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Best of Atlanta 2013 After Dark

 

Best Of Atlanta 2013 After Dark (large)


After Dark

Shouting out Atlanta's latest and greatest of the after-dark hours in our Best of issue has become an annual litmus test for the city's place on a larger cultural map. From the outside looking in, avant-garde rockers Deerhunter are still riding the wave of their fifth, and possibly career-defining, album Monomania. On the radio, the pep rally bellow of "2 Chainzzz" has become impossible to avoid. But here at home, in the wake of the country's recent economic woes, Atlanta's musical communities have grown tighter, the sounds that bind each one becoming increasingly defined. This year, a homegrown metal scene - best personified by the black-clad headbangers of Disfigurement and their growing fascination with the outlandish, gory aesthetics of a classic '80s sound - became a dominant force. Underground MC Scotty ATL broke adventurous new ground with his F.A.I.T.H. mixtape.

From Mayhem to heRobust to Distal, electronic music pushed the outer limits of club music. Progress and nostalgia found equal footing in Atlanta over the last year. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the ragtime and jittery rock of Cabbagetown songwriter Blair Crimmins' latest album, Sing-a-Longs. Fresh trends are revealing themselves in the likes of young indie rockers Warehouse, drummer Joe Sweat, and rising hip-hop star Rich Homie Quan. Naming the city's best artists is no easy task. We're lucky there's so much incredible talent to choose from.

— Chad Radford, Music Editor

Best dark horse producer

10th Letter
Experimental beat maker 10th Letter, aka Jeremi Johnson, creates an all-encompassing mix that's as psychedelic and abstract as it is deeply soulful and direct. His talents are best showcased on the recent digital LP Yesterdays Dreams//Tomorrows Paths. Every noise morphs under the direction of Johnson'smore...
Experimental beat maker 10th Letter, aka Jeremi Johnson, creates an all-encompassing mix that's as psychedelic and abstract as it is deeply soulful and direct. His talents are best showcased on the recent digital LP Yesterdays Dreams//Tomorrows Paths. Every noise morphs under the direction of Johnson's thoughtful knob-twiddling. Similar to Madlib's crate-digging enthusiasm and Prefuse 73's cut-and-paste wizardry, 10th Letter touches on the best of retro-sourced vibes and forward-thinking techniques in songs such as "Return to Yesterday," "Let Me Know, Miss Electric Veins," and "Yesterdays Dreams." More than just a master of multiple methods, 10th Letter has surfaced in 2013 as a jack-of-all-trades, upending hip-hop instrumentals and lending a curious touch of peculiarity to Atlanta's expansive electronic music scene. www.10thletter.bandcamp.com. less...

Best experimental act

Jungol
The electronic-tinged local rock innovator Jungol has created a beautiful and twisted film and soundtrack project dubbed Go Softly. The group's core members, twin brothers Josh and Graham Yoder, have long probed the outer limits of the imagination with reverb-heavy electronic rock. With Go Softly, themore...
The electronic-tinged local rock innovator Jungol has created a beautiful and twisted film and soundtrack project dubbed Go Softly. The group's core members, twin brothers Josh and Graham Yoder, have long probed the outer limits of the imagination with reverb-heavy electronic rock. With Go Softly, the group reaches even further into the realms of the strange and surreal. Released as a series of short vignettes via YouTube, the abstract film follows a few different characters communing with nature in various ways. Each scene is drenched in surreal colors that flood the synapses with disjointed narratives and themes that are at once pleasant and nightmarish. The film's musical score creates a dreamlike ambiance with bouncy rhythms and a totally psychedelic vibe. Together, the resulting sound and vision is hypnotizing, eerie, and sometimes just plain weird. www.jungol.net. less...



Best instrumentalist

Joe Sweat
Drummer Joe Sweat picked up his first pair of sticks at the age of 13. Ten years later, he's pounding the skins behind such powerful local punk and metal acts as Manic and Mangled. His steady pace and rapid style have begun to reshape the more aggressive enclaves of Atlanta's underground rock scenes.more...
Drummer Joe Sweat picked up his first pair of sticks at the age of 13. Ten years later, he's pounding the skins behind such powerful local punk and metal acts as Manic and Mangled. His steady pace and rapid style have begun to reshape the more aggressive enclaves of Atlanta's underground rock scenes. Earlier this year, when he joined ranks with Order of the Owl, his motorik dirge effectively stripped the doom-laced trio of its doomy tendencies, getting the lead out of its sludgy grind, and pushing the group into deeper, higher, and much faster realms of sonic terrain. At the ripe old age of 23, Sweat is forcing the scene to march to his beat. www.mangledmetal.bandcamp.com, www.scavengerofdeathrecords.bandcamp.com/album/manic-s-t-7. less...

