Hot Jam of the Day: T-Pain, "Textin' My Ex" (f/ Tiffany Evans)


T-Pain “Textin’ My Ex” (f/ Tiffany Evans) Oblivion Tomorrow, T-Pain drops his long-awaited fifth LP, the culmination of the most trying era of the R&B innovator’s career. Through no real fault of his own, Pain (né Faheem Najm) went from the jolly ringmaster of a multi-million dollar radio empire to a Read more

Images & Words: SOPHIE, "It's Okay To Cry"


SOPHIE "It's Okay to Cry" Digital Single Every once in a while, somebody puts out something that takes your breath away. "It's Okay to Cry" is absolutely one of those moments. After spending her early career lurking behind faceless, chaotic, schizophrenic experimental dance music, the 32 year-old has stepped into the light and up to the microphone. The result is Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: King Krule, "Logos"


King Krule "Logos" The OOZ (out now on XL) Archy Marshall's excellent new album feels like a collection of those wonky dream states that exist somewhere in that nether region between being wake and sleep. Though I'm still digesting all 19 of its songs, the hypnotic, jazzy "Logos" immediately stuck out. Over languid jazz chords Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, "For Robin"


The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die "For Robin" Always Foreign (Epitaph) There are many, many awful things about addiction, but little is as insidious as the way it pushes its victims away from loved ones from their previous life and deeper into their illness. Anybody who has lost someone to Read more

Images & Words: Stormzy, "4PM in London"


Stormzy "4PM in London" Digital Single Turning freestyles into anthems is nothing new to the ultra-talented Londoner. And though the ravenous "4PM in London" was probably written, it feels alive in the same way that many of those aforementioned tracks did. Unlike Drake (the man who originally rapped on this beat), Stormzy's got the rare ability to Read more

Best Of ’13

Best of 2013: The Best Albums of 2013

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1. Deafheaven: Sunbather
Though I grew up a huge fan, I rarely write about metal these days, but the San Francisco duo’s masterpiece is simply too good to ignore. Goregeous isn’t a word commonly used to describe black metal, but Sunbather is anything but common. Guitarist Kerry McCoy’s shoegaze-inspired melodic mastery is the perfect companion to George Clarke’s ravenous vocals and the group’s relentless blastbeats. In short, it’s an astonishing, engulfing 7-song set that firmly places the group at the top of the burgeoning American black metal scene.

Hottest Jams: “Dream House, ” “Irresistible”

2. Mark Kozelek & Desertshore: Mark Kozelek & Desertshore
The former Red House Painter is one of the most reliable artists around, consistently trickling out his signature moody slowcore, like only he can. 20 years on from the seminal self-titled Red House Painters, Kozelek hasn’t run out of stories to tell, intricate guitar-parts to pick, and people to piss off. Like much of his recent work, it focuses on finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, and he turns tales of nights spent watching boxing, strolls down the Great Highway, and conversations with his Dad about late night TV into incredibly insightful ruminations on what really matters. It’s an album that nobody really talked much about this year, but it sure has a hell of a lot to say.

Hottest Jams: “Mariette,” “Brothers”

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Best of 2013: The Hottest Jams of 2013

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60. Slava
“Girl Like Me”
Raw Solutions (Software)
He may have been born in Moscow, but rising producer Slava Balasanov’s sound is pure Chicago. Balasanov moved to Chicago when he was 12, and his impeccably chopped footwork is best highlighted by the frantic-yet-sultry sound of “Girl Like Me.” He laces a barrage of percussion and deep sub-bass swabs over a mantric, Chipmunk-y Ciara sample to absolute perfection, zigging and zagging wildly without ever losing the ever-present syncopated backbeat.

59. Doc Daneeka
“Walk on In” (f/ Ratcatcher)
Walk on In Single (Numbers)
The Berlin producer’s expansive, scorching dance-floor filler is everything a great house cut should be. At first, it bubbles along, sucking you in and setting the mood, and just when you’re ready for a change, it flips it and builds to its crescendo. The runway-ready, diva-licious vocals meld perfectly with the relentless backbeat and undulating synths, resulting in a glorious, throwback club anthem.

