TOP 10 SONGS OF 2013

HONORABLE MENTION:

Golden Arrow/ Darkside

Weight of Gold/ Forest Swords

I Dream In Neon/ Dirty Beaches

Dance Apocalyptic/ Janelle Monae

Reflektor/ Arcade Fire

#10: Red 2 Go/ Danny Brown

The centerpiece of Brown’s full length debut balances a steady synth reminiscent of early Mobb Deep, jabbing basslines and fluttering percussion as this exciting new rap star delivers memorable lines like  “Did it my way/ I ain’t nobody ho/ I’m here to pimp the rap game/ Bitch I’m Red 2 Go.”

#9: Sunbather/ Deafheaven

Swarming distortion and perfectly blended vocal wails open this epic title track with a bang; it is an intoxicating listen over its 10 minutes, weaving and winding through many complex stanzas before building to a climax around the 8:30 mark, the payoff of which cannot be understated.

#8: New Slaves/ Kanye West

The skeletal echo of a synth beat complemented by violin elements on this racially charged indictment stands out on Kanye’s polarizing, stripped down Yeezus, and the moment it takes a full shift into a gorgeous blues breakdown that is in complete contrast to the all of the music that came before it works perfectly; it’s a demonstration of West’s utter brilliance from a production standpoint.

#7: Ya Hey/ Vampire Weekend

Catchy synth breaks and an additictive melody combine with lifted vocal samples on this standout summer anthem from Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, and one can’t help but notice the inversion of the title of perhaps the greatest summer anthem of all time.

#6: Brennistein/ Sigur Ros

Sigur Ros’ best music has always been highly compositional and chilly, and shares characteristics with metal as such, but “Brennisteinn”, the best opening track of 2013, enters a vast new landscape for the band, with its thunderous bass lines and dark, soaring post-rock guitars supporting Jonsi’s incomparable vocal surge. Sigur Ros has also almost always been at their best when making more serious, ominous music (“Hoppipola” notwithstanding) but this track indicates something new is afoot; they have rarely sounded this completely hopeless and foreboding.

#5: Wonder 2/ My Bloody Valentine

The closing track from the band’s first record in 22 years tops everything that comes before it on mbv, opening and closing with guitar effects reminiscent of a helicopter taking off, complete with heavenly vocals that hover well above the surface, and held together by a commanding guitar line that can best be described as resembling a massive swarm of bees.

#4: Get Lucky/ Daft Punk

This 2013 summer anthem and instant classic serves as the quintessential pop song of the year as it combines dance elements which are very of-the-moment with a disco influence that pays homage to the sounds of the late 70s, all complemented by the single catchiest guitar hook of the year and by star vocalist Pharell Williams.

#3: Song For Zula/ Phosphorescent

The stunning, indelible “Song For Zula” provides a massive highlight early on Matthew Houck’s Muchacho with its radiating, dream-like synth bounce and electronic violin string composition that combine with his powerfully quaking vocal delivery on lines like “Yeah then I saw love/ Disfigure me/ Into something I am not recognizing.”

#2: The Red Wing/ Fuck Buttons

A catchy whistle melody provides distinct contrast on this enormous, sweeping highlight from the completely electronic Slow Focus, steadily gaining an industrial guitar riff, fluttering electronic horns, laser beam synths, and screaming chimes as it exhudes confidence all the way through. A perfect microcosm for the multi-dimensionality of this collection of songs, this is one to listen to when walking by yourself in the dark; I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make you feel completely and utterly invincible.

#1: Raspberry Cane/ Youth Lagoon

Twenty-three year old Trevor Powers’ “Raspberry Cane” is a perfectly constructed song, and it was the best single one recorded in 2013. Powers’ voice cracks as the song opens, eventually picking up sweeping electronic horns to complement its subtle keyboard melody. There’s impressive restraint in the patience shown before another massive tonal shift into the coda, as swirling reverb resonates and Powers strains to hit notes through the emotional chorus, coming back full circle as it concludes. Goosebump City.

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