Best new soul music fixture

Gwen Bunn
With a distinctively jazz-coated and slightly off-kilter vocal style, singer Gwen Bunn has emerged as the most promising new voice in Atlanta's soul music scene. Bunn made a splash in 2012 by lending her talents to saxophonist Darryl Reeves' album Mercury on the remake of Roy Ayers' classic "Every Timemore...
With a distinctively jazz-coated and slightly off-kilter vocal style, singer Gwen Bunn has emerged as the most promising new voice in Atlanta's soul music scene. Bunn made a splash in 2012 by lending her talents to saxophonist Darryl Reeves' album Mercury on the remake of Roy Ayers' classic "Every Time I See You." Later that year, she grabbed mainstream shine by repeatedly winning "Wild Out Wednesday," a talent contest on BET's "106 & Park." Her streak continued into 2013, when she joined forces with acclaimed producer/musician Zo! to record the bouncy track "Count to Five," the first single from his latest release, ManMade. Bunn also handled co-production duties on rapper Schoolboy Q's "Collard Greens," featuring hip-hop darling Kendrick Lamar. On top of all that, she's currently putting the finishing touches on Melody Dungeon, her second self-produced album, which includes the ultra-mellow, super-dreamy track "Epitome" that's been building buzz for months. www.reverbnation.com/gwenbunn. less...

Best rockabilly recovery act

Caroline & the Ramblers
It's tough keeping a band together in this town. Imagine the double trauma of your longtime group breaking up on the eve of finishing your first album, and having to put together a completely new lineup to keep things moving. Caroline Hull Engel, singer and guitarist for Caroline & the Ramblers did justmore...
It's tough keeping a band together in this town. Imagine the double trauma of your longtime group breaking up on the eve of finishing your first album, and having to put together a completely new lineup to keep things moving. Caroline Hull Engel, singer and guitarist for Caroline & the Ramblers did just that in 2013. For more than 20 years, Caroline has been Atlanta's rockabilly and honky tonk queen, sporting a powerful voice, great material, and a band that's matched to her vocal prowess. Just as the group was putting the final touches on its debut album, the band imploded. But when Caroline sets her mind to making something happen, it's gonna get done. Without wasting a single moment, she formed a new group, featuring guitarist Danny Arana, bassist Big Joel G, and drummer Mike Z, to rise from the ashes and reclaim the Ramblers' rightful place amid Atlanta's roots music scene with fresh energy and renewed confidence. www.reverbnation.com/carolineandtheramblers. less...

Best songwriter

Blair Crimmins
After abandoning the conventions of alternative rock for which he came to be known with the band Bishop Don, Blair Crimmins became so enamored with making old-timey music that he seemed like a novelty act. His forays into storytelling, ragtime, jazz, and antique songwriting didn't seem like much of amore...
After abandoning the conventions of alternative rock for which he came to be known with the band Bishop Don, Blair Crimmins became so enamored with making old-timey music that he seemed like a novelty act. His forays into storytelling, ragtime, jazz, and antique songwriting didn't seem like much of a risk, but a sense of newfound personal enjoyment welled from within every barreling note on his 2010 solo debut, The Musical Stylings Of .... Soon, new aspects of his voice emerged with all the gusto of a songwriter with a capital "S," complete with earnest and cautionary tales of wine, women, song, and retribution. But Crimmins knows he's no cowboy or folk troubadour: He shunned many of the trappings that box in dedicated songwriters and embraced horns, high-energy theatrics, and other elements outside the traditional canon. Crimmins has never been more refined than on this year's Sing-A-Longs CD. If he caters to any genre, it's one that's entirely his own, and that's something a lot of guys with pens and guitars either don't know how to do, or don't have the guts to do. www.blaircrimminsandthehookers.com. less...

Best artist you can't avoid

2 Chainz
We love to hate 2 Chainz's seemingly comedic lyrics: "She got a big booty, so I call her Big Booty." But we're not joking when we say 2 Chainz is inescapable right now. Since his chart-topping, Grammy-nominated 2012 debut album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, it's been almost impossible to avoid hearing themore...
We love to hate 2 Chainz's seemingly comedic lyrics: "She got a big booty, so I call her Big Booty." But we're not joking when we say 2 Chainz is inescapable right now. Since his chart-topping, Grammy-nominated 2012 debut album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, it's been almost impossible to avoid hearing the "2 CHAIIINZ!!" war cry on the radio. At this point, he's repping Atlanta through sheer cultural pervasiveness. The deluxe edition of his new album, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time, comes with a cookbook. Here's hoping he gets a Food Network show in the near future. He's different, yeah, he's different. www.2chainz.com. less...

Best art-punk band

Dasher
Dasher has quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with on the local art-punk scene. The group has received much praise for its seven-song demo tape, and anticipation is mounting for its forthcoming vinyl full-length debut this year via local garage-punk mainstay Die Slaughterhaus Records.more...
Dasher has quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with on the local art-punk scene. The group has received much praise for its seven-song demo tape, and anticipation is mounting for its forthcoming vinyl full-length debut this year via local garage-punk mainstay Die Slaughterhaus Records. The group features three talented Atlanta underground vets: Kylee Kimbrough with precise drumming and abrasive screams, Ian Deaton on bass, and guitar work from Abby Go Go's Jon Allinson. Dasher shreds through bleak and arty soundscapes, bringing mighty music to some of the city's gruffest venues. www.dasher2.bandcamp.com. less...

