Best Songs of 2013 (So Far): Group 3, Great Song /// Great Album

And just like that, 2013 is half over. In short, it was an incredible six months of music, and as I do around here, I decided to round up all my favorite songs of the last six months. Instead of putting them all out at once, I’ve decided to group them in five groups of ten(ish), and roll them out one-by-one this week and next. For all of our sakes, I’m going to keep my write ups short and sweet.

The third group on the list features the highlights of some of the best albums of the year. It’s been an incredibly strong year for LPs, and these are some of their finest moments.

Deptford Goth
Life After Defo (Merok)
London, UK

Let’s kick things off with the stand-out from one of my favorite albums of the year. Part-time schoolteacher Daniel Woolhouse’s emotive, down-tempo R&B masterclass, Life After Defo, is an album, rather than a collection of singles. However, “Union” works on its own, thanks to Woolhouse’s warm, vulnerable vocals and its stirring crescendo. Above all else, hopefully it will inspire you to listen to the whole album, as it is an understated gem.

Seabed (R&S)
Surrey, UK

Though this astral, nostalgic beauty was technically released late last year, I decided to save it for this year, as I wanted to hear it in the context of the album, which came out in April. Five months on, it’s still exceedingly easy to get lost in the trio’s heady dream-pop/R&B/electronica hybrid and Lewis Rainsbury’s mesmerizing, restless tenor. Seabed will probably end the year in my Top 10.

Local Natives
Hummingbird (Frenchkiss)
Los Angeles, CA

On the Silver Lake-based quartet’s consistently excellent sophomore LP, vocalist Kelcey Ayer’s weaves a heartbreaking tribute to his late mother. One of the most heartrending pieces put to wax this year, it’s that rare song that not only helps you understand his reality, but also hits home. It’s the kind of song that makes you call your family and tell them you love them.

If You Leave (4AD)
London, UK

This year, very few albums got under my skin like the angsty trio’s debut LP. If You Leave‘s cathartic, jilted break-up folk made me feel like I was back in middle school, brooding over some random girl/watching Empire Records 471 times per week. It may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but after a quick listen, you’ll get what I mean.

“Let’s Kiss”
After Dark 2 (Italians Do It Better)
Portland, OR

Chromatics/Glass Candy/Desire/Symmetry mainman Johnny Jewel can do no wrong at the moment. His label’s follow-up compilation to 2007’s epic After Dark is 78 minutes of pure (FREE!) electro magic, with the moody, exquisitely-crafted “Let’s Kiss” serving as the centerpiece. Get into the groove.

Cloud Boat
Book of Hours (Apollo)
London, UK

Sam Rickets and Tom Clarke’s criminally underrated (Pitchfork couldn’t even be bothered to review it) debut LP strikes a devastating balance between electronic lap-pop and organic instrumentation. The aqueous “Dréan” proves they are much more than a poor man’s James Blake, with Clarke’s distant, expressive vocal gliding over a brooding, arpeggiated guitar. Impeccable.

Laura Marling
“When Were You Happy? (And How Long Has that Been)”
Once I Was An Eagle (Virgin)
London, UK

Picking a favorite from the 23 year-old’s stunning fourth LP was probably toughest task of any album on this list. I could have gone with a number of tracks, but I went with this one, thanks to her incredible, expressive guitarwork and heartfelt songwriting. She sings and plays with the wisdom someone twice her age. A true one-off.

Daft Punk
“The Game of Love”
Random Access Memories (Columbia)
Paris, FRA

The backlash against the house legends’ fourth studio album was as predictable as Dwight Howard approaching free agency like a famished fat kid choosing between cotton candy and popcorn. Haters be damned because Random Access Memories is a brilliant homage to the disco that Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo grew up loving. I could have chosen a number of tracks, but I went with this mock turtleneck of computer luvvv, partially because it reminds me so much of one of my favorite ever DP tracks, “Something About Us.”

“Borderline” (f/ Jesse Kivel)
Hanging Gardens (Innovative Leisure)
Los Angeles, CA

After making their name as DJs in the LA area, childhood friends Michael David and Tyler Blake released a string of incredible remixes over the last couple of years. While a lot of producers struggle to make the jump from remixes to originals (especially in LP format), the Angelinos didn’t seem to bat an eye, and Hanging Gardens is chock-full of sunny, Balearic-tinged drop-top jams with just a touch of melancholy. Featuring an assist from Kisses and Princeton frontman Jesse Kivel, the album’s second single is a moody direct hit.

Majical Cloudz
“Childhood’s End”
Impersonator (Matador)
Montreal, QUE

This year, the confessional Canadian duo — vocalist Devon Welsh and musician Matthew Otto — delivered the album they’ve been hinting at for the last couple of years. Led by Welsh’s cathartic lyrics and dominating baritone, “Childhood’s End” weaves an engulfing tale of innocence lost.

“Major Minor Love”
Woman (Polydor)
Los Angeles, CA

In the digital age, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find albums match a cohesive theme with a consistent aesthetic, but Mike Milosh and Robin Hannibal’s debut LP ticked both boxes (theme: sex, aesthetic: sexy). For that reason, it’s tough to pick a stand-out, so I went with this coital cooer, combining Milosh’s elegiacally seductive vocal and Hannibal’s twinkling, alluring piano.

Dean Blunt
“Imperial Gold” (f/ Joanne Robertson)
The Redeemer (Hippos in Tanks)
London, UK

Jese Rodriguez ex-Hype Williams mastermind, Dean Blunt, is one of pop music’s truly delightful weirdos. On this dreamy cut, he teams up with rising folkie, Joanne Robertson, to form a languid hangover of a love song that shows that the electro-leaning producer refuses to give us what we expect.

The National
“Don’t Swallow the Cap”
Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
Brooklyn, NY

The undisputed kings of indie weave yet another exquisite anthem to stare awkwardly at your shoes to. In short, Trouble Will Find Me is solid album with a handful of songs I will be listening to for the rest of my life. Can’t complain about that…

Posted on by TP1.COM in Best Of '13, Featured

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