Best Songs of 2013 (So Far): Group 4, The Harbingers

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.

Our fourth group comes from a cadre of artists who are set to release some of the best albums of the latter half of 2013. These are the pick of the pre-release singles of 2013.

Julianna Barwick
Nepenthe (out 8/20 on Dead Oceans)
Brooklyn, NY

The Louisiana-born ambient-leaning composer traveled to Iceland to craft the follow-up to her celestial debut masterpiece, The Magic Place (2011). Teaming up with Sigur Ros-collaborator Alex Somers, Nepenthe is a stirring tribute to a late family member. It’s the kind of truly living, breathing sonic portrait that can only be painted by an artist who is prodigiously gifted — both technically and affectively.

Shy Girls
“Under Attack” (The-Drum Remix)
TBA (out sometime this year)
Portland, OR

Shy Girls’ are led by PDX-based vocalist/guitarist Dan Vidmar, and their debut single is an slow-burning scorcher. Though I generally stay away from remixes on these lists, the Chicago-based production duo’s take is very true to the slow jam source material, adding only minor synth flourishes and a touch of sax. Though we don’t have much more information about it, if the group’s LP is half as good as its lead single, it’s going to be special. Also, that RuPaul sample tho.

“Untitled” (Days of Our Lives)
Guelph, Ontario, CA 

Though there hasn’t been any official news, it feels like awesome things are afoot at Memoryhouse HQ. My favorite dream-poppers released this single early this year and seem to be getting close to announcing a follow-up their masterful debut EP The Years and last year’s underrated The Sideshow Effect. Whether or not a new album is in the works, this little gem is reminiscent of the sleepy majesty of The Years, which couldn’t be better news. My breath is officially bated.

London Grammar
“Metal & Dust”
TBA (out sometime this year)
London, UK

When the youthful trio dropped their debut single “Hey Now,” it was a little too good. Some were suspicious that a group that young with such a fully-formed sound (affecting indie-soul) and such a sharp aesthetic (THAT hair) was the product of some dastardly A&R test-tube (see: Del Rey, Lana). But as the months have gone on, the brilliant singles have kept piling up — four, to be exact — and at this point, we have no choice but to get excited for the young band’s limitless potential.

TBA (out this year on 4AD)
Vienna, AUT

The mercurial, London-born/Vienna-based experimental R&B artist has been kicking around for a while now. Seemingly out of nowhere, he dropped this hypnotizing lament and announced that he had signed to 4AD. “Bloodflows” is all about mood and almost works like a good M. Night Shyamalan flick. The meat of the song is an enjoyable, fairly tepid build-up, that is taken to the next level by a mesmerizing twist at the end.

Julia Holter
Loud City Song (out 08/19 on Domino)
Los Angeles, CA 

It’s going to be tough for the 28 year-old to top her stunning 2011 LP, Ekstasis, but Loud City Song got off to a strong start with its alluring first single. Holter’s expressive voice is somehow both dramatic and understated, and it is exquisitely framed by a typically powerful arraignment from the classically-trained composer. Definitely one of my most anticipated albums of the year.

Pure Bathing Culture
Moon Tides (out 8/19 on Partisan)
Portland, OR

Everything that this fanciful duo does simply sounds beautiful. It sounds trite, but it’s true. Daniel Hindman’s reverb-drenched, arpeggiated guitars. Sarah Versprille’s delicately powerful, Beach House-ish vocals. Those sweeping, windswept melodies. Last year’s lovely, dreamy debut EP really got under my skin, and I can’t wait to hear what they can do over 10 to 12 tracks. Roll on August 19.

The Bones of What You Believe (out 09/23 on Glassnote)
Glasgow, SCO

A little bit like the aforementioned London Grammar, this Scottish electro-pop trio just released excellent single after excellent single. This, the fourth and most recent of said singles, is a perfect example of what they do so well. Bubbly siren Lauren Mayberry gets her Robyn on over a razor-sharp synth line, compliments of Iain Cook and Martin Doherty. Then comes the typically unstoppable chorus with its nuclear hook, and Voilá, you’ve got a song you want to listen to again and again.

Jacques Greene
“On Your Side” (f/ How to Dress Well)
On Your Side EP (out now on LuckyMe)
Montreal, QUE

If How to Dress Well’s Tom Krell wasn’t such a good composer, he could really make a living by just singing hooks for other artists (think: an indie Nate Dogg). His distressed falsetto vibes incredibly well with the talented Canadian producer’s engulfing keys and syncopated percussion. It would be fascinating to see what these guys could do together for an entire album, but until then, this will do.

Music for Objects (out now on Paper Bag)
Montreal, QUE

For a dude who deals mostly in instrumentals, rising producer/pianist Michael Silver always says a mouthful. 2012’s Exercises was a flawless victory of sonic storytelling, and its follow-up is no different. Grabbing inspiration from inanimate objects in the world around him, Music for Objects is full of affecting, experimental pieces like this one. I sometimes find myself hoping that he’ll experiment more with vocals (namely, his own warm voice), but when you can say this much with a keyboard, who needs ’em?

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

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