Best band to groove on when you're feeling blue

Mood Rings
Hey loners, meet your new best friend. Sometimes, sitting with your own reflective contemplations just feels right, and the only companion you need is a resonating soundtrack. Mood Rings' lush guitar pop is a sullen symphony of grooves. Singer/guitarist Will Fussell's subtle yet dynamic voice swingsmore...
Hey loners, meet your new best friend. Sometimes, sitting with your own reflective contemplations just feels right, and the only companion you need is a resonating soundtrack. Mood Rings' lush guitar pop is a sullen symphony of grooves. Singer/guitarist Will Fussell's subtle yet dynamic voice swings like a pendulum between a forlorn falsetto and bold girl-group crooning on the group's debut album, VPI Harmony (Mexican Summer). The album contains enough ethereal eccentricities and heartbroken wistfulness to sit comfortably alongside your record collection's legendary mopers the Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, and Slowdive. www.moodrings.bandcamp.com. less...

Best bass music bomber

Mayhem
Dig into any number of Atlanta's various bass and electronic music scenes and one name continually rises above the din of bombastic swells, trap beats, and robotic rhythms: Mayhem. Following a streak of dance floor hits, the moniker behind which ATLien producer, beat maker, and all around electro-renaissancemore...
Dig into any number of Atlanta's various bass and electronic music scenes and one name continually rises above the din of bombastic swells, trap beats, and robotic rhythms: Mayhem. Following a streak of dance floor hits, the moniker behind which ATLien producer, beat maker, and all around electro-renaissance man Anthony Rotella masquerades has drawn a metric ton of accolades the world over. The last year alone has seen a laundry list of career-defining moments, from his "Brick Squad Anthem," dubstep remixes for artists such as Skism and Caspa, and larger-than-life hip-hop joints on which he found himself paired up with everyone from Gucci Mane and Trouble to Tyga and Verse Simmonds. www.soundcloud.com/mayhem. less...

Best mixtape

Scotty ATL's F.A.I.T.H.
With names such as Trinidad Jame$ and Big K.R.I.T. featured throughout Scotty ATL's latest mixtape tape, F.A.I.T.H. (Forever Atlanta in the Heart), the local MC is moving from the Atlanta underground to the forefront of hip-hop. On F.A.I.T.H. he teamed up with DJ Burn One, a collaboration that benefitedmore...
With names such as Trinidad Jame$ and Big K.R.I.T. featured throughout Scotty ATL's latest mixtape tape, F.A.I.T.H. (Forever Atlanta in the Heart), the local MC is moving from the Atlanta underground to the forefront of hip-hop. On F.A.I.T.H. he teamed up with DJ Burn One, a collaboration that benefited both artists, pushing them further musically than they would have gone on their own. Standout track "My Shoes" is a smooth, soul-influenced testimonial about perseverance, dedication, and overcoming adversity. F.A.I.T.H. includes rapid-fire verses from Starlito and Killa Kyleon and pulls from the best of both mainstream and underground hip-hop, making the mixtape his most solid creation yet. www.scottyatl.net. less...



Best overall musical act

Deerhunter
At this point, there's no stopping Deerhunter's total domination of the indie music scene both in Atlanta and beyond. After undergoing personnel changes this year - including the departure of bassist Josh Fauver, followed by the addition of Frankie Broyles (guitar) and Josh McKay (bass) - the quintetmore...
At this point, there's no stopping Deerhunter's total domination of the indie music scene both in Atlanta and beyond. After undergoing personnel changes this year - including the departure of bassist Josh Fauver, followed by the addition of Frankie Broyles (guitar) and Josh McKay (bass) - the quintet has continued to excel on every front. 2013's Monomania, Deerhunter's most raucous release since 2007's Cryptograms, is an unabashed love letter to garage rock's avant-garde outer limits. In April, the group premiered the album's title track on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Frontman Bradford Cox used every chance to translate the band's signature live spectacle to the night owl audience, resulting in an unrefined performance over which many people are still scratching their heads. In June, the group curated the annual All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Camber Sands, U.K., taking full advantage of such a massive stage by performing its albums Cryptograms, Microcastle, and Halcyon Digest in their entireties, and placing ATL outsiders Lonnie Holley and Hollow Stars alongside notable acts such as the Breeders, Steve Reich, Panda Bear, and more. Five albums in, Deerhunter has surpassed more music industry high points than most bands ever dream about. www.deerhuntertheband.blogspot.com. less...

