Top 50 Music List of 2013, Mixtape 3

January 2, 2014 at 5:54 pm (Best-of lists, Music Mixes)

Tape3

Down the stretch comes the final mixtape of the best music of 2013! Click away.

1. It Hugs Back, “Sa-Sa-Sa-Sails”

The first time I heard this song–which opens IHB’s 2013 album Recommended Record–it felt like a year-old lab puppy had just jumped into my lap and smothered me with affection, totally unaware of its own gloriously clumsy and over-the-top power. This song is a tidal wave of awesome. http://ithugsback.bigcartel.com/

2. The Men “Without A Face”

Obviously wearing a Neil Young influence elsewhere on their album New Moon, this particular song sports that influence a bit while still nicely recalling their noisier previous efforts. http://wearethemen.blogspot.com/

3. Emiliana Torrini, “Speed Of Dark”

This is here because Glenn Boothe tweeted about how good her record was last week, and I’ve been listening in a fairly obsessive endless loop since. Slinky and dark and sleek yet not without some rough edges, this Icelandic singer/songwriter album Tookah would be a for sure entrance in a year end top ten albums list, if I still did such things. http://emilianatorrini.com/

4. Superchunk, “Trees Of Barcelona”

Don’t call it a comeback. Superchunk’s second record after a hiatus continues the standards of excellence they’ve always had. One thing that people who write about Superchunk never seem to play up enough to my mind is just how well-built your typical Superchunk song is. This track, for instance is a genius exemplar of how you put verses, choruses, vocal clusters, bridges, and fadeouts together into a near-perfect whole. http://www.superchunk.com/

5. Temples, “Keep In The Dark”

Here in America we try, we really do. American bands try hard to look like rock stars before they’ve sold a record, try hard to get that 70s feel just right…but we’ve never, not ever done that as well as the Brits. Take Temples, for example, with the Bolan curls and gold lame pants and leather shirts…THESE guys are rock stars. This is a teaser single for a 2014 album that looks like it’ll be an absolute monster. Even better, it deserves to be. This is how you write a fantastic pop single. Dig those harps! http://templestheband.com/music

6. Guided By Voices, “Islands (She Talks In Rainbows)”

Well, WELCOME BACK, TOBIN SPROUT! Holy crap, what a song this is. You know how cool and lush and amazing the song that ends the first GBV album ever–“Captains Dead”–sounds? This is that, again, and it feels like some amazing transmission from an alternate guitar rock universe. I know a lot of folks who were stoked that the old GBV lineup were recording again. This is why.  From the album English Little League, http://rockathonrecords.com/guided_by_voices.html

7. Leisure Society, “All I Have Seen”

Let’s put something to rest: The Leisure Society aren’t a folk band. On their 2013 album, Alone Before The Ark, they both pare down their instrumentation a bit while filling out their sound. It’s a rock record with forays into folk, punk (no really!), and even–like here–a bit of blue-eyed soul. Wanna know why they’re Ray Davies’ favorite band? Give this a listen and then ask yourself if any other band could pull off a song this graceful, soulful, muscular and yet delicate. http://www.theleisuresociety.co.uk/

8. Euros Childs, “Holiday From Myself”

No idea what it is, but something about Euros’s beautiful, winsome voice makes me instantly nostalgic and happy. It conveys a sense of longing and whimsy and sadness somehow all rolled into one. This is music the adjective “lovely” was created to describe. From the 2013 album Situation Comedy, website is here: http://euroschilds.co.uk/

9. Mikal Cronin, “Shout It Out”

We live in wonderful times, times where a beautifully constructed hook like the one here captures the hearts of hipsters and cranky old men like me alike. Mikal Cronin at this point in his career seems to be tapping into a talent without boundaries. This song, from the sort of latin-guitar opening to the handclaps and noise closing, is just amazing. From the album MCII, available here: http://www.mergerecords.com/mcii

10. The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries, “She’s A Fucking Angel (From Fucking Heaven)”

Not sure what’s more amazing, the song title (which is clearly the song title of the year) or that the music actually lives up to it. This has a bit of a 90s indie noise punch married to a postpunk whirr of guitars and bass and a song that totally succeeds at making that title pay off. From the 2013 album Mass. Grave, check it here: http://kiamrecords.bandcamp.com/album/mass-grave

11. Eleanor Friedberger, “Stare At The Sun”

The excellence of her solo album, Personal Record, has me thinking about going back to listen to Fiery Furnaces and seeing if that band retcons. There’s none of the affected preciousness I’ve always associated with FF here, just a meaty, wonderfully executed song and album. Check it here: http://www.eleanorfriedberger.com/

12. Polvo, “Light Raking”

How great is this song? I mean it comes off sounding like the most pop thing Polvo’s ever done…and then after that first chorus they remind us “Hey, you’re listening Polvo, cheese.” Love the way this songs subverts expectations constanstly throughout, with those Don Henley synths on the chorus to the way they deconstruct and rebuild it all again. From the 2013 album Siberia, check it here: http://www.mergerecords.com/polvo

13. Brendan Benson, “Oh My Love”

Benson’s consistency became almost (don’t tell anyone I said this) dull in the past few years. In 2013, he released a single each month, and the unique approach seems to have fueled a new creative spark in his work. This song is like a swaying, swinging Pachelbel’s Canon with clever lyrics and brilliant execution. Benson collected all his 2013 singles onto an album at year’s end called You Were Right. Check it out here: http://www.brendanbenson.com/

14. The Parquet Courts, “Borrowed Time”

Yes, I know. You’ve heard this song dozens of times over the last year. So what? When a group of young NYC area rockers gets together and perfectly distills the things I loved so much 20 years ago in Big Dipper and Hypnolovewheel and this time the whole world notices…well we’re taking that for a victory lap here. http://parquetcourts.wordpress.com/

15. Dragoon, “Be In My Movie”

After waiting for a couple of years for the first Dragoon album, this one just sort of seemed to spontaneously appear last winter. Astonishingly, the album–The Galaxy Is But A Nursery–is better than the debut. This song is emblematic–loud, raucous, hook-filled, and clever. Check it out: http://dragoongalaxy.bandcamp.com/

16. Franz Ferdinand, “Right Action”

We promised you hits, hits you get. Yes, this song is all over cooler radio stations–but with good reason. This is how you write an outstanding, butt-shaking, anthemic post punk anthem…and we’ll ignore that it completely rips off That Petrol Emotions “Big Decision” for now. http://www.franzferdinand.com/

17. My Bloody Valentine, “In Another Way”

Of all the tracks on My Bloody Valentine’s surprising return to the land of the living sort of self-title album MBV, none sounded so much like a continuation of themes from Loveless than this track. Interestingly though, this song also best shows the way to a future MBV sound and future records, if they feel like it. A beautiful, sensual assault. http://www.mybloodyvalentine.org/Catalogue.aspx

18. The Elephant Stone, “The Sacred Sound”

The Elephant Stone’s self-titled 2013 album might be one of the best two or three records that came out in 2013, and what makes it striking is how often it both hews close to a formula before then breaking away from such constraints. For instance, this song is all feedback and noise that gives way to woozy strings and Rishi Dhir’s echoed voice closing out our look at the past year with one of the most gorgeous songs that came out in the last 12 months. http://www.elephantstonemusic.com/

That’s it, we’re done! Thanks for reading or listening or tolerating. Have a lovely 2014, y’all.

1 Comment

  1. The Very Best Music of 2013. Period. | Popnarcotic said,

    […] Mix Tape #3! […]

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