This is a more informal version of my usual favorite tracks list, since I feel like ranking individual tracks as just one person is a little too impersonal and lacking common sense. Especially if there were 100 tracks, or 102 like there were last year. There was a ton of good music coming out this year and there could have easily been more than 100 songs on this list, but I opted to go for quality rather than quantity. There are still 40 songs here, which is a lot, but they’ve survived the cuts from 100, down to 70, to you know, 40. 40 great songs that really changed my year and made me think about what I’m exactly listening to in the year 2013, as compared to other years.
These songs have helped illustrate moments within my life in 2013, have them be soundtracking some stray thoughts in moments of boredom or allowing me to be completely obsessed with them for several weeks, if not months. Songs like these always come each year, but I always feel as though it’s important to highlight them, as a way to present them with some sort of prestigious award in my own mind. Even though I’m done with school and other work related things for about a month, I’m going to try and write a small blurb for each song, because they deserve it.
The * next to the song name notes that it’s in the Top 10 songs out of this bunch. They are the ones that you MUST listen to. MUST. They also won silly awards.
- Anamanaguchi – Planet*
This song gets the “Unknown Nostalgia of 2013″ award. This is due to the fact that it sounds like the theme music for the end of a 8-bit video game that took about 60 hours worth of gameplay and beating a near-impossible boss to reach the dramatic finale, where the main character and rescued fair maiden or lad ride off into the pixelated sunset on magical dolphins. Just a thought.
- Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Putting this out as the first single from the prolific indie band was a smooth move; with James Murphy flexing his production glitz and David Bowie providing backup vocals, there was no way this track could lose.
- Ariel Pink & Jorge Albrecht – Hang On to Life
UNF. That chorus tho. A slippery, smarmy cut of pop goodness, served up the only way Ariel Pink knows how. The extra telephone dialogue at the midpoint in the song really brings it all home, though.
- Beach Fossils – Shallow
The guitar tone is so sharp and contains so much depth, and then the vocals, bass, and melody guitar line come in and add even more depth- creating layers upon layers of interlocking instrumentals that harken back to a similar sound to Diiv’s “Doused.” Coincidentally, they both have water-related song names.
- Beck – Defriended*
This song gets the “The Main Man” Award, because Beck is the main man. After putting out an album only accessible through sheet music (a unique, not pretentious, move), he sneaks this new track out taking plays from an Animal Collective/Radiohead playbook with heavily sequenced drums and disorienting reverb but keeps the thing quintessentially Beck, which is his specialty. This track is superb and if this were a ranked list, it’d probably be number one.
- Bibio – A Tout A L’heure
Probably the happiest, purest tones put forth in a Bibio song since his breakout hit “Lover’s Carvings,” this song squeezes the dopamine out of the crevices of the cerebral cortex with its groovy bassline, bright synth melody, and of course the warm acoustic guitar.
- Big Black Delta – Side of the Road
M83/Muse ripoff? Nah man, this is some thick, catchy electro pop. Like many songs in this list, the chorus really makes this song stand out among the other songs, especially with the super theatrical vocals and throbbing synth line in the back.
- Chelsea Wolfe – Sick*
This song gets the “Song I’ve Imagined My Own Death the Most To of 2013″ award, a much contested prize. I’ve written many paragraphs about this song, but I’ll try and keep it to a minimum. This song is massive, comprising of an orchestra, immense percussion, eerie synths, and two versions of Wolfe’s bellowing yet smoky vocals: one pitch shifted down and one normal pitch. The song embodies despair and has given many goosebumps. Wooooof.
- Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener
Lyrics have never been a strong suit of mine, but on songs like these it makes me want to pay attention to other songs with equally as quirky, loveable, and hilarious lyrics. The song is about Barnett’s allergic episode in 100˚F heat, and the lyrics let the story play out wonderfully, always one-upping the next quotable phrase.
- Crying – Bodega Run
Chiptune influenced pop punk sounds like it could be terrible, but this fuckin’ rules. The instrumentals are super basic and ultra catchy and the lyrics are impossible not to love. It’s basically a story of people going to a bodega and buying snacks. With lines like “Lil’ Debbie is giving me the eye, down the aisle,” and “but they don’t got them dank doritos or those jalapeño cheetos” there’s no way this song can lose.
- Daft Punk – Doin’ It Right (ft. Panda Bear)*
This song wins the award “Favorite Alarm Clock Song of 2013.” The only electronically based song on Daft Punk’s newest album turns out to be my favorite, even though choosing one is almost an impossible task. The grooves on this are immaculate and the layering of Panda Bear’s vocals with the robot vocals of the punks is perfection. This was my alarm clock song for the majority of the summer, too, so its gotten a serious amount of play from me.
- Deafheaven – Dreamhouse*
This song wins the “Probably My Girlfriend’s Least Favorite Song on This List” Award. Dare I say that this song is the perfect introduction to black metal, blackgaze, post metal, post rock, or shoegaze to someone who is unfamiliar? Potentially yes, but it’s the sheer emotion put through in these wretching vocals and the thunderous guitars that really punch this song through the roof. There’s a reason why it’s been embraced by metal and non-metal fans alike. Definitely in the Top 10 for me for this year. That simple guitar line around 2:30, tho.
- Dean Blunt – Demon
I read an about a listening party experience with Blunt’s album The Redeemer where the album was played at deafening volumes in a pitch black room where the listeners were situated. The experience was intense, but extremely satisfying. I tried it out for myself, and found the same results. The thundering percussion and sequenced cello is messily juxtaposed with unprompted sound effects of shattering glass and car horns while Blunt’s vocals chant over the chaotic instrumental really is disorienting but sum up the album brilliantly. Check the whole thing out if you can.
- Delorean – Unhold (ft. Caroline Polachek)
I crafted a theory the other day when I was listening to this song, which was the reason that I like this song as much is because I can picture my 8th grade self Dance Dance Revolution’ing to it. The ultimate praise. It has a catchy beat, slick bassline, and Caroline Polachek’s vocals are amazing as always.
- Diarrhea Planet – Lite Dream
This song definitely gets the award “The Song I Air-Guitared To Most of 2013.” The song is a straight up face ripper! Diarrhea Planet’s four guitarists really have a field day on this one, absolutely shredding the listener’s inhibitions throughout three melody changes, each becoming more radical than the last. Basically it will rock your entire world every single time.