Best electronic act

heRobust
To say that Hayden Kramer, aka Atlanta electronic marvel heRobust, is prolific would be an understatement. Over the last year, Kramer has mastered various electronic styles, be it wobbly runs of glitch-hop, experimental trap, or dropped out post-dubstep. Most heRobust releases and song titles come packagedmore...
To say that Hayden Kramer, aka Atlanta electronic marvel heRobust, is prolific would be an understatement. Over the last year, Kramer has mastered various electronic styles, be it wobbly runs of glitch-hop, experimental trap, or dropped out post-dubstep. Most heRobust releases and song titles come packaged in tongue-in-cheek puns and glittery references such as "ghostBUSTED," his remix that half-satirizes, half-celebrates the Ghostbusters theme. www.herobust.bandcamp.com. less...

Best new thug motivator

Rich Homie Quan
Eight long years after Young Jeezy came to motivate the thugs, and Rocko after him, Rich Homie Quan has picked up the motivational speaker mantle for a new generation. His accent is as "Aalanna" as it gets, seemingly rendering his music in a coded language. The infectious glide of his "Type of Way" singlemore...
Eight long years after Young Jeezy came to motivate the thugs, and Rocko after him, Rich Homie Quan has picked up the motivational speaker mantle for a new generation. His accent is as "Aalanna" as it gets, seemingly rendering his music in a coded language. The infectious glide of his "Type of Way" single placed him in his own lane, garnering shout-outs from coast to coast. Here in his hometown, he's shaken off early comparisons to fellow Atlanta rapper Future by writing songs that boast about being "rich" in the spirit - not necessarily in the bank - which makes you want to join in the chant, rather than just rob him. www.twitter.com/RichHomieQuan. less...

Best post-hardcore assault

Dead in the Dirt's The Blind Hole
Although terms such as "grindcore," "power violence," and "metal" serve their purpose, as the strains of post-hardcore music are subjected to increasingly grotesque over-genrefication, they also place constraints on both the band and the audience's expectations. Dead in the Dirt's The Blind Hole (Southernmore...
Although terms such as "grindcore," "power violence," and "metal" serve their purpose, as the strains of post-hardcore music are subjected to increasingly grotesque over-genrefication, they also place constraints on both the band and the audience's expectations. Dead in the Dirt's The Blind Hole (Southern Lord Records), could be filed under any one of these subheadings. The record's power lies in its ability to smash through those barriers. Culminating in a storm of 22 songs that whiz by in less than 25 minutes, tempos phase up and down as a pastiche of sonic textures, distortion, and weirdo samples add a fourth dimension to the music. Songs such as "Swelling," "Strength Through Restraint," and "Idiot Bliss" test the limits of traditional hardcore by lumbering along at a grinding pace without losing an ounce of their crushing weight. "Cop" and "No Chain" blend lightning-fast energy with brutal low-end grind that deliver heady blasts of existential angst. All of Dead in the Dirt's music strives to reach into deeper, darker levels of the human condition, transcending whatever it was you thought grindcore, hardcore, and metal were all about. www.deadinthedirt.bandcamp.com. less...

Best punk band

WYMYNS PRYSYN
At a time when many of Atlanta's best underground rock bands are sticking with a defined sound, be it metal, noise, or hardcore, WYMYNS PRYSYN remains almost impossible to pin down. It's noisy and obtuse, yet also catchy and melodic. In the past few years, WP's full-volume live assault has improved withmore...
At a time when many of Atlanta's best underground rock bands are sticking with a defined sound, be it metal, noise, or hardcore, WYMYNS PRYSYN remains almost impossible to pin down. It's noisy and obtuse, yet also catchy and melodic. In the past few years, WP's full-volume live assault has improved with each new release, culminating in this year's four-song 7-inch for local label No Breaks. The band's sound, image, and touring practices are all rooted in a strong DIY ethic. After shuffling through a number of drummers, WP settled on the skill and experience of Bobby Michaud (Brain Flannel, Double Negative). Bassist Josh Feigert's artwork is incorporated into every release for a blitz that pummels the eyes as well as the ears. www.wymynsprysyn.bandcamp.com. less...

Best metal band

Disfigurement

Best power violence provocateurs

Cheap Art
Atlanta's hardcore scene has been on a creative high, with power violence masters Cheap Art leading the charge. In the past year, the band has expanded both its sound and its membership, going from a duo to a four-piece since forming in December of 2011. Cheap Art's DIY commitment to play anywhere atmore...
Atlanta's hardcore scene has been on a creative high, with power violence masters Cheap Art leading the charge. In the past year, the band has expanded both its sound and its membership, going from a duo to a four-piece since forming in December of 2011. Cheap Art's DIY commitment to play anywhere at any time ended up putting the band in contact with two out-of-town hardcore labels that split-released its Desocialized 7-inch this summer. The group is quickly cementing itself as a standard bearer in a thriving hardcore scene. www.cheapart.bandcamp.com. less...

