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.