Onward and upward with more of my favorite tracks of 2013.
#40 Phantogram-Black Out Days
Phantogram’s brand of darker indie pop with a touch of hip-hop excelled with Sarah Barthel’s soaring vocals and the swirling abyss of bass and synth. The echo that kicks off “Black Out Days” and reverberates throughout the track continues to haunt and make me hit replay.
#39 Dawes-From A Window Seat
“From A Window Seat” clarified two things about Dawes for me: a) these fellas would have been a lot bigger in the days of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and b) I like stories with my favorite songs and the boys of Dawes are true songwriters.
#38 Drake-Too Much ft Sampha
“Hold On, We’re Going Home” will grab all the accolades for it’s poppy, danceable nature, but “Too Much” was one of the best on Drizzy’s underrated third album. Sampha’s pained vocals were scene stealing and the well-crafted sparse instrumental (w/Nineteen85) excellently paired with Drake’s stated wordplay.
#37 Jason Isbell-Flying Over Water
Much like Dawes, my enjoyment of Jason Isbell lies in gut wrenching alt country narratives. Isbell laid on a bit of twang with his story and that was mighty alright by me.
#36 Toro y Moi-Say That
Chazwick Bundick aka Toro y Moi certainly shouldn’t be penalized for releasing an album in early January. Of all of the synth-filled, dance ready tracks released this year, “Say That” truly kicked the year off right. The eerie sample, mixed with keys and bassy synth is still circling my brain.
#35 Justin Timberlake-Mirrors
Pop records don’t get much bigger than “Mirrors”. The 8 minute plus cut had beatboxing, JT’s airy falsetto, call and response, emotional strings and more elements for a guaranteed path to mass appeal. “Mirrors” was also one of the few tracks on either 20/20 album that saw JT and Timbaland go back to their successful FutureSex/LoveSound formula.
#34 Grouplove – Ways To Go
“Ways To Go” showcased Grouplove’s tactic of male to female call and response to near perfection. When combined with bubbling synth, I’d argue this track was even better than “Tongue Tied”.
#33 Miley Cyrus/HAIM-Wrecking Ball
While I can’t condone the obnoxious ways of Miley Cyrus, there’s no denying she has people in her camp that can write mega pop hits. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, just because a song is considered “pop”, does not mean it isn’t a good song. While I couldn’t willingly put Miley Cyrus on this list, HAIM covered the genius of “Wrecking Ball” so I wouldn’t have to. No one can claim I’m a music snob, right?
#32 Kanye West-Black Skinhead
You could have titled this track “Kanye West RAW”, but it probably wouldn’t have had the same effect. The primal screams, tribal drums and audible breathing between rapid-fire bars took listeners places even die hard West fans wouldn’t have expected: Trent Reznor territory.
#31 Neko Case-Man
The furious pace of “Man” initially drew me in as the escalating tempo is faster than Case’s typical, alt country fare. What I came back for was Case’s analysis of gender and how awesome she sounds saying “And if I’m dipshit drunk on the pink perfume, I am the man in the fucking moon.”