Best rap recording by a visual artist

Fahamu Pecou's All Dat Glitters Aint Goals
Who knew that a guy who paints for a living could produce a great hip-hop album? Well, lo and behold, renowned Atlanta-based visual artist Fahamu Pecou did just that when he crafted the All Dat Glitters Aint Goals EP. Based on a series of paintings of the same name, the five-song project features vocalsmore...
Who knew that a guy who paints for a living could produce a great hip-hop album? Well, lo and behold, renowned Atlanta-based visual artist Fahamu Pecou did just that when he crafted the All Dat Glitters Aint Goals EP. Based on a series of paintings of the same name, the five-song project features vocals by Pecou and a bevy of hip-hop luminaries, including Stic.Man of Dead Prez, Boog Brown, Methuzulah, Mike Flo, G.R.E.A.T. Scott, Starchile, Clan Destined, and more. Like his visual art, Pecou's songs explore themes of materialism, black masculinity, and fatherhood - and they do so via creatively crafted lyrics and boom-bap-flavored beats on par with some of Atlanta's best hip-hop releases this year. www.fahamupecouistheshit.bandcamp.com. less...

Best crossover electronic music maker

Distal
Atlanta electronic wunderkind Distal, aka Michael Rathbun, touches on dozens of styles and genres without losing sight of his own sonic identity. Distal's debut full-length, Civilization, issued by Tectonic, the celebrated dubstep label operated by the Bristol-based legend and producer Pinch, receivedmore...
Atlanta electronic wunderkind Distal, aka Michael Rathbun, touches on dozens of styles and genres without losing sight of his own sonic identity. Distal's debut full-length, Civilization, issued by Tectonic, the celebrated dubstep label operated by the Bristol-based legend and producer Pinch, received praise from both fans and critics of the global post-dubstep and bass music communities. Distal's prolific and genre-jumping sound includes nods to future bass, juke, and acid music. No other producer from the city's thriving electronic scene comes close to Distal's ever-rising quality and quantity of sounds. www.soundcloud.com/distal. less...

Best improviser

Eric Fontaine
While much of saxophonist/clarinetist Eric Fontaine's musical catalog falls into the category of jazz composition, there is a growing output of his work that can be filed under improvisation. Fontaine's alternately smooth and explosive playing has graced Atlanta's jazz scene for more than a decade. He'smore...
While much of saxophonist/clarinetist Eric Fontaine's musical catalog falls into the category of jazz composition, there is a growing output of his work that can be filed under improvisation. Fontaine's alternately smooth and explosive playing has graced Atlanta's jazz scene for more than a decade. He's played with acts as diverse as the Soulphonics and the 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra, among many others. In his new Living Space Trio, Fontaine joins with cellist/guitarist Benjamin Shirley and percussionist Scotty Bryan for a reflective journey through time and space that can be heard on two different recordings for the local Behip Records label. These days, Fontaine frequents Elliott Street Pub's Tuesday night Kevin Scott jams and the Sounds from the Underground series. Not only has his documentation of the local jazz scene been constant and concise, as evidenced by the treasure trove of clips on his YouTube channel, he's a major contributor to the seismic rumblings that define the raw and esoteric corners of Atlanta's jazz, rock, and experimental music scenes. www.ericfontainejazz.com. less...

Best bartender

Norvella from QUAD Legacy Live

Best blues club

Northside Tavern



Best concert of the past year

Music Midtown
musicmidtown.com

Best drag queen

Baton Bob
batonbob.weebly.com

Best stripper who's not Blondie

TIE: Barbie and Peaches from Clermont Lounge

Best trivia night

Dirty South Trivia at Diesel Diesel Filling Station



Best local blues act

Men in Blues

Best local classical music act

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
www.atlantasymphony.orghttp://www.atlantasymphony.org/

Best local mainstream act

Outkast
www.outkast.comhttp://www.outkast.com/

Best local new music act

Silky Johnson
silky.bandcamp.comhttp://silky.bandcamp.com/

Best local producer

Justin Padron

Best local rock act

Stokeswood
www.stokeswood.nethttp://www.stokeswood.net/

Best local songwriter

Sonia Leigh
www.sonialeigh.comhttp://www.sonialeigh.com/

Best nightlife event

Iris ESP 101 Learn To Believe

Best college bar/club

QUAD @ Spring4th Complex Legacy Live

Best hotel bar

The W Hotel Midtown

Best local folk act

TIE: Cicada Rhythm, Neil Cribbs
cicadarhythm.org/ www.neilcribbs.com

Best local label

Freakstep Records
freakstep.com

Best local studio

Studio 882
hesmkaexperience.com/tag/studio-882

Best sports bar

Taco Mac Taco Mac
And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best live act

The Wheeler Boys
www.thewheelerboys.comhttp://www.thewheelerboys.com/

Best local DJ

DJ Snellvillain
soundcloud.com/snellvillain

Best local hip-hop act

Tom P.
tomp.bandcamp.comhttp://tomp.bandcamp.com/
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Best bartender

