It’s hard to believe that it’s September already. Nine months of the year has passed with a high calibre of amazing music filling our eardrums. Soon it will be time to assess the year in music, but for now, I’ve foraged through the endless parade of exciting new music to give you my top 30 songs of 2013 so far.
30. Riptide – Vance Joy
Melbourne artist Vance Joy burst onto the scene in 2013 after years of small bar gigs and a bunch of EPs. Riptide not only appeased fans of indie folk, but also caught the attention of mainstream radio, which took the sweet tune under its wing, making it one of the biggest local hits of the year.
29. Gun – CHVRCHES
Infectious and dancey, Scotland’s CHVRCHES have created an incredibly fun indie-pop tune that exhibits the sound trends of 2013: synthesises and angelic female vocals.
28. Right Action – Franz Ferdinand
Glasgow’s finest return in 2013 with just the right concoction of swagger and grunge as they once had. It’s been almost nine years since their breakout hit Take Me Out, which took out the top spot on the Hottest 100 of its year. Right Action shares the same funky groove and thrashing euro-rock as Take Me Out, and it signals a return to form for the rockers much to the joy of fans.
27. Dumb Disco Ideas – Holy Ghost!
Produced under James Murphy’s DFA Records, this 8-and-a-half minute long epic might just become the dance anthem of the year. With clear influences from Murphy’s late LCD Soundsystem running through their veins, NYC natives Holy Ghost! drench Dumb Disco Ideas with infectious dance grooves and thumping electronic beats.
26. Beygone – Volcano Choir
Justin Vernon has recently said that Bon Iver will have to step aside whilst he focuses on his ”other” band, Volcano Choir. However Bon Iver fans need not to worry, Volcano Choir’s second album, Repave and lead single Beygone, share the same haunting melodies and droning vocals as Vernon’s previous work with Bon Iver. Truly beautiful stuff.
25. It All Feels Right – Washed Out
Founder of the “chill-wave” movement Ernest Green (who performs under the name Washed Out) has created a catalogue of light and breezy electronic anthems that encapsulate dreams of a perfect summer. It All Feels Around literally swirls around your ears, shining and glistering in the sun, whilst Green‘s vocals are dreamy and trippy. Complete bliss.
24. Entertainment – Phoenix
The French kings of indie pop released their fifth album Bankrupt! early on in the year to a mass of adoring Phoenix fans. It was everything a Phoenix album should be: dancey, mindlessly fun and instantly recognisable. Entertainment was the first single we heard and it gave a clear indication of what to expect from Bankrupt! That is: Asian influences, electronic synths, soaring melodies, glossy production and even a children’s choir.
23. Home – Austra
Kate Stelmanis, founder and lead singer of Toronto’s Austra, sounds like a fallen angel. Her voice is a combination between Florence Welch and Kate Bush, and it soars above the electronic chords, beats and strings of Home. Simply exquisite and bizarrely alien, but beautiful all the same.
22. Jessica (Feat. Ezra Koenig) – Major Lazer
Major Lazer’s music is not something I would usually listen to (although I really loved his 2012 hit Get Free), but his collaboration with Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend is wonderfully trippy and grainy yet it’s also sunny and romantic. Also, it makes you really wish that your name was Jessica.
21. Fear of My Own Identity – Best Coast
Bethany Cosentino is the Queen of Summer and loves writing songs about boys, cats and California. Fear of My Own Identity sounds exactly what every other Best Coast song sounds like, but that’s okay. It’s fun and angsty, and makes me really wish I was on a beach in California instead of a house in the suburbs of Melbourne.
20. Mad Sounds – Arctic Monkeys
The dapper lads from Sheffield are back in 2013 with album no. 5 entitled AM. The songs we’ve already heard from it assure us that it’s going to be something truly spectacular. The boys rarely put a foot wrong with their grungy yet classy approach to alt rock, but this softer touch on Mad Sounds is sweet and tender, with Alex Turner’s crooning vocals sounding smooth as silk.
19. Changing of the Seasons – Two Door Cinema Club
Irish three-piece Two Door Cinema Club have become one of the most loved indie bands of recent years. Releasing an EP this year, with it’s title track being Changing of the Seasons, is an interesting move to make. But after last year’s undercooked second LP Beacon, this song is certainly a return to the boppy mindless indie pop we’ve come to expect from the boys.
18. Diane Young – Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend spent three years perfecting their third LP, Modern Vampires of the City, an ode to New York and it’s ghostly residents. The first track we heard was the insanely raucous, rockabilly inspired Diane Young. It’s not a track that pleased everyone, but personally I fell in love with its eccentricities and quirks.
17. Varsity – Smith Westerns
Smith Westerns perhaps created the most blissful and summery album of 2013 in the form of their third LP Soft Will. The lead single Varsity is sunny, romantic, dreamy and beautiful. The track’s dreamlike youthfulness evokes imagery of running down suburban streets as the sun sets on the horizon.
16. Melody Calling – The Vaccines
The last three years have been huge for The Vaccines who helped revive the days of thrashing three-chord alt rock. However, with their latest release they have chosen to steer away from garage rock to a more mature sound. Although it’s completely different from The Vaccines I fell in love with, Melody Calling is charming and chilled out, something I like very much.
