Top 20 Songs of 2013: 10-1
Welcome to the top 10 songs of 2013. You can find songs 20-11 right here. The choice for the Top 10 was difficult in some places but not others. Four of the tracks here have been favourite’s of mine for quite some time while a few others slipped in late. What I consider the three best albums of the year are all represented in the Top 10 and I think it’d be difficult for me to see this list change otherwise.
10. The Fratellis – Halloween Blues
Record: We Need Medicine
Artist Link: http://www.thefratellis.com/
This song is so good I didn’t even remember what this band was originally known for. I knew the name sounded familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Not that I hate “Chelsea Dagger” but I wouldn’t be surprised if others scoffed at seeing them in the Top 10 of my list due to their disdain for the song. Forget it, even if you’re a Chicago Blackhawks fan. “Halloween Blues” is where it’s at. This is pure sock hop Haley and Comets upskirt boogying to the nth degree. Classic rock for the 21st century with fun lyrics and a party chorus. For some a band having a sound like this is a gimmick. For me it’s just pure crocodile rock.
09. CHVRCHES – Science Visions
Record: The Bones of What You Believe
Artist Link: http://chvrch.es/
Not only was this my third favourite album of the year but there are quite a few songs sitting just outside my Top 20 from CHVRCHES. It took a listen back to “Science/Visions” for me to fall in love with this song. You’ll probably hear this song in a Nicholas Refn film at some point because it harkens back to 80s synth montages as pure atmosphere and mystery. The vocals echo in your head and despite a withered chorus the song is easy to play on repeat and enjoy in consecutive sessions. A great start for a very tight band.
08. Chain Gang of 1974 – Miko (Spacebrother Remix)
Artist Link: http://thechaingangof1974.com/
Artist Link: https://www.facebook.com/Spacebrotherr
The original “Miko” is an average song. Even forgettable. It isn’t bad or anything but it would certainly not make my list if it wasn’t for Spacebrother. Spacebrother takes an ordinary song and turns it extraordinary by giving it mood and ominous tone. It’s incredible where this remake takes the song. It’s like The Nature Boy Ric Flair carrying a broomstick to a four star match, if you understand the pro wrestling reference. You likely don’t. Listen to the original before you listen to the remix. It’s the only way I can get across what a revelation the track is.
07. Kanye West – Black Skinhead
Artist Link: www.kanyewest.com/
There was a very popular word when “Yeezus” was released that you could read in pretty much every review of the album: industrial. It’s unfortunate because it doesn’t seem like anyone who writes music reviews knows what industrial music is. The only song that even gets close to “industrial” is “Black Skinhead”, unquestionably the best track on the album. It’s even the least embarrassing based on Kanye West’s lyrics. It’s well produced and probably my favourite workout track of the year, if I can claim that. It also has the worst music video of the year, which I refuse to link.
06. The Naked and Famous – Rolling Waves
Record: In Rolling Waves
Artist Link: http://www.thenakedandfamous.com/
There are a lot of solid songs on “In Rolling Waves”. From the first single “Hearts Like Ours” to “Grow Old”, it’s a very strong sophomore effort by TNAF. Easily the second best album of the year. Sonically, nothing on the record has the impact of the title track. In many ways I want to take points off because the song doesn’t feel like merely a rolling wave but a moving wall of water smashing against cliffrocks. If the chorus repeated one more time, there would be no more cliff. It has that much impact.
05. Daughter – Smother
Record: If You Leave
Artist Link: http://www.ohdaughter.com/
I’m starting to realize I have a soft spot for songs in which the most apt description is “haunting”. Elena Tonra has such an incredible voice. It’s imperfect in the type of way that you appreciate more than a perfect voice. You could never picture Tonra being chosen for a karaoke competition but her vocals goes further than that. It chills your bone when the final line, “Never to come out” plays. Beautiful.
04. Portugal. The Man – Modern Jesus
Record: Evil Friends
Artist Link: http://www.portugaltheman.com/
How deceptive. When I first heard the song, I was thinking some gospel song snuck into the Indie Playlist. Then I started listening to the lyrics and thought, “Hey, this is clever.” I then found the music video, which is absolutely fantastic and more proof that you can still make a great music video in the age of YouTube (especially with the nod to backyard wrestling). This eventually led me to “Evil Friends”, which I would call the best album of 2013. “Modern Jesus” is one of those songs I know I’ll always have somewhere to listen to. It’s more than just a song but the kind of inspirational words you wouldn’t cringe reading on a tumblr image. “The only rule we need is never giving up. The only faith we have is faith in us.” The gospel of humanism.
03. Ghost Beach – Been There Before
Record: Modern Tongues
Artist Link: http://www.ghostbeachmusic.com/
This is pure electronic goodness. Almost too much as it waves you through the summer. Comically, the one time I can’t describe a song as haunting the band has “ghost” in the title. But they do have beach, and “Been There Before” is the kind of song robots would play volleyball to in the sand. Or cyborgs. I don’t particularly enjoy the idea of solar robots. Feels like it defeats the purpose in my electronic brain. I swear, I love this song. I guess it’s hard to talk about when it’s cold outside and the song reminds me of loving summer. Speaking of summer…
02. How Sad – Indian Summer
Record: Indian Summer EP
Artist Link: https://www.facebook.com/howsadmusic
This song does terrible things to me emotionally. It simultaneously makes me happy and morose. The name of this Montreal outfit is pretty apt but there’s no denying when those high notes sing about making it an Indian summer it’s hard to stay sad. But you’ll still be sad. No song has pulled such polarizing emotions on every line so well. It’s weaved perfectly.