Saturday, December 7, 2013

Top 100 Best Songs of 2013: PART ONE (#81--100)

Finally, the songs list and after the Grammy nominations last night, you realize that some of those acts are here as well. Weird year because up until late November, I wasn't sure I'd have 100 songs for this list. It hasn't been the greatest year for popular music but after digging through the offerings, the list emerged. Great year for hip/hop---eight of the top ten songs covered by the genre. Kendrick Lamar led the way with five awesome tracks, with Danny Brown not far brehind with four.

So, without further ado, here is part one, I call it the club edition...

81. Subtle (Active Child feat. Mikky Ekko): the closest thing Grossi has done that’s relatively dance-pop worthy. The tune leans hard on aggressive 1980s synth-pop textures, with vocalist Mikky Ekko on hand to deliver some full-throated forcefulness contrasting with Grossi's always-floating falsetto.

82. God’s Love To Deliver (Jim James): a surreal effort slurred with a dreamy vocal push that works itself into quite a fit as ode to Martin Luther King Jr…which might escape you as you take in its beauty.

83. Attracting Flies (AlunaGeorge): continuing their pop explorations, the band hijacks a straight pop groove with a flute of all things and infectious doo-wop vocal assertions.

84. Imagine It Was Us (Jessie Ware): regrouping for another winning collaboration with hot producer Julio Bashmore, this slinky ’90s-style club track is the soul singer at her most fun.

85. Doin’ It Right (Daft Punk feat. Panda Bear): you can’t really go wrong once Panda Bear joins in and inspite of the reportedly difficult recording conditions of the track, here is the clear stand-out from Daft Punk’s vastly overrated new album. Doin’ It Right is a four minute jam of the band providing an infectious line while Panda Bear infuses a restrained yet trademark genius turn. The two aesthetics gel instead of being conflict manifest.

86. The Apple (V.V. Brown): easily the most accessible song ever from Brown, The Apple has a distinctly retro ‘80s flair, something this former model could definitely sashay down a runway to and strut around fiercely about.

87. Street Of Dreams (Frankie Rose): maybe Rose needed to do a cover of The Damned’s Street Of Dreams after all for me to get into her. As someone who felt she got unwarranted critical love, it’s nice to finally be able to join in the praise. There are so many standout sections here--the peaceful coos, the harmonizing chorus—but finally Rose isn’t hiding her voice behind production anymore, that’s the best plus.

88. Voices (Soft Metals): a song that’s been around in some form at least three years now but the remix’s use of analogue synths gives it the right levels of girly seductive pull needed to rock the clubs. The great thing about this hypnotic beat is that even with headphones you can enjoy its evey subtle and superb detail.

89. Melody Calling (The Vaccines): wistful guitars and a clean, two-tiered chorus was pure bliss, and the Vaccines’ trademark energy was there in the steady, propulsive rhythm.

90. Wraith (Peace): song about falling in love with a prostitute, says Peace frontman Harrison Koisser, something he seems totally ready to rock out about on this lush single.

91. Pretty Boy (Young Galaxy): catchy synth loops from front-woman Catherine McCandless as she meditates on her memories of a former companion - as compellingly as she can muster.

92. Burning Desire (Lana del Rey): it’s been a long twelve months for del Rey as she’s sought and won acceptance by fans and critics alike. Now her eagerness to please has taken a new twist, one that sees her realizing that newer, younger females are adapting her husky vocals to please also. Here she ups the ante by employing a stunning range to her lovely misery.

93. Anomaly (Doldrums): Airick Woodhead has that weirdly gender-less vocal range that can always find an electronic groove and, like smog, create delicious denseness. Anomaly is sheer glitch pop, the type more utilized by Crystal Castles and, of course, Grimes with its brash, crunchy noise and very chaotic soundscapes.

94. Retrograde (James Blake): the first single from Overgrown, is a straight-up soul crooner where his characteristic production details are still in place, but they're in the service of arrangement rather than disorientation. Those wordless falsetto curlicues recall none other than D’angelo as the snap of the snare suggests that this is the sort of steady pop.

95. XXX 88 (M0 feat. Diplo): Mø (real name Karen Marie Ørsted) is a new Swedish singer that one suspects will blow up next year and this is her introduction to the Americas. Diplo wisely hangs invisibly on the track, painting the landscape with exciting beats while M0 lets loose her searing vocals in all its blissful range.

96. Dropla (Youth Lagoon): Trevor Powers, aka Youth Lagoon, looks geeky, but the romantic poetic type of geek that’ll sit down for van hour and pen an ode to his imaginary girlfriend stating how she’ll, “never die”. And that’s what Dropla is, a gorgeous number that verges on psychedelia and baroque pop. The vocals never register heavily but the sheer insistency is chilling.

97. Defriended (Beck): five years away from the landscape and now Beck gets the hunger again. This is great news for any music lover, even though who “defriended” him from social contact in his hibernation. The bear is back and this electronic paw swipe may be ominous for what’s to come next year.

98. Flashbulb Eyes (Arcade Fire): the group’s choices of source material have gotten more steeped into esoteric questioning with each new record and here, draped over sumptuous guitars, Butler tackles the issue of selfies being used as a way of stealing a person’s soul, or at least giving them the pretense that they have one worth consuming.

99. High Living (Toro Y Moi): a seductive attempt at the new school of R&B, one that Bundwick has toyed with before but finally has delivered on. The beats utterly sizzle as he segues vocally to his deepest levels yet…drugged up on false memories with some chick.

100. Love Illumination (Franz Ferdinand): the text-book instrumentals are always a highlight listening to the group but who knew they had such psychedelic flourishes in their arsenal?