Sunday, December 15, 2013

Top 100 Best Songs of 2013: PART IV (#21--40)

The penultimate set of songs...

21. EVOL (Marina & The Diamonds): sees Marina wielding darkly cynical lines — “It only takes two lonely people to fuck love up and make it evil” she sings on the chorus — with a lyrical conceit that’s clever, if a little too on-the-nose.

22. He’s Seeing Paths (Parquet Courts): runs to over seven minutes long and is told from the perspective of Savage as he wanders the streets of New York, through Chinatown and over the bridge, his “eyes going side to side, scanning for haters” over a minimal looped beat.

23. I’ve Seen You Crying (Divino Nino): when the band tears into the second couplet, the doo-wop of the 1950s comes alive in a very modern, stylistic way. Not many bands have perfected this juxtaposition but Divino Nino has.

24. Nosetalgia (Pusha T feat. Kendrick Lamar): the two unravel sprawling verses over a beat lean enough that the guitars that slice through echo out into some seemingly pitch-black night around the rappers. Mix in a sample from Boogie Down Productions, which sounds like KRS-One putting his blessing on the track, and you’ve got one of the purest lyrical gems of 2013.

25. Kids Get Away (Jamaican Queens): Jamaican Queens make exactly the kind of music that incorporates thick harmonies, grooving drums, Passion Pit-esque electronic guitar sounds, and somehow a fundamental Americana-sounding songwriting, like a bluegrass band just decided to branch out into making electronic noise-rock.

26. Gravez (Hooded Fang): the opening line is about being covered in ash from burning graves-- paired with an assault of fuzzed out guitars, belligerent drums, and a buzzsaw bassline. Things just get louder from there…thank God.

27. Mirrors (Justin Timberlake): with its mix of a beat-boxed rhythm and tight string arrangements, it’s completely geared for an arena-sized, love-conquers-all message: opening with a swelling organ and electric guitar and featuring multi-tracked vocals that sound like a crowd or choir singing behind him.

28. Sacrilege (Yeah Yeah Yeah): Wailing about an angelic-seeming yet forbidden love, Karen O's voice has a tender quality, and Nick Zinner's guitar stomps and pirouettes around her with prickly aplomb.

29. Kalopsia (Queens Of the Stone Age): the moon-age-day-dreamy verses of the song are deviously upended by a Ziggy Stardust-covered crunch and lightness of foot.

30. You Feel So Lonely, You Could Die (David Bowie): a stunning return to his forlorn, animated self. No one has ever done ballads as expertly as Bowie and this recent gem is no different.

31. Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter (Chelsea Wolfe): consists of some of her most upbeat moments recorded, Wolfe pulls of some pretty mean melancholy in steady acoustic…as if she was no longer the reigning goth chick around.

32. Mind Mischief (Tame Impala): Kevin Parker knows his band is currently hitting that electronic sweet spot most bands can only dream of. He sees his songs as blank canvases rather than boxed-in verse/chorus structures while emphasizing fluidity, constant motion, and textural evolution.

33. Worldmade (Tanya Morgan): reaches for a surprising classical blend of warm, cascading strings and bombastic, radiant horns after laying a smooth track with this understated rap masterpiece.

34. Gun-Shy (Grizzly Bear): The band’s tightly-coiled harmonies find another winner, this time wrapping a huge vocal combo around some surfer pop sentimentalism.

35. Smang Life (The Doppelgangaz): a throwback to two decades earlier but the duo time their action to dreamy perfection, causing heads to nod in deep appreciation.

36. Play by Play (Autre Ne Veut): though R&B has rallied through some soulful efforts of late, nothing has prepared us for this white hipster fueling the genre with 1980s bad hair vibe. It shouldn’t work but thank God he didn’t play by the rules.

37. On Blue Mountain (Foxygen): a result of many spins of 70s Bowie and The Velvet Underground, Foxygen’s masterpiece stretches its groovy intent into every available sound bite, teaching Pop Levi the lesson he stopped noting two years ago.

38. Cat & Mouse (Radkey): driven by the sheer force of drummer Soloman Radke, Can & Mouse takes cues from modern bands like Queens Of The Stoned Age to produce a punk classic that raises far for questions than answers.

39. Diane Young (Vampire Weekend): apes Elvis Prestley’s youthfulness without blushes, adding a modern twist to Cobain’s angst over teen restlessness. This is a surprising risk that pays off for the band as its brilliant swagger has eluded Koenig thus far in his career.

40. Master Hunter (Laura Marling): Marling turns hurt into a very convincing show of feminism and self-empowerment. Like Fiona Apple before her, she has mastered the art of sounding simultaneously calm and royally pissed off.

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