15. DNA – Empire of the Sun
Australia’s Empire of the Sun have crowned themselves emperors of electronic dance music with the release of their second album, Ice on the Dune. A clear standout of the album for me is DNA, which returns to the swirling dreamlike electronic sounds of their first album.
14. Harper Lee – Little Green Cars
Dublin band Little Green Cars can be compared to a combination of Coldplay and Arcade Fire, two of the most atmospheric bands of the 2000s. With their soaring harmonies and driving guitars, this tribute to writer Harper Lee is whimsical, joyous and melancholic all at once.
13. If I Had A Tail– Queens of the Stone Age
This super gritty and sex-fueled track from the Kings of desert hard rock had everyone grooving in their seats when it dropped in May this year. With drumming from ex-member Dave Grohl, a spooky outro by Alex Turner and Josh Homme’s sensual “oh La Las”, it’s without a doubt one of the greatest rock songs of the year.
12. I Need My Girl – The National
One of the most beautiful and heartbreaking songs I’ve ever heard, The National’s I Need My Girl is clearly a love song, but more so a plea for forgiveness and nostalgic for times past. The National’s fifth album Trouble Will Find Me is simply exquisite, and an early contender for my favourite album of 2013.
11. Despair – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have the outstanding ability to rouse up a crowd with their epic indie rock anthems. Their fourth LP Mosquito has perhaps the ugliest album cover of the year, but in Despair they have created the biggest indie rock crowd pleaser of 2013. Karen O is an absolutely amazing artist and so effortlessly cool.
10. Step Up For The Cool Cats – Palma Violets
Coming off the success of British garage rock bands such as The Vaccines and Arctic Monkeys, Palma Violets are perhaps closer to The Ramones or The Clash in their sound. Their first single Best of Friends was named NME’s Song of the Year in 2012, and it’s not hard to see why. Palma Violets make really thrilling music and they are certainly a band to get excited over.
9. Sea of Love – The National
Again with The National. I know, you can have too much of a good thing, but honestly Sea of Love is perfect in summing up everything the band stands for. The thumping drums, the gloomy vocals of Matt Berninger, the steely guitars and the scathing social commentary (“What did Harvard teach you?”) are all the reasons you need to fall in love with this great American band.
8. Get Lucky (Feat. Pharrell Williams) – Daft Punk
One of the biggest hits of 2013 on mainstream radio, it’s both happy and sad to know that Daft Punk are finally being recognised as the bizarre ingenious artists that they truly are. Gone is the electronica of Around the World and One More Time, this is new-age French disco pop at its greatest. It’s just a shame that the kids (i.e. people my age) can’t appreciate all that Daft Punk have done for dance music, instead most of them think they just came down from their spaceship over night.
7. Seen It All – Jake Bugg
One of the most promising acts of 2013 is London 19-year-old singer/songwriter Jake Bugg. Barely out of school, he has the wisdom and talent beyond his years. His sound is sort of Bob Dylan crossed with Oasis but with a more grungy edge. Seen It All is a driving observation of small town English life, perhaps one that a lot of people can relate to.
6. Drakkar Noir – Phoenix
My personal highlight of Phoenix’s Bankrupt! came from the blatantly bizarre yet irresistibly likable, Drakkar Noir, named after the horrid men’s perfume. The title is a satire that shames falsity and vanity, and correlates directly with the song’s cryptic chorus of nonsensical words. Laden with Asian inspired synths and bouncy drums it’s insanely fun.
5. All The Time – The Strokes
The Strokes are one of the most celebrated bands of the 21st century. Their new-age brand of alt-rock set up a path for imitations and wannabes, but there will only ever be one true Strokes. Their fifth album Comedown Machine was released quietly in early 2013. The lead single All The Time contains all the classic Strokes elements of piercing guitars and the iconic drones of Julian Casablancas.
4. Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys
This was the first single we heard from AM. It’s a sexy, sleek and (at times) sleazy rock anthem, but nonetheless, completely amazing. The musicianship of these boys has only improved with age, and Do I Wanna Know? exhibits this perfectly.
3. My Number – Foals
Oxford band Foals are the experts in “math-rock” (that is, jumpy guitars and constantly changing time signatures). Their third album Holy Fire was released in February and it quickly became one of my favourite releases of 2013. My Number is pure indie pop heaven, with listener friendly dance beats and an insanely catchy chorus.
2. Finger Back – Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend are geniuses. They have the ability to create diverse albums with songs that capture particular feelings or places perfectly. Finger Back was instantly my favourite track from MVOTC. It displays outstanding musicianship of jumpy beats, Americana organs, driving guitars, distorted vocals that sound more like old Animal Collective and one hell of a spoken word interlude. A near perfect indie-rock song.
1. Whatever Arcade Fire releases at 9pm, on 9/9.
I know. This is unfair. I get it. But my favourite band Arcade Fire are releasing a new album in October and we get the first single from it at 9pm on September 9th. No matter what it is, no matter what it sounds like, I’m sure that the Canadian rockers will have created something absolutely perfect, as usual.
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