58. Mutual Benefit
“Advanced Falconry”
Love’s Crushing Diamond (Other Music)
Nomadic singer-songwriter Jordan Lee has more than a little of the Sufjans about him, and his breakthrough LP is full of the stately, orchestral chamber-folk/pop that made Stevens such a star. “Advanced Falconry” nails the gleeful earnestness-meets-nostalgic melancholy that makes my 21 year-old heart happy and my fingers want to call my friends and tell them how important they are to me. No matter how old I get, I hope I never stop being a sucker for this stuff.

(Read more, after the jump.)
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Best of 2013: The Best Tracks of 2013 (Honorable Mention)

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It’s the time again — time to pick over the bones of an incredible year of music. Over the next few days, I’ll roll out my favorite tracks of the year. Let’s kick things off with 10 songs that didn’t quite make it out of the incredibly crowded field. That said, they absolutely deserve your attention.

Willis Earl Beal: “Too Dry to Cry” from Nobody Knows (XL)
While I’ll never claim to be a great blues historian, I do know that the Chicago-native’s sophomore LP felt as authentic as anything out nowadays. Listening to Beal sing is like watching someone lift a car; it’s a physical experience. You can feel him straining every sinew as he pours his heart into every ravenous come-on, perfectly verbalizing human nature’s most visceral, virile instinct.

Darkside: “Golden Arrow” from Psychic (Other People)
Picking one song off Nicolas Jaar & Dave Harrington’s excellent debut LP feels idiotic, as (like their debut EP) Psychic demands to be heard in one immersive sitting. That said, its 11-minute opener sets a spooky, emulsifying tone for the whole record. Harrington’s delicious, palm-muted guitar line wraps itself around a forlorn falsetto, resulting in a track that is both alluring and unsettling.

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Best of 2013: The Best Mixtapes of 2013

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These days, I’m not even sure what the difference between a mixtape and an album are, but I do know that it was a hell of a year for mixtapes. Here are my picks of a very healthy litter. Be on the look-out for my singles and albums lists. They should be dropping before the end of the year.

10. Caleb James
The Jones
Chicago, IL

Hottest Jams: “Ride With Me,” “24s”

While his associate Chance the Rapper rightfully lapped up the plaudits this year, to my ears, Caleb James’ outstanding The Jones was the real showstopper. Taking cues from the golden sound of the 90’s, the rapper/producer/singer weaves a rare sound that feels simultaneously current and classic. Effortlessly transitioning from a slick tenor to a bouncy flow, his sound is pure 2013 G-Funk, with one man playing both the Warren G and Nate Dogg roles with consummate ease. This is window-down, drive slow music at its finest.

Stream/Download, via Live Mixtapes.

9. Rich Homie Quan
Still Goin In (Reloaded)
Atlanta, GA

Hottest Jams: “Type of Way,” “Differences”

At this point, no one needs to hear 21 tracks of anybody, even an artist as magnetic as the 24 year-old ATLien. Though it could probably be about 10 songs shorter, the high points of Dequantes Lamar’s breakthrough mixtape goes toe-to-toe with nearly anything released this year. While understandable, the Future comparisons are mostly lazy, as the disc establishes RHQ as very much his own man — armed with a ravenous flow, a dogged work ethic, and an fresh perspective. More than anything, Still Goin In (Reloaded) is just so much fun to listen to — as much as any other album released this year — and that has to count for something.

Stream/Download, via DatPiff.

8. 18+
MIXTAPE3
Los Angeles, CA

Hottest Jams: “Crow,” “Trunks”

Doubtlessly one of the strangest releases of the year, the anonymous LA duo’s seductively spectacular LP feels unlike anything else released this year. The subtle, nebulous collection of sparse, bizzaro boner jams were released almost context-free. Coming off a bit like the weirder, nastier cousins of The XX, their work is simultaneously alluring and unsettling. Whoever these sickos are, they absolutely deserve to be heard.

