With 2014 right around the corner and my obsession with music showing no signs of slowing down, I thought it might be prudent to put together a list of my favorite songs from 2013. I should note that the songs on this list weren’t necessarily released in 2013, but 2013 happens to be the year I enjoyed them most, and isn’t that the point of any song? If that’s a problem, feel free to not read any further, but know this: you’ll be missing out. (You probably won’t be, but for the sake of my ego, let’s just pretend you are.)
Let’s get started.
Actually, you know what? I might list a song, I might list an entire album and pick one song from that album to represent it. DON’T CALL ME WORTHLESS, I’M TRYING MY BEST.
Queens of the Stone Age: “…Like Clockwork”
I’ll admit, I haven’t always been a big fan of QOTSA. I’ve always respected their music, but some of their albums are incredibly uneven; for every incredible song, there is another song that’s so weird and abstract that it detracts from the great tracks on their albums. “…Like Clockwork” has moments like that, but they’re a lot fewer and further between than on previous albums, which is a step in the right direction, I think. Maybe they’re not being as “conceptually daring” as on prior albums, but they’re a lot more “fun to listen to” on this one, and “Smooth Sailing” is a great example. I’ll avoid breaking down exactly what I like about the song since that’s kind of subjective, but you have to love a track that features the lyric “I blow my load over the status quo, herewego.” Josh Homme is the fucking man.
Other suggested songs by QOTSA: “Kalopsia,” “If I Had A Tail,” “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer,” “Monster In The Parasol.”
Savages: “Shut Up”
I had never heard of this band until a couple of months ago, when my friend Harley got us tickets to see them at Terminal 5. For those of you who are unfamiliar with music venues in New York City (and shame on you), Terminal 5 is a shitty venue in Midtown. How is it shitty? Well, picture a rectangle. Now, take one of the short sides off (that’s where the stage is) and imagine trying to find a good sight line anywhere except the first 10-15 rows directly in front of the stage. Now imagine there are multiple floors of this, but keep in mind that on every floor above ground level, you can’t see anything unless you’re standing directly against the railing. Now imagine that even though there are only 3 levels, one of them is always closed for “VIP access.” Got all that? Now imagine paying $8 for a bottle of Bud Light. Terminal 5 is the worst.
But yeah, Savages. All-girl band, tons of energy, phenomenal musicians all around. This song starts with an intro, so fast forward to about the 0:40 second mark if you want to skip it. It’s a fantastic track.
The Walkmen: “The Rat”
I got to see The Walkmen this past summer at Firefly, and I was thoroughly impressed with their live performance. It sucks that they broke up, especially since I just started getting into their music. WAIT UNTIL I GET TIRED OF YOU BEFORE YOU BREAK UP, BANDS. “The Rat” has a lot more of an edge to it than some of their newer stuff, which I think is why I like it so much. It’s also an excellent breakup/shitty-weather song, which I’m sure will come in handy for you soon. Because your significant other is leaving you.
Other suggested songs: “Postcards From Tiny Islands,” “Heartbreaker.”
Arctic Monkeys: “Fireside”
I think I’ve gone into sufficient detail regarding my Arctic Monkeys fandom. (This is normally where I’d provide a link to that article, but I wrote it, like, last week, and I don’t update this blog all that often. You should be able to find it.)
Other suggested Arctic Monkeys songs: All of them.
Justice: “New Lands”
I know Justice gets a lot of shit for sounding like a watered-down Daft Punk, but this song is awesome. And the breakdown halfway through? Just magical.
Broken Bells: “Holding On For Life”
I’ve been waiting for the second Broken Bells album ever since they released the last one, and if this song is any indication, their sophomore album is going to be goddamned wonderful. For those of you who’ve never heard of Broken Bells: get out. I SAID OUT.
Broken Bells is comprised of James Mercer (best known as the frontman for The Shins and for a cameo on “Portlandia”) and Danger Mouse (best known for his Beatles/Jay Z mashup “The Grey Album” and for being one half of Gnarls Barkley.) They make wonderful music, and that’s all there is to it.
Other suggested Broken Bells songs: “The Ghost Inside,” “October,” “Vaporize,” “The Mall and Misery.”
Toro y Moi: “Say That”
Toro y Moi is a guy named Chaz Bundick who makes awesome beats. I’ve also previously stated my appreciation for individuals who give themselves band names even when the “band” is just them, so that’s really all the convincing you should need.
Other suggested Toro y Moi songs: “Still Sound,” “New Beat,” “Go With You,” “Low Shoulders.”
Washed Out: “New Theory (RAC Mix)”
Washed Out is awesome, and RAC does amazing remixes of indie songs. The combination of the two? Orgasmic.
Other suggested Washed Out songs: “Feel It All Around,” “Amor Fati.”
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: “Windows”
I saw BRMC at Terminal 5, and I was pretty disappointed with their performance. It was one of those uneven shows, where every good, hard-driving song was followed by a ballad; to make matters worse, they didn’t play my favorite song. AND it was at Terminal 5. They actually finished their set with “Windows,” which totally pissed me off (you’ll understand when you listen to it- who ends a set on a ballad and then doesn’t do an encore?!) After my disappointment subsided, though, I gave it another listen, and now it’s one of my favorite songs of theirs. The moral of the story: I’m terribly closed-minded.
Other BRMC song suggestions: “Six Barrel Shotgun,” “Weapon of Choice,” “Teenage Disease,” “Conscience Killer,” “Stop.”
I think I’ve said all that needs to be said about Kavinsky.
Other suggested Kavinsky songs: “Blizzard,” “Rampage,” “Odd Look,” “Pacific Coast Highway,” “Suburbia.”
Black Strobe: “I’m A Man”
Remaking a Muddy Waters song with a heavy-metal/industrial sound? Yes, please.
Sinkane: “Jeeper Creeper”
Sinkane is the solo project of Ahmed Gallab, who has worked with Of Montreal and Yeasayer, among others. I saw him at Mercury Lounge, and guess who else was there? Haley Joel Osment. Yep, THAT Haley Joel Osment. I’ll give you a moment to recover. (Side note: he’s kind of a squirrelly dude. Go figure, right?)
The Drums: “Money”
The rest of their album kinda sucks, but this song is great.
And last but not least:
The Sonics: “Have Love, Will Travel”
The opening riff alone should make you fall in love with the song. If you don’t, then I don’t know what decisions led you to this point in your life, but I just feel sorry for you.
So that’s it: my list of favorite songs of the year. Happy New Year, everyone.