Thursday, December 12, 2013

Top 100 Best Songs of 2013: PART III (#41--60)

Here, after a few days delay, is the third part of my list...

41. Kush Coma (Danny Brown feat. A$AP Rocky): by his own account, making it to his 30th birthday was a tremendous accomplishment in and of itself, and Danny's post-XXX deluge of features gave the impression of someone who was trying to make up karmic ground.

42. Ghosts (On and On): a haunting refrain that includes a beautiful ending, (‘I was on the verge to scream/ when you wouldn’t scream/ about anything’. A touching refrain.

43. In The Green Wild (Julia Holter): Holter has always played around with pop whimsy but, here at last, she flings herself head first into it and the thrust is a delightfully unpredictable record. There’s something for Bjork lovers and well as those who worship at Joanna Newsom’s shrine…

44. New Slaves (Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean): The song discusses slavery and segregation as well as racism in general, materialism, and stereotypes of African Americans in the United States in typical Kanye anger. The burst of Ocean’s vocals at the end lifts it into the stuff of greatness.

45. Monomania (Deerhunter): the band returns with their usual wonderfully creepy style and Cox is in form, reminding us that there must be something wrong in his head, but never with his brilliant music.

46. A Tout A L’heure (Bibio): with its looped arpeggio acoustic guitars, hypnotic vocal treatments, and overlaying synthesizers, A Tout a l’heure could literally play on a continuous loop for hours and you would never mind and never want it to end.

47. Body Party (Ciara): drops in a little ‘90s inspiration from Ghost Town DJ’s and ramps up a lot of the slowed down synth, which sounds like a slurred harp, and lets you know that tonight it’s going down, tell your boys it’s going down.

48. Wanderlust (The Weeknd): grooves along at a nice R&B pace, and proves that you can actually dance to a Weeknd track after all. He's a singer who often evokes Michael Jackson, but here, he imitates MJ's craft in more than vocal riffs.

49. Heartbeat + Setbacks (Thundercat): The song contrasts the vulnerability of the lyrics with an arrangement that's pure love-- rapturous coos and horns, a demanding and rewarding rhythmic swing that's just off in a way that it takes colossal amounts of practice to get right.

50. Jane (Popstrangers): makes for an ominous first impression, with a tangled guitar and thudding bass giving way to a, skittering, drum-led verse section that never really finds a stable key and rhythm, periodically collapsing back into the mire, only to rise again.

51. I & I (Protoje): from a casual glance—indeed with its stunning rapid-gun spray lyrics—it’s hard to notice the political implications of I & I but pause at the line, “hear say Audley start drive Audi” and it’ll keep your head ringing right throughout this zinger.

52. Cocoa Butter Kisses (Chance the Rapper feat. Vic Mensa & Twista): that Chance decides to use drawl to bring a point across doesn’t diminish this stunning cry for love and family. When the chorus comes in, then it energizes his effort and then the real genius becomes apparent.

53. Sexxx Dreams (Lady Gaga): Gaga has always blurred the lines with female sexuality and empowerment but here she tries to blend Madonna, Janet Jackson and Prince into one song and somehow comes off as early 90s Mariah Carey instead.—while remaining on point with the songs sheer bisexual intent. Astonishingly, it manages to work, which within itself is some sort of gender equality achievement.

54. Sexodus (M.I.A): the intense humming of bass on a gentle end-of-the-night number that doesn’t seem to serve much purpose other than to signal that Matangi can be sexy if it wants…or its provocateur vulnerable when needed.

55. Line Of Fire (Junip): Line Of Fire reveals itself slowly and builds to a soaring two chord anthem, with pulsing synths and electronics, acoustic undertones and the warm vocals of Jose Gonzalez.

56. Pushing Up Against A Stone (Valerie June): an incredibly strong collaborative songwriting effort between June, Auerbach, Kevin Auguanas, and Richard Swift. Filled with guitar effects no unlike the work of the Black Keys, June has the upmost inspiration to fuel her pipes.

57. Acetate (Volcano Choir): Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) has this is the ability to indulge in extravagant power balladry without taking on the seemingly requisite overblown persona where all this heavy lifting is necessary when you're carrying the weight of the world.

58. Manhattan remix (Cat Power feat. Angel Haze): Ryan Hemsworth presents a sly remix, with Angel Haze adding formidable teeth to the already chill Cat Power ballad. It’s an interesting mix that immediately works.

59. Fool For You (Alice Smith): Smith is not interested in taking your wheel and making it better; she is not, strictly speaking, interested in your wheel at all. Girl just wants to sing out, even if she has to cover a Cee-lo track to do it.

60. Lost (Shad feat. K-Os, Lisa Lobsinger & Ian Kamau): Shad hasn’t really revealed much new with his game as an MC here but he’s still switching up flows, delving deeper into the technical aspects of his craft, and the end result is his most multi-layered performance.