Foreboding and somber like a Bela Lugosi movie, but with a musical aesthetic more in line with Béla Bartók, critics have long spun superlatives that point to this band's chosen namesakes. The comparisons are apt, though, as Bela's music is foreboding and cryptic, yet lush and sweeping, in ways that unite the disparate influences. Having formed in 1997 from the leftovers of New York City's Cultural Exhaust, lead singer and songwriter Jeff Hogan and drummer Fred Pisciotta (both "featured zombies" in a George Romero film, incidentally) would recruit bassist Mauro Felipe and former Rasputina cellist Julia Kent. After signing to Mother West, their debut EP Exit Music was an unexpected sensation in Belarus and Germany, garnering accolades throughout Eastern Europe. By April 2000, their debut full-length, Til Summer Ends, arrived, finding similarly favorable reviews. - Matt Fink