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#4 Ariel Pink
Ariel Pink might be more responsible than anyone for de-emphasizing the once clear-cut signifiers of rock 'n' roll cool. For years he's been reclaiming moves from corny power-pop and half-remembered supermarket soundsystem cheese, making the mothballed sounds of studio hacks seem weird and alive. He doesn't need blatant aggression, jagged guitars, stylish synth tones, futuristic beats, or anything else to be modern, just finely crafted sounds recalling tropes that were, until recently, considered the lowest of the low. It's pop art in the classic, Warholian sense. With Before Today
, a record that finally had the front-to-back, continued focus that previous releases could only manage in frustrating, tiny bursts, Pink's particular cracked genius has become undeniable. The result is a musical landscape unmoored, where mosh pits form to Yacht Rock, and it's hard to tell what's even going on anymore. Key Track: "Round and Round"