Norvella from QUAD Legacy Live



Best blues club

Northside Tavern

Best concert of the past year

Music Midtown
musicmidtown.com

Best dark horse producer

10th Letter
Experimental beat maker 10th Letter, aka Jeremi Johnson, creates an all-encompassing mix that's as psychedelic and abstract as it is deeply soulful and direct. His talents are best showcased on the recent digital LP Yesterdays Dreams//Tomorrows Paths. Every noise morphs under the direction of Johnson'smore...
Experimental beat maker 10th Letter, aka Jeremi Johnson, creates an all-encompassing mix that's as psychedelic and abstract as it is deeply soulful and direct. His talents are best showcased on the recent digital LP Yesterdays Dreams//Tomorrows Paths. Every noise morphs under the direction of Johnson's thoughtful knob-twiddling. Similar to Madlib's crate-digging enthusiasm and Prefuse 73's cut-and-paste wizardry, 10th Letter touches on the best of retro-sourced vibes and forward-thinking techniques in songs such as "Return to Yesterday," "Let Me Know, Miss Electric Veins," and "Yesterdays Dreams." More than just a master of multiple methods, 10th Letter has surfaced in 2013 as a jack-of-all-trades, upending hip-hop instrumentals and lending a curious touch of peculiarity to Atlanta's expansive electronic music scene. www.10thletter.bandcamp.com. less...

Best drag queen

Baton Bob
batonbob.weebly.com

Best experimental act

Jungol
The electronic-tinged local rock innovator Jungol has created a beautiful and twisted film and soundtrack project dubbed Go Softly. The group's core members, twin brothers Josh and Graham Yoder, have long probed the outer limits of the imagination with reverb-heavy electronic rock. With Go Softly, themore...
The electronic-tinged local rock innovator Jungol has created a beautiful and twisted film and soundtrack project dubbed Go Softly. The group's core members, twin brothers Josh and Graham Yoder, have long probed the outer limits of the imagination with reverb-heavy electronic rock. With Go Softly, the group reaches even further into the realms of the strange and surreal. Released as a series of short vignettes via YouTube, the abstract film follows a few different characters communing with nature in various ways. Each scene is drenched in surreal colors that flood the synapses with disjointed narratives and themes that are at once pleasant and nightmarish. The film's musical score creates a dreamlike ambiance with bouncy rhythms and a totally psychedelic vibe. Together, the resulting sound and vision is hypnotizing, eerie, and sometimes just plain weird. www.jungol.net. less...

Best instrumentalist

Joe Sweat
Drummer Joe Sweat picked up his first pair of sticks at the age of 13. Ten years later, he's pounding the skins behind such powerful local punk and metal acts as Manic and Mangled. His steady pace and rapid style have begun to reshape the more aggressive enclaves of Atlanta's underground rock scenes.more...
Drummer Joe Sweat picked up his first pair of sticks at the age of 13. Ten years later, he's pounding the skins behind such powerful local punk and metal acts as Manic and Mangled. His steady pace and rapid style have begun to reshape the more aggressive enclaves of Atlanta's underground rock scenes. Earlier this year, when he joined ranks with Order of the Owl, his motorik dirge effectively stripped the doom-laced trio of its doomy tendencies, getting the lead out of its sludgy grind, and pushing the group into deeper, higher, and much faster realms of sonic terrain. At the ripe old age of 23, Sweat is forcing the scene to march to his beat. www.mangledmetal.bandcamp.com, www.scavengerofdeathrecords.bandcamp.com/album/manic-s-t-7. less...

Best new soul music fixture

Gwen Bunn
With a distinctively jazz-coated and slightly off-kilter vocal style, singer Gwen Bunn has emerged as the most promising new voice in Atlanta's soul music scene. Bunn made a splash in 2012 by lending her talents to saxophonist Darryl Reeves' album Mercury on the remake of Roy Ayers' classic "Every Timemore...
With a distinctively jazz-coated and slightly off-kilter vocal style, singer Gwen Bunn has emerged as the most promising new voice in Atlanta's soul music scene. Bunn made a splash in 2012 by lending her talents to saxophonist Darryl Reeves' album Mercury on the remake of Roy Ayers' classic "Every Time I See You." Later that year, she grabbed mainstream shine by repeatedly winning "Wild Out Wednesday," a talent contest on BET's "106 & Park." Her streak continued into 2013, when she joined forces with acclaimed producer/musician Zo! to record the bouncy track "Count to Five," the first single from his latest release, ManMade. Bunn also handled co-production duties on rapper Schoolboy Q's "Collard Greens," featuring hip-hop darling Kendrick Lamar. On top of all that, she's currently putting the finishing touches on Melody Dungeon, her second self-produced album, which includes the ultra-mellow, super-dreamy track "Epitome" that's been building buzz for months. www.reverbnation.com/gwenbunn. less...

