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Top 100 Songs of 2013 (pt. 4)

Alright everyone, we are winding down the week, but just cause we are getting close to the end doesn’t mean the music isn’t still great! Today is still a fairly diverse event, however, there are two bands on the list today that pulled out a trifecta. You could say that we like them…a lot! Hope you enjoy today’s list and don’t forget to look back on the other parts of the Top 100!

 

 

 

 

The Naked and Famous “A Stillness” from In Rolling Waves

This song shouldn’t work with the fast-strummed acoustic guitar alongside richly evocative, pulsing dance electronica atmospheres and conventionally beautiful vocals. But it does, it makes you think someone got this pop music thing right for the first time in a long time in terms of writing an uplifting song without crossing over into cheese and one in which experimenting with mixing sounds worked out. It also has a big emotional payoff at the end of the song–which seems rare anymore without seeming like a token effort. -Tom Murphy

 

Nine Inch Nails “All Time Low” from Hesitation Marks

When Trent Reznor semi-retired the Nine Inch Nails moniker a few years back, it was widely speculated to be the end of the band, so it was with great surprise when Reznor reactivated NIN and released Hesitation Marks. On an album full of surprises, “All Time Low” is one of the more intriguing tracks. Perhaps Reznor’s friendship with Josh Homme influenced the direction of “All Time Low”, complete with funky, gut-bucket bass,  a driving, relentless beat and falsetto vocals, the song sees Reznor explore new territory while keeping true to the Nine Inch Nails brand. -Ryan Brun

 

Nine Inch Nails “Everything” from Hesitation Marks

Where “All Time Low” dabbled with new elements and peppered in unique sounds for Nine Inch Nails, “Everything” scraps it all, taking a shit on the blueprint of everything preceding it. Uncharacteristically upbeat and poppy, Reznor tries his hand at post-punk and succeeds immensely. Choppy, major chord guitar work is complemented with a mile a minute chorus that is only satiated by the fantastic sound of multiple vocal tracks all harmonizing with one another. Fan reaction to “Everything” was mixed (at best), but what is likely an albatross in the NIN catalog is one of our favorite songs of the year. -RB

 

Nine Inch Nails “While I’m Still Here (Breyer P-Orridge ‘Howler’ Remix)” from Hesitation Marks

Remixed songs are not usually considered to be worthy of inclusion on “best of” lists. Why? Well, simply said, most remixes usually suck. A lot. Not the case with this version of “While I’m Still Here” courtesy of Genesis P-Orridge of Psychic TV fame. Genesis’ version largely keeps the format of the original, but adds in eerie soundscapes peppered throughout, along with a narrative from his late partner Lady Jaye. In it’s original form, the song was great, but Genesis flipped it and made it a truly haunting and memorable experience. -RB

 

Gary Numan “I Am Dust” from Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)

In many circles, Gary Numan is probably more well known for his songs that have been covered by other people. Really, how many different versions of “Down In The Park” or “Cars” have you ever heard? But instead of resting on his laurels and counting money from the royalty checks, he released the fantastic Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind). Opening track “I Am Dust” is a predictably synth heavy affair that seems to plod along at first, but patience is rewarded as Numan shows off his compelling vocal range before the song explodes into an electronic maelstrom that doesn’t spare anyone listening the pleasure of bouncing along. -RB

 

Oneohtrix Point Never “Cyro” from R Plus Seven

You can practically see the highway streetlights pass in your mind during the first half of the song, such is the evocation of late night driving that this song captures. Or, as the title suggests, the meditative pulse of being in cryogenic freeze for crossing the vast distances of space and the dreams one might have between slowed down heartbeats. -TM

 