Stream/Download, via Soundcloud.
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Best of 2013: The Best Remixes of 2013

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It’s that time of year again, where I round up my favorite tracks of the year. First up, we’ve got my favorite remixes. Stay tuned for an albums, mixtapes, and singles list.

10. Friends
“The Way” (Blood Orange Re-Edit/Duet)
The Way (Digital Single)

Dev Hynes’ dramatic vocals have always worked best when flanked by a powerful female voice, so his re-work of IRL girlfriend Samantha Urbani’s stunning power ballad is unsurprisingly spectacular. Some have written him off as a cheesy pastiche merchant, but as long as he keeps releasing tracks with this much sincerity, emotion, and ability, I’m willing to look the overlook his imitational tendencies and get swept away by the groove. An duet album beckons….

9. Disclosure
“Voices” (f/ Sasha Keable) (Wookie Remix)
Settle (PMR) 

Though the American press has predictably misclassified the Lawrence brothers’ spectacular debut LP as synth-pop or (even more nauseatingly) as EDM, the Surrey natives have deep roots in UK garage and deep house, which they embrace on this inch-perfect remix from garage legend, Wookie. The vet lends his signature keys and graceful swing to the original, resulting in a track that feels fresh, yet classic. It’s a bit like watching Michael Jordan give Jabari Parker pointers on his jumper, and it’s great to see a young, hot group pay tribute to one of the people who helped shape their sound.

8. Drake
“From Time” (Ruddyp Refix)
Nothing Was the Same (YMCMB)

Though Young Angel’s third LP was a bit of a disappointment, it certainly has its moments, and its probably on par with Yezzus for the most remixed LP of the year. None shone brighter than the Virginia native’s sumptuous take on one of NWTS’ best, overshare-iest cuts. In just five short minutes, Ruddyp takes the reflective original through a startling number of movements, resulting in a track that manages to feel simultaneously erratic and cohesive.

Hear the rest after the jump…..

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Starting V: Favorite Albums of 2013 (So Far)

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Coming off the back of my gargantuan favorite tracks of the year list, here’s a quick rundown of my five fave LPs of the year. The first four picked themselves, but I had a struggle picking out the fifth. The ones that just missed the cut were Grouper’s The Man Who Died in His Boat, Dean Blunt’s The Redeemer, Italians Do It Better’s compilation After Dark 2, Walton’s Beyond, and Cloud Boat’s Book of Hours. All of those come highly, highly recommended. Let’s get into the Top 5.

5. Autre Ne Veut
Anxiety
Software
Brooklyn, NY 

R&B deconstructionist Arthur Ashin’s explosive Software Records debut is full of heartfelt devotionals, relationship postmortems, and unfiltered personal reflections, all set to inch-perfect, progressive pop jams with unexpectedly alluring hooks.

Hottest Jams: “World War,” “Ego Free Sex Free,” “Promises”

4. Deptford Goth
Life After Defo
Merok
London, UK 

With just one listen, it’s clear that the debut LP from British schoolteacher Daniel Woolhouse was made in isolation. Recorded in his apartment, Life After Defo fuses organic, folksy English songwriting (think: Nick Drake) with down-tempo electro (think: James Blake) to devastating effect. Personal storytelling, engulfing arraignments, a direct hit.

Hottest Jams: “Life After Defo,” “Guts No Glory,” “Union”

3. James Blake
Overgrown
Polydor
London, UK 

Like the XX’s second LP, Coexist, the 24 year-old’s sophomore effort has been grossly underrated by the American press. Though the buzz may have faded, make no mistake, Overgrown is an incredible, multi-faceted album — full of Blake’s emotive warble, brainy arraignments, and markedly developed songwriting. Another masterclass from the one of music’s brightest, most versatile artists.

