List: Top 20 Tracks of 2K13 (1-10).

January 6, 2014

1) Arcade Fire-Afterlife.  

These folks put on a great live performance.

Arcade Fire has been consistantly one of my favorite bands since 2006.  The thing is, I’ve never instantly been in love with a record they’ve put out, my least favorite being their sophomore release, “Neon Bible.”  Usually what happens is I’ll be wrapped up in a particular mood or emotion and I’ll happen to put on the record, something I’ve listened to a dozen times by this point, and it will strike a chord (an emotional chord, bro!).  Their new album was no different for me, although I was very much looking forward to their collaboration with James Murphy as producer of the album.  Arcade Fire will often write songs that deal with heavy emotions but packaged in raw, uptempo tracks fit for the dance floor.  Earlier tracks featured almost indistinguishable yelling rather than singing and “4 on the floor” dance rhythms making the often melancholy subject matter digestible in a very uplifting and therapeutic way.  They’ve since calmed down and refined their approach, but Arcade Fire’s best tracks will still often follow this basic aesthetic.

2) Kvelertak-Bruanne Brenn  

I LOVE John Baizley’s artwork

It takes a LOT for me to get excited about a metal band nowadays.  These guys did it.  Congrats.  I actually already sent the band their official pair of alongthlelinesof commemorative jean shorts.  I haven’t heard back from them yet.  Kvelertak is a Norwegian metal band that takes a page from a variety of influences, most prominently black metal and punk rock.  They burst onto the scene with their self-titled release in 2011 and quickly developed a buzz in both the metal and indie rock worlds, with generally favorable reviews.  Most often times with contemporary metal acts, the decision is made to pursue either a campy or overly serious tone, appealing to both parties within the metal scene.  Kveletak was successful outside the scene because they work outside of traditional metal archetypes and their no apologies approach to having fun making music.

 3)  Kanye West-Black Skinhead.

(Sorry, I couldn’t find any images of Kanye on the internet.)

This track is the closest thing to a single on the new Kanye album and the fact that it’s titled “Black Skinhead” should tell you about how concerned Kanye was with creating radio friendly singles.  While I find it interesting that he deliberately plays the anti-hero in an attempt to rebel against the pop culture audience that he loves pissing off, it’s even more interesting that it further solidifies his place as a pop superstar.  The fact is, that once Kanye stops doing ridiculous shit, he stops being relevant.  Anyways, the track is a banger.

4)  Deafheavan-Dream House.

“Bro, do you even… oh wait, you’re good because metal.”

This group generated tons of crossover buzz this year on their post-metal release, “Sunbather,’ one of my favorite albums released this year.

5)  Classixx-All You’re Waiting for.

Party jam of the year.  See?

6)  Daft Punk-Giorgio by Moroder.

“Ben, you WOULD pick a favorite song off the new Daft Punk album that wasn’t the single.”  Seriously.  This track, to me, embodies what the new album was all about, which was to pay homage to the disco influences that made Daft Punk’s electronic music so great.  But more importantly, the studio musicians on this track absolutely kill it.

7)  Smith Westerns-3AM Spiritual.

Seriously, I feel like I should be stealing their lunch money not sobbing in public with my headphones on.

I have a hard time listening to music like this made by people younger than me, but god dammit, these guys just nailed it.  If you’re into that reverb soaked beach boys sound with heartbreaking lyrics, you’ll like this.

 8)  Nine Inch Nails-Came back haunted.

“BRO, do you even… hey, you know what? He actually might.”

A lot of bloggers are too cool to include Trent Reznor on their list.  Not this one.  While Reznor will probably never capture the same amount of appeal that he did in the 90s, it’s cool to see that he’s still learning and trying new things after all these years.  And you know what, he’s still got the pipes to accompany the production.  I am definitely interested in where is music career takes him next.

9)  Nail-God’s Cold Hands.

Just brutal.  So brutal.

10) Youth Lagoon-Mute.

Youth lagoon is a musical project of a 23 year old Ohio musician, Trevor Powers.  His first record, a home recorded, sparsely produced project drenched in reverb boosted Powers’ project to indie buzz band status in 2011.  On this album, the project is given a production makeover with wonderfully strange results.  I really love when this song shifts gears into a sort of a drugged out breakdown.  Great music for chillaxing which is a mixture of both chilling and relaxing for those who aren’t in the know.

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