There was a really exciting and palpable tension that yanked and prodded music culture starkly in several directions throughout 2013. Last year, in my top albums post, I discussed the waning salience of genre and referenced Nitsuh Abebe’s theory that “map-making” was left by the wayside in favor of tangential listening habits. In short, the music I engage with had entered a vortex.
Not this year. The legend in the corner of that map re-emerged as some of our most prominent genre- and era-defining artists (The Flaming Lips, David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Mazzy Star, Boards of Canada, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, My Bloody Valentine) released new material that ranged from vanilla to transcendent. So as I was listening and filtering through new artists this year, I constantly had these seminal touchstones in the back of my head as supportive scaffolding to see how new sounds either expounded upon, orbited, or jilted respective genres. These are my favorite new/under-the-radar artists of the year that did any of those three things. Let’s get down to business, nerds.
With his comforting warble, cascading string arrangements, and field recordings, Jordan …read more