Ours “Been Down” from Ballet the Boxer 1

When someone is familiar with the work of Ours or Jimmy Gnecco, they are generally a huge fan. Why Ours isn’t a modern day Cure meets U2 success is anyone’s guess. They have produced album after album of finely crafted rock songs delivered in Gnecco’s trademark wail. Dark, mysterious, tattooed – he’s everything a rock singer should possibly be, and here he offers one of his many fine songs from Ballet the Boxer 1, an album he self-produced and played every instrument on (including drums for the first time). Sadly, this release, like the rest, seems to wallow in relative obscurity. Listen to the emotional falsetto and soulful wails on “Been Down” and you will see why this is flat out criminal. People with crazy talent are supposed to be recognized, right? I mean, maybe he’s not Miley Cyrus talented, but c’mon! -Rob Dixon

 

Paramore “Ain’t It Fun” from Paramore

In what was one of the bigger surprises of the year, Paramore released a new record after undergoing massive lineup changes. Instead of letting that detract from their sound, Paramore took things to a new and unexplored level. “Ain’t It Fun” is bouncy, bright pop-rock that doesn’t grant a moment of relief from at least nodding your head along in approval and is punctuated by singer Haley Williams’ soaring performance, culminating in a gospel worthy sing along that will get even the most stoic of listeners singing and dancing along. -RB

 

Paramore “Hate To See Your Heart Break” from Paramore

I always knew that Paramore could write a decent song, but even that knowledge couldn’t prepare me for the exquisite simplicity that is “Hate To See Your Heart Break.” Sounding like a throwback to an early 70s Carly Simon song, Paramore took the “less is more” approach, with minimal instrumentation that is accented beautifully by chimes and a string section. Again, Williams’ vocal dexterity is front and center, but instead of belting it out, she opts for a gentle delivery of a bittersweet melody that will leave very few eyes dry after hearing it. -RB

 

Pearl Jam “Future Days” from Lightning Bolt

Anyone familiar with Eddie Vedder’s work on the Into The Wild soundtrack knows he can create some sublimely gorgeous folk music, and “Future Days” is another example of just that. Since it is a Pearl Jam release, this track has a bit more instrumentation and thus sounds bigger than most of the songs on the aforementioned soundtrack, but the melody and theme would have fit perfectly. As Vedder sings softly into your ear of our future days, you stare vacantly out the window, taking a quiet respite from the present, lost in daydreams and memories. -RD

 

Pop. 1280 “Do The Anglerfish” from Imps of Perversion

The screaming synth and broken guitar riffing next to desperate vocals isn’t something unusual with Pop. 1280 but here each of those elements seems even more extreme and thrilling. With the intro you think you’re in for some eight bit synth pop but then it goes mutant and violent on you in an instant. We need more songs that do that like this out there. -TM

 

Portugal. The Man “Creep in a T-Shirt” from Evil Friends

Nothing will have you hopping around the house gleefully yelling “I just want to be evil!” more than Evil Friends, the new Danger Mouse/Portugal. The Man collaboration. This marriage made in indie rock heaven turns out to be as great as you could have ever hoped. The modern Beatles-esque vibe of Portugal. The Man is offset just enough by the hip-hop production stylings that Danger Mouse is known for. When you sing along to the chorus “I’m just a creep in a t-shirt, jeans, I don’t fuckin’ care” you really feel it because, let’s face it- that is exactly what you are. -RD

 

Portugal. The Man “Modern Jesus” from Evil Friends

This is one of the greatest pop songs about replacing faith with self reliance ever recorded, period (I know there are a lot of those on the market, but this is the best one.) A rousing, goose-bump inducing melody followed by an anthemic chorus that builds into a synth-pad-tastic bridge as the song explains, “We won’t sell you nothing you can’t use.” It’s the perfect metaphor for a song that gives you everything that you want and nothing you don’t need. It’s rock and art and philosophy all rolled into an awesome package. -RD

 

Portugal. The Man “Sea of Air” from Evil Friends

A quiet, aching acoustic ditty that features a sing-a-long, clap-a-long (bonus challenge: learn the hand clap pattern!) chorus that will have you humming for days. Portugal. The Man has never shied away from their Beatles influence, which is part of their charm. This song showcases that influence better than any other on the album in both melody and orchestration (which hits you with a sonic surprise midway through the song, jolting those that are lulled into a happy trance by the relaxing, comforting sounds preceding it). When the final chorus begins, it’s joined by a mellotron-sounding accompaniment which fades out all too soon. The bass player clearly agrees as he refuses to be faded out. Good call bass player. -RD

