The term “indie" has often been used to label electronica that doesn’t fit into any major category. Don’t let the term fool you though–there is some incredible talent here. These five artists are the cream of the crop of the moment. We ranked them based on productions, touring, and how big their overall fanbase has been in the past year. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
Crystal Castles vs Outkast & Raekwon - Skewed Empathy (Skratch Bastid Mix)
Hipster act Crystal Castles had a great 2010. Like every other artist on this list, this band has had an extensive touring schedule this past year, including HARD Summer. They’ve also released an astonishing album, Crystal Castles II, to outstanding critical acclaim. Some have even gone as far to say that it is one of the best albums of the decade. Quite impressive, indeed. But, whether you agree or not, there’s no doubt that Crystal Castles has been on the rise and continues to grow as a cult favorite. Attached is a sick mashup of their hit song Empathy with Outkast’s Skew It On The Bar-B. We’re anxious to hear this track and more during their performance at the upcoming Ultra Music Festival.
Ratatat - Bilar [XL]
Up next is a duo that everyone has come to know and love over the past couple years. Their latest accomplishments include the release of their newest album, LP4, and an appearance on the David Letterman show earlier this year with Kid Cudi. They’re known as Ratatat. Boasting intensely psychedelic lights at their live shows, they have been consistently blowing away audiences both inside and outside the US. Their productions have been making a big impact as well; In fact, Kid Cudi was so impressed that he asked them to make two beats on his album Man on the Moon: The End of The Day. We can all expect big things from them in 2011, as they will surely be pioneering the road in experimental EDM.
Pretty Lights - Finally Moving (James Brown Remix)
Coming in at #3 on the list is electronica extraordinaire Pretty Lights. He made a name for himself this year through his dazzling productions and energetic live shows along with drummer Adam Deitch. Combining aspects of hip hop, electro, dubstep, and even a little jazz, he manages to pull off a sound that is both uplifting and soulful. He’s already toured all across America, including Electric Zoo, leaving starry-eyed fans in his wake. Pretty Lights certainly has found his “sound," and we look forward to hearing it evolve over the next few years. Oh, and by the way, this guy is nice enough to give away all his music for free on his website. All he kindly asks for is a small donation.
Nosaj Thing - 1685/Bach [Alpha Pup]
This next producer is changing the face of hip hop-injected electronica. In the dawn of a new musical era, electronic sounds are being combined with every genre imaginable. Nosaj Thing manages to shine through all of this with songs that range from soulfully haunting jams to computer-chippy hip hop. To say that “it hits home" would be an understatement. He often shares the stages with fellow LA artists Daedalus and Gaslamp Killer, and has released material on many of the same labels. Recent twitter updates point to signs of new material being released this year, so keep your eyes peeled for a review.
Flying Lotus - I Feel Like Dying (Instrumental Mix)
He’s released a full length album to critical acclaim, has toured all over the world, and has gained much recognition from EDM and hip hop fans alike. I’m referring, of course, to Flying Lotus. If you have been lucky enough to see him live, you’d know that his showmanship combined with his other-worldly beats makes for an unforgettable experience. People can even be seen throwing up FlyLo gang signs at his shows. That’s the thing about him; he has such a strong cult following, it’s almost as if he isn’t even a real man, but rather an entity. Whatever he is, his achievements have merited him with the top spot on our list of the hottest indie acts of the moment.