For songs 100-76, click here.
/// THE PREATURES Is This How You Feel?
The sprightly, jubilant “Is This How You Feel?” certainly feels like a lost relic, as its sound is as out-of-line with the popular musical movements of 2013 as anything else released this year. But therein lies the track’s charm, as the inspired track effectively uses the past as a springboard for musical growth, and Isabella Manfredi is a revelation as the band’s fiery, energized lead vocalist.
/// JON HOPKINS Open Eye Signal
While he has certainly kept good company, Jon Hopkins has been far more known for his collaborative work (Coldplay, King Creosote) than his solo material. That all changed in 2013 with the stunning Immunity and album highlight “Open Eye Signal.” The eight-minute electro-trance track fits so many ideas and sounds into its runtime that you wouldn’t fault Hopkins if the song were 16-minutes long. But for such a lengthy track, everything feels compressed and just itching to get out, to be heard.
/// FRIENDS The Way
/// CHANCE THE RAPPER Chain Smoker
For the general public, 2013 will be remembered for Miley Cyrus’s nonstop twerking campaign, JAY Z’s Samsung campaign, Beyoncé’s no-campaign, and the series finale of Breaking Bad. But in hip-hop circles, 2013 will go down as the year when Chance The Rapper took the genre by storm with his assured Acid Rap mixtape, which includes quality track after quality track, and one of the best is certainly “Chain Smoker.” “Lot o’ niggas wanna go out with a bang / But I ain’t tryin’ to go out at all,” he raps on the track. And one thing’s for certain; if Chance keeps releasing material like this, he won’t be forgotten soon, or later.
/// VONDELPARK California Analog Dream
/// KATY B 5 AM
/// SKY FERREIRA Heavy Metal Heart
Finally escaping record studio hell, Sky Ferreira’s remarkably consistent debut LP Night Time, My Time finds the barely legal singer most effective when she’s singing over heavy, early 90s alternative inspired productions, such as on the phenomenal “Heavy Metal Heart.” Over a wall of distortion, Ferreira rips into the lyrics, as she emotively sings, “You make me feel the pulse of my heavy metal heart beat…” Her delivery implies a deeper connection to the lyrical content than most of her contemporaries, and Ariel Reichstaid’s production must be applauded. After the year she just had, each note on “Heavy Metal Heart” sounds like Ferreira getting that much closer to redemption.
/// PUSHA T (FEAT. KENDRICK LAMAR) Nosetalgia
/// DARKSIDE Golden Arrow
/// SOPHIE Bipp
/// ICEAGE Ecstasy
What Iceage is able to accomplish with “Ecstasy” is one of the greatest musical achievements of the year. In less than 150 seconds, the band sludge through three distinct musical sections, each one capturing the brutality and visceral emotion in lead singer Elias Rønnenfelt’s vocals. “Pressure, pressure / Oh god no / Can’t take this pressure,” belts Rønnenfelt, before he and his bandmates slam away at their instruments with an intensity few others could make sound so beautiful.
/// BLOOD ORANGE Chamakay
/// JAMES BLAKE Overgrown
/// M.I.A. Y.A.L.A.
M.I.A.’s last album, the conflicted and paranoid /\/\ /\ Y /\ (2010), at the time seemed to be an unfortunate critical and commercial failure that would be remembered in the history books as the album that erased M.I.A. from the collective consciousness. Her resiliency paid off with her stunning 2013 collection, Matangi. Of all the prerelease singles she released in 2013, her social critique anthem “Y.A.L.A.” stands out as her best. The beat is classic M.I.A., meaning its crazy and A.D.H.D. enough that no one other than Maya Arulpragasam could make it work. And her name-dropping Julianne Moore is one of the best things you’ll hear all year.
/// THE BELLE GAME River
The Belle Game has been around since the late 2000s, but they waited until 2013 to make their biggest musical statement thus far, with their stunning “River” off Ritual Tradition Habit. The British Columbia outfit has never sounded so vital, with Andrea Lo delivering the vocals with a phenomenal force that is one of the more powerful vocal displays of the year. Over a gorgeous and affecting guitar riff, Lo’s vocals soar to unimaginable heights. “Take a little more from me,” she sings, and her supply of comfort and stability is far from running out.
/// PHOSPHORESCENT Ride On, Right On
/// DANNY BROWN Side B (Dope Song)
32-year old Detroit rapper Danny Brown took a circuitous path towards stardom, with his incredibly satisfying official debut studio LP Old following years of near hits and setbacks. What makes “Side B (Dope Song)” stand out among Brown’s best is how true it stays to his unique style and image, while allowing the MC to explore previously unexamined musical terrains with producer Rustie.
/// TEGAN AND SARA Shock To Your System
2013 was a breakout year for Tegan And Sara, whose single “Closer” became a sleeper hit for the Canadian sisters. The album track “Shock To Your System,” along with “Closer,” serve as great examples as to how to change ones sound while not diluting its impact. “What you are is lonely,” the sisters sing, not accusatory, but in a way to help pinpoint the origins of someone’s problems. Much like the rest of Heartthrob, it isn’t necessarily what we’d expect to hear from the duo, but it’s unquestionably what we needed to hear.
/// THE JUAN MACLEAN You Are My Destiny
/// DRAKE (FEAT. SAMPHA) Too Much
Drake has made a name for himself with his introspective and honest approach to hip-hop, and he hits new heights with the Sampha-featuring “Too Much” from his quality 2013 album Nothing Was The Same. It’s the most personal moment on the album for the child star turned rapper, with him addressing familial issues with the type of clarity and precision rarely seen by his contemporaries. All the while, Sampha’s sincere, weathered vocals add to the track’s somber tone, as beautiful as they are.
/// DEATH GRIPS Whatever I Want (Fuck Who’s Watching)
Death Grips do not care what you think. To drive that point home, they have released an album without their (previous) record label’s consent, complete with a semi-erect penis and the album’s title sharpie’d on said penis. Then this past summer, instead of performing at their publicized gigs, had a screen display a fan’s handwritten suicide note. If that doesn’t sound like you’re average pleasantry from a band, you’re not alone. But it is easy to justify their actions when they release something as stunning as “Whatever I Want (Fuck Who’s Watching).” True, they still don’t give a fuck about what you think, but they sure do care enough to tell us what they’re thinking.
/// A$AP FERG (FEAT. SHABBA RANKS, BUSTA RHYMES & MIGOS) Shabba (Remix)
/// KANYE WEST I’m In It
“I put my fist up in her like a civil rights sign,” goes one particularly infamous line from Kanye West’s gloriously schizophrenic “I’m In It.” Yeezus is defined by its brash, harsh productions and West’s stream of consciousness lyrical exercise, and no song better fits that mold that this one. Bon Iver and Volcano Choir’s Justin Vernon stops by to offer up some amazing vocals. “Star / Fucker,” he repeatedly sings, each iteration carrying a little more vile in it than the last.