Bands to Watch 2014: Meet this year's most promising local acts

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

The musicians featured in Alive's 2014 Bands to Watch lineup can be a difficult lot to pin down.

"People will ask me to explain Counterfeit Madison's music," said Sharon Udoh of her solo venture, which features an ever-rotating cast of supporting players. "It's pain. It's joy. It's relief. It's sadness. It's all of those things. I am without boundaries."

It's a sentiment expressed by a majority of artists on the bill, which also includes Post Coma Network, Angela Perley & the Howlin' Moons, Cliffs, Bummers and DJ Giovanny, who will bring the evening to a raucous close with a set that will likely draw on everything from hip-hop to house to obscure Latin folk recordings - a reflection of the diverse music he was exposed to growing up in New York, Ecuador and Columbus.

Bummers singer/guitarist Jeff Pearl expressed similar sentiments about the rising surf-garage crew's style, saying, "If you want to play a new venue or something they always ask, 'What's your sound?' And I don't know, man. It's rock 'n' roll, yeah, but it's kind of all over the place."

It's this kind of diversity - not just in Columbus, but within each individual band - that is helping the local music scene evolve in unexpected and exciting ways. And it's a large part of what we'll be celebrating when we host our 11th annual Bands to Watch showcase at Skully's Music-Diner on Saturday, Jan. 25. The event, as always, remains free for all to attend. Read on to learn more about five of the artists we expect big things from in the coming year.

• Angela Perley & the Howlin' Moons

• Bummers

• Cliffs

• Counterfeit Madison

• Post Coma Network