Hottest Jams: “Life Round Here,” “To The Last,” “Retrograde”

2. Deafheaven
Sunbather
Deathwish 

I don’t usually write about metal on Thunder Penguin, but the San Francisco progressive black metal duo’s second LP is simply too stunning to overlook. The group matches exquisitely crafted black metal elements (blast-beats, tremolo picking, screamed vocals) with layers of lush, shoegazey melodies and the life-affirming, triumphant guitarwork of Kerry McCoy. This isn’t a perfect metal album; it’s a perfect album, regardless of genre.

Hottest Jams: “Dream House,” “Sunbather,” “The Pecan Tree”

1. Disclosure
Settle
PMR
London, UK 

I’m sure you all have more important things to do than listen to me wax lyrical about this album for the 4,136,295,637th time. If you still haven’t gotten swept away by it at this point, it’s your fault, not mine.

Hottest Jams: ALL OF THEM.

Best Songs of 2013 (So Far): Group 5, The Top FUCKING Ten

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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.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve rolled out about 40 excellent tracks, but our final group is reserved for the absolute best-of-the-best. Unlike the other lists, this one is in order.

Just a note, Jai Paul’s “Track 7” (his version of Jennifer Paige’s “Crush”) would have topped the list, but it’s been systematically wiped off the Interwebz in recent months. If you can find the album, find it. It’s fucking brilliant.

Now for the Top 10!

10. Autre Ne Veut
“World War”
Anxiety (out now on Mexican Summer / Software)
Brooklyn, NY

I could have picked a handful of tracks from Arthur Ashin’s dizzying, alternative R&B masterclass, but its confessional closer just rises above. While you can never accuse him of holding anything back, the 30 year-old truly lets it all go here, pouring his heart out over the dissolution of a relationship. Though the first half is an unmistakable dirge, the light creeps out in its spellbinding second movement — perfectly mirroring how, in a break-up, the initial devastation slowly turns to the hope and freedom of moving on.

9. The Weeknd
“Kiss Land”
Kiss Land (out 08/27 on XO/Republic)
Toronto, ON

Sometime last year, the party that Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s kept writing about stopped being fun. The lascivious thrills of 2011’s watershed mixtape, House of Baloons, had descended into clichéd aural demerol. He became Ron Burgundy listlessly singing about “coming to the same party for 12 years now.” And goddamn it, it was depressing.  He just sounded exhausted and completely burnt out, something that three mixtapes in one year will probably do to you. After taking some time away, the 23 year-old is refreshed on this devastating return to form, weaving a trademark salacious soliloquy over an swaggering, sprawling two-part arraignment. His tales still “ain’t nothin’ to relate to,” but at least they are fun to hear about again.

8. Vampire Weekend
“Step”
Modern Vampires of the City (out now on XL)
New York, NY

The NYC quartet’s third album is the sound of a band who has grown up and figured out exactly what they are. Its stand-out, “Step,” shatters any notions that their time has came and went. Rooted in a delicious, cascading harpsichord riff, courtesy of mastermind Rostam Batmanglij, Ezra Koenig unleashes his impossibly sweet croon and waxes lyrical about growing up a music obsessive. It’s the kind of inch-perfect, smart-guy pop song that New York City’s likeliest lads have been flirting with for years, and best of all, it came just in time to soundtrack our summer.

7. Kisses
“Huddle”
Kids in L.A. (out now on Cascine)
Los Angeles, CA

The Angelino duo has long been a TP favorite, and though their second album eschews some of their debut’s Balearic influence, Kids in L.A. still features Jesse Kivel’s rock-solid songwriting chops and a newfound melancholic edge. Its highlight, “Huddle,” boasts one of the earworms of the year, as Kivel — in signature ultra-smooth, Arthur Russel-influenced style — implores girlfriend (and keyboard player) Zinzi Edmunson to meet him “in the huddle.” While it’s unclear what that means, it’s the kind of refrain you can’t get out of your head, thanks, in part, to the neon synth swabs and buoyant bassline that surround it. This is summery pop music at its very best.

