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21 Southeastern bands to watch

For you intrepid concert-goers always on the lookout for the next big thing, here are some Southeastern acts whose names may pop up in a conversation, music video or a radio station near you in the not so distant future. This is your chance to be the dude who's like, "Yeah, man, I've heard of them. They shred." Hardly definitive, but hopefully accurate, this list was meditated on for weeks by our psychics, and they totally ignored our instructions to pick just 20. (Guess they were covering their asses.) So here they are: 21 bands certified for your listening pleasure by the staff music writers and editors of Creative Loafing / Weekly Planet in Atlanta, Charlotte, Sarasota and Tampa.

The Apparitions This quintet from Lexington, Ky., was legally forced to change its name from the Hub to its new, ghostly title. Far more appropriate, the new name hints at the near translucent weight of its harmonic rock. Pulling from influences as disparate as Clinic and 311, the band throws down a raw groove and sweetens with British-blues progressions and some cheery psychedelia. www.wearetheapparitions.com

David Childers Mt. Holly, N.C.'s David Childers, a well-published poet, doesn't write folk music, he writes "folks" music: alcoholics attempting to dry out, ex-lovers coming to grips, etc. Backed by a top-notch band that includes his own son, Robert, on drums, Childers and Co. are already winning fans overseas in Europe. www.davidchilders.com

The Close This quartet of Auburn University graduates, now Atlanta residents, play complex, almost math-ish indie rock, reminiscent of Karate and a number of Dischord acts. Interwoven male/female vocals and harmonies are an added bonus to the taut song structures, and the theatrics of bassist Dustan Nigro are just pure gravy. www.thecloserocks.com

Devil's Workshop Big Band A big band for sure, this 17-piece collective blurs the boundaries between jazz, rock, funk and any other styles that happen to appear on their improvisational radar. They've been wowing audiences in Richmond, Va., since 2000, and their debut indie disc, Idle Hands, features remakes of songs by avant-rockers Radiohead and roots man John Hiatt. www.devilsworkshopbigband.com

Double Helix Tampa's maverick hip-hop crew showcases a love of commercial rap's funky early-'90s Golden Age (A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, etc.), but their cultural awareness and radical flow is right on the cutting edge of today's underground scene. www.peripheralrecords.com

DrugMoney Bandleader Fisher Meehan looks a little like the Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes, but he writes melodies more in line with another famous surfer — Brian Wilson. Meehan's hair-flipping, stage-bounding charisma and star-level wattage is legendary around Asheville, N.C., but expect the band to trade mountain climbing for chart climbing soon. www.drugmoney.org

Emery Reel Perfecting the idea of cinematic soundscape, Nashville's Emery Reel often finds its name next to post-rock luminaries like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Tortoise. Hailing from the same vicinity as the Grand Ole Opry, the band's ebb and flow instrumentals pair breathless guitar crests over a rippling stream of somnambulant rhythm. www.emeryreel.com

Glossary Murfreesboro, Tenn.'s Glossary matches twangy, multi-instrumental Americana power-pop with classic pop using an almost preternatural agility. The results are damn near perfect, putting the band on a par with burgeoning independent-scene peers like Centro-Matic and the New Pornographers. www.glossary.us

The Houston Brothers The Brothers — actually, Matt Faircloth on guitar and bass pedals, and Justin Faircloth on keyboards — began their musical collaboration as a duo but have since been joined by drummer Shawn Lynch, and the Charlotte band's relaxed and rootsy indie rock has upped the voltage, especially live. www.thehoustonbrothers.com

Humbert Miami veterans Humbert may ply an edgy, power pop-influenced brand of catchiness, but to write them off as a post-Weezer clone would be folly. The group's ambitious, wildly creative ideas and arrangements dress the big hooks up in plenty of engaging, ingenious eccentricity. www.humbert.net

Ishues Part of the Athens-based Attica Sound Farm collective, along with the Public Enemy-influenced Herb and Skills, Ishues drops a seamless flow of rhymes that cover the many moods of the man himself. It's introspective and hooky enough to succeed in a town devoted to sensitive college rock. www.ishues.com

The Julius Airwave This Jacksonville, Fla., outfit mixes the offbeat character of Pavement and the Shins with the Strokes' penchant for simple, idiosyncratic, hooky riffing. Rumor has it the band is being courted by a couple of indie-dom's biggest labels. www.juliusairwave.com

Luigi Formed by Michelle DuBois, half of the brain trust behind Atlanta-based sugary sweet power poppers Ultrababyfat, Luigi was merely supposed to be a recording entity. But when DuBois and her supporting cast got an offer to play live, they took it, bringing with them a new sexed-up punk approach similar to the Breeders. www.luigitheband.com

Mars Ill Taking their name from the location where the apostle Paul preached in the New Testament, Atlanta's Mars Ill is what would happen if Eminem and Dre were down with Jesus. Not your typical-looking hip-hop crew, MC manCHILD and DJ Dust may rep for their Lord, but that doesn't soften the vicious beats and barked testimonials. www.marsill.com

The Mercy Seat Starting out as Shotgun Wedding, this Tampa trio released two self- produced records and toured the U.K. with Alabama 3 before many local pundits had even heard them. They ply a minimalist, literate and misanthropic yet catchy blend of roots, atmosphere and last-call introspection. www.shotgunwedding.co.uk

Mexico 1910 This all-instrumental New Orleans quartet plays dark, experimental soundscapes reminiscent of the heavier moments from two other vocal-less outfits, Friends of Dean Martinez (sans pedal steel) or Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Named for the chaos, anxiety and possibility of the year preceding the Mexican Revolution, the band's music reflects those primal emotions to the letter. www.mexico1910.com

The Public The Public started out in New Orleans' late-'90s goth scene and cite the requisite reference points for any "The" band worth their salt: post-punk, Britpop, '70s glam, the Smiths and the Cure, and even a dash of those '80s heroes, the Replacements. But, this quartet manages to sound wholly original. www.wearethepublic.com

Pyramid A Charlotte-based collective of eight making a holy racket worthy of a Luis Buñuel film score. Speaking of soundtracks, the band had two of its songs featured on Sony Pictures' All the Real Girls. Pyramid is the sound of genres — rock, country, classical, jazz — being torn apart and reassembled into an organic whole. www.sidewalkexplosion.com

Questions in Dialect Eschewing the typical wave-calm-wave-calm pattern of most post-rock, Mississippi three-piece Questions in Dialect kink things up with some sexy, funk-based grooves. All of a sudden, the bottom will drop out of a cut, and all you have to hold onto is the steady sway of the pulsating bassline. That's not just out of the ordinary, that's hot. www.questionsindialect.com

Taylor & the Puffs Birmingham, Ala.'s Taylor Hollingsworth and his three-piece backing crew don't really care if you need another garage band like you need another four years of Bush. Not only do they not care, they are going to provide you one with the attitude of Bowie, the snarl of Black Francis and a foot the size of Shaquille O'Neal to kick you in the ass with, of course. www.skybucket.com/taylor

The Whigs These three University of Georgia coeds craft smart, catchy pop songs and the occasional psychedelic epic, with the occasional soaring guitar solo. While still preserving some indie cred, the trio already has played on the Rock Boat and shared a stage with Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan and Jessica Simpson. All without a record out. www.whigs.net

— Timothy C. Davis, Scott Harrell, Mark Sanders, John Schacht, Eric Snider, Nikhil Swaminathan, Tony Ware