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Chicagoan Ryley Walker and Daniel Bachman of Fredericksburg, Virginia, are devotees of American primitive guitar, the syncretic style developed more than five decades ago by John Fahey. "Both are in their early 20s, but Walker's solo cassette The Evidence of Things Unseen and Bachman's latest LP, Seven Pines, sound like the work of mature performers," writes Bill Meyer. "These men aren't just hot pickers but also skilled songwriters with a strong command of dynamics and books full of eerily affecting tunes. Their duo cassette, Of Deathly Premonitions (Plustapes), extends the American primitive tradition by incorporating electric sonorities and melodies that plumb the interiorized melancholy of Loren Connors and the epic sweep of Roy Montgomery."
"Lately the music media has been buzzing about the lamentable term 'twinklecore,' which it's noticed that people have been using to describe any underground rock band with an inclination toward the jittery, chimelike guitars of 90s emo," writes Leor Galil. "The revisionist emo sound has been percolating through the DIY scene for years, and bands both local (Into It. Over It., Coping, CSTVT) and national (Monument, Dikembe, Everyone Everywhere) have taken it in odd and exciting directions. Chicago-via-Philly musician Dave Collis joins their ranks with his band My Dad: twinkly guitars are a big part of the off-kilter songs on the group's 2012 debut, Stunts, which can change from messy, caterwauling punk to surging pastoral melody in seconds."
Bluegrass singer and guitarist Charlie Sizemore learned his art from one of the very best, working with the legendary Ralph Stanley for nine years beginning at the tender age of 16. He's known as a real stylist of the form, lending it the subtle phrasing of honky-tonk. As I write this week, "He didn't write any of the 14 songs on last year's Heartache Looking for a Home, but he makes every one sound like he did, whether it's Tom T. Hall's classic 'Pay No Attention to Alice' or the Alan Jackson obscurity 'Walking the Floor Over Me.'"
"Waka Flocka Flame's rap style is easy to describe: imagine a man who's apparently fucked-up out of his mind yelling into a microphone about the existential benefits of getting fucked-up out of one's mind," writes Miles Raymer. "Flocka isn't a technically gifted rapper, though to his credit he's never claimed otherwise—his lyrics and flow are about as subtle and artful as a monster truck flattening a parking lot full of economy cars. But his delivery is so infectiously enthusiastic that each of the dozen or so albums and mixtapes he's released since he put himself on the map with the 2010 LP Flockaveli is a must-listen."