6. Ciara
“Body Party”
Ciara (out now on Epic)
Atlanta, GA 

About two years ago, Ciara nearly shut down Twitter. However, it wasn’t because of a hit single or a hot performance; it was due to some knee-length boots and booty shorts that she wore to the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. While it was a testament to her incredible (ahem) talents, it was also a sad indictment of a career that seemed destined to never reach its potential.

Fast forward two years, and CiCi is blowing up the blogosphere for all the right reasons. Her highly-anticipated fifth album was a major success, and its first single is as steamy as anything she’s ever decided to wear on her famous lower body. Though she got assists from scorching producer Mike Will Made It and it-rapper (and boyfriend) Future, “Body Party” is all about the 27 year-old ATLien, who channels Janet to scintillating effect. If this doesn’t make you hot under the collar, you don’t have a pulse.

5. Dornik
“Something About You”
Digital Single (out now on PMR)
London, UK

The best thing about the Londoner’s breakout single is that it absolutely came out of nowhere. Who knew that, in his spare time, Jessie Ware’s drummer had a little bit of MJ in him? I am often a victim of hyperbole, but I can’t help but hear some “Human Nature” (one of my five favorite songs EVER) in “Something About You,” no matter how blasphemous that sounds. Of course, this is just his first song, but as far as first impressions go, this one is pretty fucking special.

4. James Blake
“Retrograde”
Overgrown (out now on Polydor)
London, UK 

Brilliant as it is, James Blake’s 2011 debut LP is as insular an album as you’ll find, with tracks and lyrics that heavily leaned toward the esoteric and ambiguous. It was a fascinating conversation, but one that you were eavesdropping on. On Overgrown, the 24 year-old finally turns to us and speaks in a language that we can truly understand.

For that reason, its lead single, “Retrograde,” is a revelation, as not only does Blake let us into his world, he lets us into the most intimate part of that world: his bedroom. It’s the most vulnerable and accesible he’s ever allowed himself to be, and while there’s no way to tell if it will become a pattern, it provides a fascinating look into one of the most talented young musicians on the planet.

3. Disclosure
“When A Fire Starts to Burn”
Settle (out now on PMR)
London, UK

Seeing Disclosure release a debut album as flawless as Settle is a little bit like watching your kid score the perfect hit trick (for non-sports people, that’s 3 goals) in his first ever soccer game. For a band that I’ve watched grow up to have crafted an album this exciting, consistent, diverse, and undeniably current at such a young age is almost incomprehensible.

I could have picked any number of tracks, but I’ll go with its pulsating opener and that explosive Eric Thomas sample. Guy and Howard Lawrence (aged 22 and 19, respectively) dial up their deep house roots and frame the repetitive vocal with an undulating, too-fucking-hype arraignment. It’s just pure, fucking fire. When it comes to music this year, there is nothing I’m more sure about than Settle being my album of the year…and I’d expect it to stay that way.

 

2. Phosphorescent
“Song for Zula”
Muchacho (out now on Dead Oceans)
Athens, GA 

Admittedly, I’ve found it a bit difficult to get into Muchacho as a whole, but I was truly floored by Matthew Houck’s tumbleweed manifesto about doggedly battling through heartbreak then finding and actualizing your own power. Lyrically, it’s a true masterpiece, as the alt-rock/folk vet ruminates on love and loss in four beautifully-written stanzas. There’s nothing that I can say that will better Huock’s prose, so I’ll leave you you to it. Drink it all in.

1. Lil’ Durk
“Dis Ain’t What U Want”
Signed to the Streets (out later this year on Def Jam/Coke Boys)
Chicago, IL

When Chicago drill broke late last year, the thing that was particularly striking about its teenaged leaders (Chief Keef, Lil’ Reese, Fredo Santana, etc) was their dead-eyed, emotionless delivery. They were describing horrifying conditions — basically a cross between Compton in the 90’s and Afghanistan (hence, the nickname Chiraq) — with the chilling nonchalance and callousness of a 60 year-old Vietnam Vet reporting on a tickle war. In the media, they were widely depicted as maniacs, savages, and idiots, setting their culture back decades, damaging hip-hop, and most alarmingly, being one of the prime causes of Chicago’s most tragic, bloodiest summers ever.