Best rockabilly recovery act

Caroline & the Ramblers
It's tough keeping a band together in this town. Imagine the double trauma of your longtime group breaking up on the eve of finishing your first album, and having to put together a completely new lineup to keep things moving. Caroline Hull Engel, singer and guitarist for Caroline & the Ramblers did justmore...
It's tough keeping a band together in this town. Imagine the double trauma of your longtime group breaking up on the eve of finishing your first album, and having to put together a completely new lineup to keep things moving. Caroline Hull Engel, singer and guitarist for Caroline & the Ramblers did just that in 2013. For more than 20 years, Caroline has been Atlanta's rockabilly and honky tonk queen, sporting a powerful voice, great material, and a band that's matched to her vocal prowess. Just as the group was putting the final touches on its debut album, the band imploded. But when Caroline sets her mind to making something happen, it's gonna get done. Without wasting a single moment, she formed a new group, featuring guitarist Danny Arana, bassist Big Joel G, and drummer Mike Z, to rise from the ashes and reclaim the Ramblers' rightful place amid Atlanta's roots music scene with fresh energy and renewed confidence. www.reverbnation.com/carolineandtheramblers. less...

Best songwriter

Blair Crimmins
After abandoning the conventions of alternative rock for which he came to be known with the band Bishop Don, Blair Crimmins became so enamored with making old-timey music that he seemed like a novelty act. His forays into storytelling, ragtime, jazz, and antique songwriting didn't seem like much of amore...
After abandoning the conventions of alternative rock for which he came to be known with the band Bishop Don, Blair Crimmins became so enamored with making old-timey music that he seemed like a novelty act. His forays into storytelling, ragtime, jazz, and antique songwriting didn't seem like much of a risk, but a sense of newfound personal enjoyment welled from within every barreling note on his 2010 solo debut, The Musical Stylings Of .... Soon, new aspects of his voice emerged with all the gusto of a songwriter with a capital "S," complete with earnest and cautionary tales of wine, women, song, and retribution. But Crimmins knows he's no cowboy or folk troubadour: He shunned many of the trappings that box in dedicated songwriters and embraced horns, high-energy theatrics, and other elements outside the traditional canon. Crimmins has never been more refined than on this year's Sing-A-Longs CD. If he caters to any genre, it's one that's entirely his own, and that's something a lot of guys with pens and guitars either don't know how to do, or don't have the guts to do. www.blaircrimminsandthehookers.com. less...

Best stripper who's not Blondie

TIE: Barbie and Peaches from Clermont Lounge

Best trivia night

Dirty South Trivia at Diesel Diesel Filling Station

Best artist you can't avoid

2 Chainz
We love to hate 2 Chainz's seemingly comedic lyrics: "She got a big booty, so I call her Big Booty." But we're not joking when we say 2 Chainz is inescapable right now. Since his chart-topping, Grammy-nominated 2012 debut album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, it's been almost impossible to avoid hearing themore...
We love to hate 2 Chainz's seemingly comedic lyrics: "She got a big booty, so I call her Big Booty." But we're not joking when we say 2 Chainz is inescapable right now. Since his chart-topping, Grammy-nominated 2012 debut album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, it's been almost impossible to avoid hearing the "2 CHAIIINZ!!" war cry on the radio. At this point, he's repping Atlanta through sheer cultural pervasiveness. The deluxe edition of his new album, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time, comes with a cookbook. Here's hoping he gets a Food Network show in the near future. He's different, yeah, he's different. www.2chainz.com. less...

Best art-punk band

Dasher
Dasher has quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with on the local art-punk scene. The group has received much praise for its seven-song demo tape, and anticipation is mounting for its forthcoming vinyl full-length debut this year via local garage-punk mainstay Die Slaughterhaus Records.more...
Dasher has quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with on the local art-punk scene. The group has received much praise for its seven-song demo tape, and anticipation is mounting for its forthcoming vinyl full-length debut this year via local garage-punk mainstay Die Slaughterhaus Records. The group features three talented Atlanta underground vets: Kylee Kimbrough with precise drumming and abrasive screams, Ian Deaton on bass, and guitar work from Abby Go Go's Jon Allinson. Dasher shreds through bleak and arty soundscapes, bringing mighty music to some of the city's gruffest venues. www.dasher2.bandcamp.com. less...

Best band to groove on when you're feeling blue

Mood Rings
Hey loners, meet your new best friend. Sometimes, sitting with your own reflective contemplations just feels right, and the only companion you need is a resonating soundtrack. Mood Rings' lush guitar pop is a sullen symphony of grooves. Singer/guitarist Will Fussell's subtle yet dynamic voice swingsmore...
Hey loners, meet your new best friend. Sometimes, sitting with your own reflective contemplations just feels right, and the only companion you need is a resonating soundtrack. Mood Rings' lush guitar pop is a sullen symphony of grooves. Singer/guitarist Will Fussell's subtle yet dynamic voice swings like a pendulum between a forlorn falsetto and bold girl-group crooning on the group's debut album, VPI Harmony (Mexican Summer). The album contains enough ethereal eccentricities and heartbroken wistfulness to sit comfortably alongside your record collection's legendary mopers the Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, and Slowdive. www.moodrings.bandcamp.com. less...

