20 Best Avant Albums of 2014

The year's best in noise, out-jazz, contemporary classical, ambient, drone and more

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Richard Dawson, 'Nothing Important'

3. Richard Dawson, 'Nothing Important'

Purging his 16-minute fever dreams as he pokes and prods on a busted guitar, this 33-year-old Newcastle yarn-spiller makes abrasive, buzzing, in-the-red, distortion-clad folk music that stumbles and squawks to its own beat. Somewhere between the twisted ankle rhythms of Captain Beefheart, the freewheeling melodies of British folk weirdos like the Incredible String Band, and the choked, caustic guitar strangle of Eugene Chadbourne, Richard Dawson is a songwriter without peer or precedent. His voice ricochets between a sensitive croon, a demented throat-shredding gurgle and long drone like the pubstool version of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Lyrically, Dawson speaks in faded Polaroids and misremembered details ("A toby jug filled to the brim with curtain hooks/A sheepskin rug discolored with tobacco smoke") giving his exaggerated tales unexpected weight and depth.

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