Photos by G.
2013 was filled with highs and lows musically. I’ve found that debut albums got more airplay than recent releases by veteran acts. So many hype machine songs did absolutely nothing for my ears, but the year was not a total waste. These 13 tracks made the year worth living.
1. “Running” by Jessie Ware. A perfect song from a perfect album. Jessie Ware’s silky smooth voice couldn’t be any sexier. Paired with this down-tempo groove that is good for chillin’, working out, walking down the street or getting it on. Here’s an exclusive live version!
2. “Fluorescent” & “Thursday” by Pet Shop Boys. I couldn’t pick which one I love more, so I am putting them both down in the number 2 spot. “Fluorescent,” is one of the danciest, darkest and moodiest tracks that Pet Shop Boys have ever recorded and every time I hear it, I can imagine being on a dance-floor after a night of intense partying. “Thursday” is one of the catchiest PSB songs in recent memory and features lyrics about two lovers sharing the weekend together instead of just one night and also has a guest rap from Example as well as a rare vocal appearance by Chris Lowe during the chorus.
3. “Sacrilege” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I highly encourage you to look up this video if you haven’t already seen it. It’s the story of a girl getting burned at the stake. It’s told backwards and the reasons she perishes are most certainly sacrilegious. This song is not only my favorite video of the year, but it’s my favorite video in a long time.
4. “Summer Wine” by Lana Del Rey and Barrie James O’Neil. The self-proclaimed ‘gangsta Nancy Sinatra’ teams with her boyfriend and they cover Nancy Sinatra. Like Lana did many times in 2013, she didn’t have her team issue a press release teasing new tracks. With no warning, she put out the song and video at the same time. I wish that would become a trend!
5. “Electric Lady” by Janelle Monae. Janelle Monae is one of the most talented artists out there today and she is so desperate to prove that she’s unique, she keeps releasing concept albums that, while extremely creative, are only good for a few listens aside from a few tracks here and there. Props to Janelle Monae for not only convincing Prince to be a collaborator but she took the reins and produced him (instead of the other way around) for their track “Giving Em What They Love,” which is Prince’s first listenable track in years.
6. “Are You In Love With A Notion?” by The Courteeners. The Courteeners are big in Britain but are failing to make a splash stateside. A real pity, especially when you hear rockin’ tracks like “Are You In Love With A Notion?”
7. “Sad Angel” / “Without You” by Fleetwood Mac. The Mac finally came back. They released a 4 song EP in 2013 that featured a very “classic Mac” sounding track called “Sad Angel” and the old unreleased Buckingham Nicks track “Without You” was dusted off and re-recorded. Luckily, Lindsey Buckingham’s vocals are overpowering the flatness of Stevie Nicks’ voice, making both songs totally essential tracks of the Fleetwood Mac catalog.
8. “Latch” by Sam Smith and Disclosure. I’m not a huge fan of all this mediocre electronic music that is coming out lately, but when you add the vocal talents of someone like Sam Smith who has a deliciously soulful voice, you can turn a music curmudgeon like me into a fan. Sam Smith’s debut album should probably be released in 2014 and he’s already an early contender to be on the best of 2014 list.
9. “Goodbye” by Depeche Mode. I read a funny thing on the interweb once saying that Depeche Mode are the Rolling Stones of synth pop – whereby you will always go see them live because they put on a great show, and you dread hearing the lead singer saying these words: “Here’s a new song.” Depeche Mode’s 13th album “Delta Machine,” has a few good moments, but overall the album is pretty weak. One of those good songs is the closing track “Goodbye” which is dark, bluesy and kind of depressing – everything you want from a classic DM song.
10. “Porno” by Arcade Fire. Every hipster on the planet has jerked off to the fact that the overhyped Arcade Fire recorded an album with the brains behind the overhyped electronic outfit LCD Soundsystem. The results are not surprisingly an overhyped album for hipsters. One of the tracks is 11 minutes of feedback. You get what you pay for!!! I wonder how many times people have gone to Pitchfork’s website searching for an answer of what it all means. With that being said, the double disc has two good songs on it. One – the title track “Reflektor” (even though it’s 4 minutes too long) and the other is “Porno,” that has a cute beat and creepy lyrics about boys with their pornos. Way to go, new dad Win Butler. Every time this song comes on my iPod, the first thing that comes to mind is what motherfucking assholes this band are. Thanks for ruining your own mediocre music, dicks! Also, LA Weekly thinks you suck too.
11. “The Ballad of Boogie Christ” by Joseph Arthur. Joseph Arthur is an extremely underrated artist. He sings, he paints. Sometimes he paints as he sings. (not kidding). You should definitely check out his album “The Ballad of Boogie Christ,” as it’s a nice concept album in the age of the 2 second attention span generation. Watch the video above if you don’t believe me!
12. “Head In The Dirt” by Hanni El Khatib. If you only listen to Hanni El Khatib’s records without seeing him live, you are not getting the full picture (or sound in this case) of how good his music is. His new record was produced by one of the Black Keys so that was a start in better production studio-wise, but I still see an opportunity for growth. The title track “Head in the Dirt” gives you a taste of what you are missing out on by not seeing Hanni live.
13. “Let Go” by Kele Okereke, MNDR and RAC. A great dance track by RAC featuring the vocals of Bloc Party’s Kele and MNDR. As of press time they’ve only collaborated on one track, but once you hear “Let Go,” that perfectly marries the signature sounds of Kele and MNDR, you will want a whole album of duets. I’ve put it out there. Maybe it will happen!
Thanks to all the musicians who helped make my world a better place with these excellent songs!