Best bass music bomber

Mayhem
Dig into any number of Atlanta's various bass and electronic music scenes and one name continually rises above the din of bombastic swells, trap beats, and robotic rhythms: Mayhem. Following a streak of dance floor hits, the moniker behind which ATLien producer, beat maker, and all around electro-renaissancemore...
Dig into any number of Atlanta's various bass and electronic music scenes and one name continually rises above the din of bombastic swells, trap beats, and robotic rhythms: Mayhem. Following a streak of dance floor hits, the moniker behind which ATLien producer, beat maker, and all around electro-renaissance man Anthony Rotella masquerades has drawn a metric ton of accolades the world over. The last year alone has seen a laundry list of career-defining moments, from his "Brick Squad Anthem," dubstep remixes for artists such as Skism and Caspa, and larger-than-life hip-hop joints on which he found himself paired up with everyone from Gucci Mane and Trouble to Tyga and Verse Simmonds. www.soundcloud.com/mayhem. less...

Best local blues act

Men in Blues

Best local classical music act

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
www.atlantasymphony.orghttp://www.atlantasymphony.org/

Best local mainstream act

Outkast
www.outkast.comhttp://www.outkast.com/

Best local new music act

Silky Johnson
silky.bandcamp.comhttp://silky.bandcamp.com/

Best local producer

Justin Padron

Best local rock act

Stokeswood
www.stokeswood.nethttp://www.stokeswood.net/

Best local songwriter

Sonia Leigh
www.sonialeigh.comhttp://www.sonialeigh.com/

Best mixtape

Scotty ATL's F.A.I.T.H.
With names such as Trinidad Jame$ and Big K.R.I.T. featured throughout Scotty ATL's latest mixtape tape, F.A.I.T.H. (Forever Atlanta in the Heart), the local MC is moving from the Atlanta underground to the forefront of hip-hop. On F.A.I.T.H. he teamed up with DJ Burn One, a collaboration that benefitedmore...
With names such as Trinidad Jame$ and Big K.R.I.T. featured throughout Scotty ATL's latest mixtape tape, F.A.I.T.H. (Forever Atlanta in the Heart), the local MC is moving from the Atlanta underground to the forefront of hip-hop. On F.A.I.T.H. he teamed up with DJ Burn One, a collaboration that benefited both artists, pushing them further musically than they would have gone on their own. Standout track "My Shoes" is a smooth, soul-influenced testimonial about perseverance, dedication, and overcoming adversity. F.A.I.T.H. includes rapid-fire verses from Starlito and Killa Kyleon and pulls from the best of both mainstream and underground hip-hop, making the mixtape his most solid creation yet. www.scottyatl.net. less...

Best nightlife event

Iris ESP 101 Learn To Believe

Best overall musical act

Deerhunter
At this point, there's no stopping Deerhunter's total domination of the indie music scene both in Atlanta and beyond. After undergoing personnel changes this year - including the departure of bassist Josh Fauver, followed by the addition of Frankie Broyles (guitar) and Josh McKay (bass) - the quintetmore...
At this point, there's no stopping Deerhunter's total domination of the indie music scene both in Atlanta and beyond. After undergoing personnel changes this year - including the departure of bassist Josh Fauver, followed by the addition of Frankie Broyles (guitar) and Josh McKay (bass) - the quintet has continued to excel on every front. 2013's Monomania, Deerhunter's most raucous release since 2007's Cryptograms, is an unabashed love letter to garage rock's avant-garde outer limits. In April, the group premiered the album's title track on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Frontman Bradford Cox used every chance to translate the band's signature live spectacle to the night owl audience, resulting in an unrefined performance over which many people are still scratching their heads. In June, the group curated the annual All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Camber Sands, U.K., taking full advantage of such a massive stage by performing its albums Cryptograms, Microcastle, and Halcyon Digest in their entireties, and placing ATL outsiders Lonnie Holley and Hollow Stars alongside notable acts such as the Breeders, Steve Reich, Panda Bear, and more. Five albums in, Deerhunter has surpassed more music industry high points than most bands ever dream about. www.deerhuntertheband.blogspot.com. less...

Best college bar/club

QUAD @ Spring4th Complex Legacy Live

Best electronic act

heRobust
To say that Hayden Kramer, aka Atlanta electronic marvel heRobust, is prolific would be an understatement. Over the last year, Kramer has mastered various electronic styles, be it wobbly runs of glitch-hop, experimental trap, or dropped out post-dubstep. Most heRobust releases and song titles come packagedmore...
To say that Hayden Kramer, aka Atlanta electronic marvel heRobust, is prolific would be an understatement. Over the last year, Kramer has mastered various electronic styles, be it wobbly runs of glitch-hop, experimental trap, or dropped out post-dubstep. Most heRobust releases and song titles come packaged in tongue-in-cheek puns and glittery references such as "ghostBUSTED," his remix that half-satirizes, half-celebrates the Ghostbusters theme. www.herobust.bandcamp.com. less...

Best hotel bar

The W Hotel Midtown

Best local folk act

TIE: Cicada Rhythm, Neil Cribbs
cicadarhythm.org/ www.neilcribbs.com

Best local label

Freakstep Records
freakstep.com
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