Chief Keef associate Durk “Lil’ Durk” Banks’ breakthrough single (released just before his second gun-related incarceration) is the first honest admission of the heavy burden that these kids bear, day in and day out. Over the twinkling keys of longtime producer Paris Beuller, the 20 year-old deals with the heartbreaking reality of being widely viewed as a menace to your city and being a constant target to police, media, and rivals. The common conception is that these kids are ignorant and stupid — basically beyond repair — but the articulate, affecting “Dis Ain’t What U Want” reminds us that kids who grow up in extreme poverty are just as smart and emotionally competent as those who don’t. Music like this forces us to consider the root of the problems, even though it’s easier to blame and dehumanize the people in the struggle.

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

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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
“Forever”
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.

Memoryhouse
“Untitled” (Days of Our Lives)
Unreleased
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.

SOHN
“Bloodflows”
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.

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

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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
“Union”
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.

Vondelpark
“Dracula”
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
“Colombia”
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.

Daughter
“Winter”
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.

Mirage
“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.

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Best Songs of 2013 (So Far): Group 2, The Young Guns

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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.

Group #2 comes from a talented group of young artists..and Action Bronson (young-ish?). Dig in.

Boardwalk
“I’m To Blame”
From unnamed new LP out this fall (Stones Throw)
Los Angeles, CA

Though there isn’t much information out their on this Angelino duo, we know that they were responsible for one of the most atmospheric, languidly beautiful debut singles of the year. Taking cues from dreamy boy/girl duos like Beach House and Memoryhouse, “I’m To Blame” is a meandering, lifting warm blanket of sound that drifts effortlessly through your speakers.

Postiljonen
“Supreme”
SKYER (out July 22nd on Best Fit)
Stockholm, SWE + Bergen, NO

Living somewhere between m83 at its most life-affirming and Air France at its most pop-oriented, the Stockholm-based trio’s lead single is an absolute stormer. Vocalist Mia Bøe glides over a direct, soaring synth line before she is overtaken by an epic 80’s guitar solo. Youthfully brilliant.

BenZel
“Semi-Detached” (f/ Chance the Rapper + Cass Lowe)
Digital Single
New York, NY via Osaka, Japan

The teenage production duo of Umi Takahashi and Yoko Watanabe have been trickling out exquisite dance tracks for the better part of a year, but nothing they’d put out hinted that they were capable of crafting a ballad like this. Enlisting the vocal talents of Cass Lowe (a little Mikky Ekko-ish) and MC du jour Chance the Rapper, the mercurial producers craft a heady track that shows their unlimited potential.

Tropics
“Home & Consonance”
Home & Consonance (Five Easy Pieces)
Southampton, UK

The lead single from South Coast-based producer Chris Ward’s is an affecting rumination on being far from home. Though Ward’s better known as a producer, he’s always had troubadour ambitions, and this track is his best effort at marrying the two worlds, crafting a ballad that starts with spare piano and then builds to a swirling climax.

Action Bronson + Harry Fraud (f/ Wiz Khalifa)
“The Rockers”
Saab Stories (Vice)
Queens, NY

While this goes against my strict “never write about Wiz Khalifa” policy, his collaboration with the talented Action Bronson is simply too good to pass up. Bronson’s Saab Stories is packed with incredible Harry Fraud beats, and the twinkling keys and driving backbeat of “The Rockers” is indicative of the 26 year-old Brooklynite’s devastating style.

Say Lou Lou
“Fool of Me” (f/ Chet Faker)
Julian 7″ (à Deux)
Stockholm, SWE

The only thing more striking than Elektra and Miranda Kilbey’s looks is their music. The Swedish/Australian sisters stormed the scene with last year’s impossibly seductive, “Maybe You,” and their follow-up double A-side single is just as impressive. It’s the kind of effortlessly gorgeous single that just sweeps you away. A massive debut album beckons.

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