "Kiss With a Fist" and penchant for energetic, death-defying live performances immediately catapulted her to the top of everybody's buzz list. And making her one of our Rock Week Artists to Watch in 2010 (along with Yeasayer, We the Kings and Suckers).
Sound Like: Lungs is an inspired, gorgeous mash-up of punchy fringe genres, equal parts Yeah Yeah Yeahs art rock, the rhythmic garage thump of the White Stripes, Lily Allen's cheeky gutter soul crooning and plenty of latter-day girl-power attitude. The whole stew is buoyed by Welch's sharp, elastic voice, which can easily shift from punk pounding ("Kiss With a Fist") to an ethereal hum ("Cosmic Hum") in the blink of an eye.
Watch for Falling Rock Stars: Part of the appeal of Florence and the Machine is the live show, which was on display at a handful of festivals last summer and will be back around the United States in the spring. "It's a lot of fun and fear and falling over," Welch told MTV News. "I'm quite unrestrained, and it does lead to some accidents. Onstage, I seem to have this force field of protection, so I rarely injure myself onstage, even as I'm climbing up rafters or jumping off of things. It's offstage after the gigs when things tend to go awry. At Reading Festival, I managed to climb all the way up the lighting rig but still managed to get a scar on my hand from trapping my thumb in a door after the set."
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Florence in Wonderland: Welch describes her sound as "a sort of gothic fairy tale" and says that she has a slight obsession with the human voice, which is why there is such a focus on her vocals on Lungs. "I'm obsessed with the explosive nature of music," she said. "I think vocals and drums are the heartbeat and lungs of music. Those are the two core elements. You could have those two, and it would still be a song."
Beat on the Brat: The fixation on percussion began at a very young age when Welch learned how to play the drums. "I was in a punk band called the Toxic Cockroaches when I was 13," she said. "We only had a drummer and only about one rehearsal, but the name's good!" Welch plays the drums on Lungs but had to hire somebody to handle the percussion for the live show when she realized she couldn't channel the multitasking majesty of Phil Collins. "I was the drummer in Florence and the Machine for a while. I have the enthusiasm, but my drumming style is very primal and basic. I couldn't keep in time while I was singing, so we got an actual drummer, much to my disappointment."
It's Rock Week at MTV News, and to celebrate, we're taking a look at some of the most-anticipated new albums and bands of 2010. Stay tuned all week for more!