Favorite Music of 2013: Songs #40–31

Already posted: Introduction, Albums


Just missed the list (alphabetical):
Beware of Darkness “Howl”
The Boxer Rebellion “Diamonds”
The Civil Wars “The One That Got Away”
The Features “This Disorder”
Foals “My Number”
Moon Taxi “The New Black”
Portugal. The Man “Purple Yellow Red and Blue”
Smallpools “Dreaming”
Switchfoot “Who We Are”

40. Big Data “Dangerous”
Album: 1.0 (EP)
Videos: Interactive site, Album version

If you describe your group as a “paranoid electronic pop music duo,” you have immediately caught my interest. “Dangerous” is a catchy tune over a distorted bass line that drives the song, and as you might guess from their name (and certainly the “facehawk” video, which I recommend trying), technology is the driver of that paranoia.

39. Wild Cub “Thunder Clatter”
Album: Youth
Videos: Album version with lyrics, Live version

The live video will give you a sense of all the percussion going on in this song. The vocals are just OK to me, but it’s still incredibly catchy as a whole.

38. New Politics “Harlem”
Album: A Bad Girl in Harlem
Videos: Official video, Live version

This song is bound to end up on a guilty pleasures list at some point, but it definitely belongs in the top 40 for me this year. It’s one of those hands-in-the-air-clapping type pop/rock songs.

37. James Blake “Retrograde”
Album: Overgrown
Videos: Official video, Live version

There are at least three, or maybe four or five, albums among the 2013 Mercury Prize nominees that I preferred to Blake’s eventual winner Overgrown, but “Retrograde” is still a pretty excellent song. His voice is excellent—I just prefer singers who attempt to limit the runs and other things that distract from the melody.

36. The Almost “Fear Inside Our Bones”
Album: Fear Inside Our Bones
Videos: Official lyric video

The title track from The Almost’s 2013 release builds to a soaring, screaming conclusion for the chorus. We all feel that fear inside our bones, but how will we respond to it?

35. St. Lucia “Elevate”
Album: When The Night
Videos: Official video, Live version

“Elevate,” and most of the St. Lucia album in general, feels like some kind of reggae/latin cross. Generally this might not be my style, but the strong rhythm and bass is what keeps this song interesting for me after multiple listens, since the lyrics are kind of light.

34. White Denim “Distant Relative Salute”
Album: Corsicana Lemonade
Videos: Live version (camera phone)

There is so much going on in the song that the drummer sounds like he is half a beat ahead of everyone else, but in a good way. It’s exactly the kind of song you’d expect a jam-oriented band to release for a single, although they haven’t released it yet to my knowledge, or even performed it for any kind of studio-quality live recording (like most of what is linked in this post). Regardless, it certainly hits all the right notes. I’m hoping White Denim will get more alternative airplay in 2014—they certainly deserve it for this song and album, which places another song higher on this list.

33. Vampire Weekend “Step”
Album: Modern Vampires of the City
Videos: Official lyric video, Live version (after “Diane Young”)

Arguably the most creative song on the Modern Vampires album from a lyrical standpoint, “Step” doesn’t pack quite enough punch for me musically to be among the very best overall.

32. Franz Ferdinand “Love Illumination”
Album: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
Videos: Official video, Live version

The line that always strikes me in this song is the first line of the second verse, about the “Blackpool bright light.” I’ve never been to England, so I have (perhaps dangerously) relied on my Premier League fandom for what little knowledge I have of English cities. Blackpool is a tourist trap–type town in the English northwest, so I guess you could substitute in the name of any number of similar US beach cities to understand the idea.

31. TV on the Radio “Mercy”
No album release
Videos: Official video, Live version

“Mercy” was a one-off single from between-albums TV on the Radio, and it has proven to be one of their more accessible songs for me. The video for this one gives some excellent visuals to the conflict described in the song. Live? Not so great, although Letterman is clearly a fan in the clip I’ve linked.

Next up: Songs #30–21


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s