 

Primal Scream “Tenement Kid” from More Light

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that a song like “Tenement Kid” came from Primal Scream. After all, they are one of the more diverse acts over the last few decades. Nonetheless, the haunting qualities of the song, from it’s dreamy electronic atmospheres to the grasping at straws narrative of Bobby Gillespie, make it one of the standout tracks from More Light, an album that was as diverse as it was beautiful. -RB

 

Pure Love “Bury My Bones” from Anthems

OK, so we’re gonna cheat a little bit here. This song actually came out as a single in the UK last year, but Anthems was released this year, so it counts right? This track is from the new project featuring Frank Carter, who was last seen melting faces as the singer of hardcore act Gallows. While Carter was a picture perfect portrait of rage with Gallows, he takes a step back on “Bury My Bones” employing an intrusive sense of melody and giving an intimate glimpse of his mindset. It might not have the outright angst of his former band, but by turning his back on the past and moving forward, it could be the biggest “fuck you!” of his young and promising career. -RB

 

Queens of the Stone Age “If I Had A Tail” from …Like Clockwork

In its entirety, …Like Clockwork is a pretty solid and entertaining listen. But there are a few standouts among the bunch, “If I Had A Tail” being one of them for a couple of reasons. First off, this is one of the handful of songs on the record that Dave Grohl played drums on and his contribution cannot be overstated. He is this generations version of John Bonham and anytime he’s behind the kit, it’s for the better. On top of Grohl’s participation, “If I Had A Tail” is a blustery, quasi-psychedelic affair that utilizes all the best elements of the band into one succinct package. -RB

 

Queens of the Stone Age “Smooth Sailing” from …Like Clockwork

If a song could personify a night of partying and fucked up mistakes, “Smooth Sailing” would fit the bill perfectly. It’s like the soundtrack of a night out on the town.  As the song wears on, it gets progressively more intense, dragging anyone listening through peaks and valleys all culminating in a guitar riff that sounds completely wasted. What stars off as a couple of drinks with good friends ends up with finding yourself in a bathroom stall, doing lines off the back of a toilet with a stripper and a dude named Bruce. It’s not the kind of shit you would do every day… but every now and again. -RB

 

Ra Ra Riot “Is It Too Much” from Beta Love

This Syracuse based band changed things up a bit with the electro-pop Beta Love, but don’t worry too much. As “Is It Too Much” displays, the string section is still a strong element even though the cello player is no longer with the band. The sweet and simple verse gives way to a chorus of cheery “da-da-da-da-da-da-dada dada” as layers of harmonizing and the aforementioned strings fill in over a foot tapping a constant kick beat. As all the elements are firing in unison it swells to an abrupt, yet satisfying conclusion. If that ain’t Beta Love, I don’t know what is. -RD

 

Run The Jewels “Banana Clipper (feat. Big Boi) from Run The Jewels

When Killer Mike and El-P announced that they would be uniting for a joint album, I was somewhat skeptical. I couldn’t see how the styles of the two MC’s would combine to make a cohesive experience. Boy was I wrong. This album fucking hits from beginning to end, but “Banana Clipper” is definitely a standout with Killer Mike and El-P trading verses over a massive beat. That alone would be enough to guarantee a spot on the list, but the third verse includes a guest spot from Oukast’s Big Boi, whose verbal dexterity and commanding flow never gets old, even if it is just a few bars. -RB

More Top 100 Songs of 2013: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 5

 

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About the author:
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I am absolutely and unabashedly in love with music. If I could eat a huge bowl of songs for breakfast every morning, I totally would. I'm obsessive about categorization (don't mess with my chronological or alphabetical) and can't stand an unorganized iTunes library. Outside of music and writing, I love baseball (go Rockies), coffee, corgi's and going on fun trips with my girlfriend!

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