We now live in a world where major corporate radio routinely features songs by Phoenix, M83, The Black Keys, Passion Pit, The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons, Kings of Leon and Macklemore. These were largely independent artists who for the most part built critical acclaim over the years by producing quality albums and slowly climbing up the ladder towards commercial success. So, who might break through and get some air play in 2013? Who will your friends ask you about one night at the bar (I am assuming those of you reading this are the token music friend)? Here's a list of 10 potential break out acts in 2013.10. Toro Y Moi
I fully admit I want Toro Y Moi's Anything in Return to breakout just because I find Chaz Bundick to be one of the most talented artists producing meaningful work at such a brisk pace right now. With the release of the album in later this month, we will have seen three good to great albums in three years -- at some point one of his endlessly catchy songs has to catch on with the mainstream.
If Free Energy's Love Sign becomes a hit record, they have Passion Pit and Weezer to thank. Their good-times-dancing-in-the-sun indie rock has become palatable to corporate radio thanks to the work from those two artists. The Philadelphia-based Free Energy will finally release their sophomore effort Love Sign this year and "Electric Fever" just screams Top 40 drive time for kiddies.8. Local Natives
I bet it just eats at the Local Natives guys that fun. stole their thunder. The LA band is following up their indie darling Gorilla Manor with Hummingbird. The band collaborated on production with The National's Aaron Dessner, who lends an air of maturity to the work. The stadium ready "Breakers" should find its way on to soundtracks, commercials and Grey's Anatomy montages.7. Generationals
Heza, the second album from ex-Eames Era members Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer sees the New Orleans natives embracing minimalist electronic framework for some of their songs while also keeping to their usual recipe: catchy guitar driven songs about youth. Expect to hear the album's first single "Spinoza" pop up on KXT any day now.6. The Sheepdogs
The Canadian band who won Rolling Stone's "choose the Cover" contest and used the fame to appear on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon returns this year with an album produced by Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. It sounds like every other thing produced by a member of the Black Keys, which is mainly like the Black Keys. Though it's far, far from the best thing on this list, it's almost guaranteed to break through.5. Chelsea Wolfe
Unknown Rooms is the best album Fiona Apple never made, which is an admittedly lazy comparison on my part. Still, fans of Apple will likely flock to Ms. Wolfe's dynamic work. "Appalachia" has been getting a fair amount of attention since it was released as a single back in September, and the critical praise is just starting to ramp up. Add in the continued support from her excellent label Sargent House, a lengthy tour and it may just be a matter of time before Chelsea takes over our air waves.4-3. A$AP Rocky or Azealia Banks
This one's a toss up: Both artists are putting out hotly anticipated albums in 2013 and are starting to pick up steam on the social media front. Either Rocky's Long. Live. A$AP. or Banks' Broke With Expensive Taste is going to dominate Urban and Top 40 radio this year, and if we're lucky both will.2. The Joy Formidable
Clear Channel is poised to make this Welsh trio stars. The media titan has had them play a number of events over the last year and a half (including a spot on The Edge's Christmas show). The band is still trading off an incredible run at 2011's SXSW that saw the band realize the soaring sonics of their debut The Big Roar in a live setting. If their follow up Wolf's Law has a song that's even half as interesting as "Whirring" was, they're going to be huge.
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The sad-sack Scots are back with their fourth full-length album Pedestrian Verse, which is being put out by Atlantic. The label seems to be following the same plan they used for Death Cab for Cutie for the band (namely put them everywhere they can and get as much blog buzz around the new release as possible). Expect lots of critical praise to come for the band as the first singles "The Woodpile" and "State Hospital" are already seeing lots of blog plays. Think of the band as Mumford & Sons, but talented and less yawn inducing.