Ones to Watch

By Ari Karpel

Originally published on Advocate.com May 18 2012 3:00 AM ET

Vicci Martinez x300 | ADVOCATE.COMVicci Martinez

A reality-show refugee, Martinez was bumped from the first season of The Voice but landed a deal with Universal Republic due to her rendition of Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over.” Her new, self-titled album arrives in June, and tour dates are soon to follow at VicciMartinez.com.

RACHAEL CANTU X400 | ADVOCATE.COMRachael Cantu

This L.A.-based folk–indie rock chanteuse and guitarist follows in the footsteps of pals Tegan and Sara but has a spiritual bent all her own and a fan base she attracted while touring with B.B. King. She’s fresh off a West Coast tour; upcoming concerts are at RachaelCantu.com.

KHAOS DA RAPPER X300 | ADVOCATE.COMKhaos Da Rapper

The self-proclaimed “femcee” is one of the creators behind Yo! LGBT Raps, an online hip-hop countdown show. Her albums include The Apprentice and Reality TV, and among her ambitions is opening an international chain of “boutique-style” recording studios that cater to women musicians. Videos and mixtapes can be found at KhaosDaRapper.com.

BRILLIANT COLORS X300 | ADVOCATE.COMBrilliant Color

The name provides an apt metaphor for the scrappy, San Francisco–based all-lesbian trio’s noise-pop riffs. The group’s latest album is the irresistible Again and Again. Find West Coast shows at ItsBrilliantColors.Blogspot.com.

KATASTROPHE X400 | ADVOCATE.COMKatastrophe

The swaggering trans rapper and producer Rocco Katastrophe turned his poetry slam success into a rap career marked by rapid-fire rhymes about the “alienating trip” of transformation. Katastrophe, who recently moved from the Bay Area to Brooklyn, is touring this year to support his new album, Second Hand Emotion. For dates along the East Coast, in the South, and, in September, in Europe, visit RoccoKatastrophe.com.

Melissa Li and the Barely Theirs X400 | ADVOCATE.COMMelissa Li and the Barely Theirs

A rarity in the pop and rock word: a Brooklyn band fronted by an Asian-American lesbian who boldly performed tunes from their latest album, The Beginning, at local honky-tonks and country saloons, just to prove they could. Find rock and country concert dates at MLBTMusic.Tumblr.com.