Tag Archives: 2013 Tracks of the Year

2013 Tracks of the Year: The Full List

14 Dec

Tracks of 2013 - The Full List

This week, after previewing the 15 (21 with honourable mentions) acts we think you should Listen Out For in 2014, this week we started counting down our favourites from 2013. We began by listing the 25 songs that more than tickled our fancy and made us feel all warm and tingly where it matters, amongst other emotions.

As with our list of artists we love and expect great things of next year, we’ve put together a consolidated post of all 25 tracks, and a playlist of the lot below (except Young Hunting’s “Annabelle” which isn’t on Soundcloud). Should you wish to read more about each track, just click on their name to see the original post.

Enjoy.


#25 All We Are – “Utmost Good”

”It’s a white-suited John Travolta walking down the street at half-speed with a bassline that exudes cool and a beat that nudges your shoulders from side to side while the trio sing lovely falsetto shapes. The whole thing makes for quite a superb piece of dreamy psychedelic laid back funk that’ll make you want to break out the lava lamps, joss sticks and giant yin yang tapestries.”

#24 A Weekend At The Feelies – “Lowly Buzzard”

”It’s gloriously languid in style and almost shoegazy, dreamy and intangible, smoke like almost. Smooth vocals dissipate into its eerie chasm of sonic wistfulness. There are gentle depths and rises, twists, turns and dark corners of sound hidden away, waiting to be discovered.”

#23 Marika Hackman – “Bath Is Black”

”Showcasing Marika’s delightful way with words with playful yet heartfelt lyrics, “Bath Is Black” is a catchy and upbeat gem. It’s a fantastically visual track, more like a novel or short story layered over a sumptuously intricate musical arrangement.”

#22 Horse Party – “Back To Mono”

”It’s the simplicity of the beat and the opening riff, the repetition that just gets under your skin and won’t come out. Also, it kinda rocks. The pound of the drum, the crash of cymbal, the grind of guitar and the slight element of challenge in the vocal, a smidge of attitude that is almost defiant.“

#21 TV Girl – “Laura”

”…“Laura” is a fantastically vibrant piece of throwback pop music, infectious and melodious throughout. …It’s an upbeat and summery affair and ridiculously catchy with a danceable hip-hop style beat entwined with cascading piano melodies and twinkling xylophonic sounds.”

#20 Gems – “Medusa UN₡U₮”

”It’s still sparse but it doesn’t float, it is tethered to the ground, desperate to break free. These opening two minutes are like a walk through a long corridor in a stately home. Polished black and white tiles lead us to a great atrium where “Medusa” takes flight to the open sky above. It’s just wonderful.”

#19 John Grant – “GMF”

”The melody whispers and swirls like a solo waltz in the midst of shrapnel from a shattered and exploded relationship. Detritus lies all around, a memory here, a keepsake there, a heart still and cold discarded forlornly to one side as John stoically rises and falls through it all, bloodied but unbowed.”

#18 Mononoke – “Alice”

”It’s a single tear of exquisite emotion with simple and stark chords alternating with finger clicks as the vocals caress the memories of a life that never was. It’s a beautifully haunting ballad that uses the imagery of Alice In Wonderland as a metaphor for something altogether more heart wrenching and bewitchingly beautiful.”

#17 Mega Emotion – “Brains”

”With their debut track, Mega Emotion announced themselves to the world with big seventies pop guitars and neo-disco basslines, brash, angular riffage and dark electro flashes. “Brains” is hyper addictive and bold, raw and powerful.”

#16 Lorde – “Royals”

”Lorde’s rich, soulful vocal resonates against the sparse beat and barely there tune. It’s bold and confident, yet restrained and understated.”

#15 Velvet Two Stripes – “Fire”

”Sara wields her guitar like a weapon of mass destruction, letting fly with grinding, wailing licks that could bring a city to its knees and “Fire” is a bluesy riff driven slice of ka-boom that will stir heart, mind and anywhere else that could do with some life injecting into it.”

#14 Violet – “Where The Wild Things Grow”

”While we continue to wait patiently for a fully mastered version that thus far hasn’t come, we remain bewitched by the demo’s rich, soaring beauty and more Lana than Lana sensibilities. It is simply gorgeous.”

#13 Blood Orange – “Chamakay”

”It’s hard to listen to the smooth, soulful melodies without feeling compelled to indulge in a little armography and leg flickering yourself. Featuring the sultry voice of Caroline Polachek from Chairlift, “Chamakay” channels Terence Trent D’arby, D’Angelo and “Liberian Girl” crooning MJ into slow jam R’n’B grooves as a sexy sax sound disguises the heaviness of emotion within.”

#12 Ms Mr – “Fantasy”

”Painting from a broader palette, the result is a wonderful explosion of pop sound and colour; it’s effervescent and infectious. The drums are incessant, driving pulsating rhythms that evoke memories of Florence and the Machine but while never losing any of that glorious MS MR darkness and intrigue.”

#11 Dancing Years – “Here’s To My Old Friends”

”Like reading an old diary or looking through an old photo album, it’s full of warm remorse, happy memories that bring a smile to your face and a tear to the eye. Like watching the sun set on the last day of summer, it’s plaintive and beautiful and as the sun finally falls, the violins rise and let out a mournful, yearning cry for a time that is gone but will never be forgotten.”

#10 Brooke Annibale – “Tragically Beautiful”

Taken from the sublime Words In Your Eyes EP, Brooke Annibale’s “Tragically Beautiful” was, to start with, just one of six wonderful tunes that we loved. Then, bit by bit, like a gradual frost creeping silently across the fields and countryside, we suddenly found ourselves consumed, covered entirely by the fragile, pristine and picturesque loveliness that is “Tragically Beautiful”. It is delicate and evocative; it swoops, soars and glides effortlessly across the winter sky as the clouds turn pink with the sun. Heartfelt and poignant, Annibale’s lyrics and winters breath vocals hang in the air, resonating with the listener before dissipating into a swirl of guitar and strings.

#9 Pawws – “Slow Love”

”It is a glorious tune, everything that good pop should be and then some. If skittles let you “taste the rainbow” then “Slow Love” makes you “see, hear, feel, and surf the rainbow”.”

#8 Empress Of – “Hat Trick”

”Bookended by twinkling, almost shrill, synths the beat and melody swoon and sway along like cavorting partners, clinging to each other in the low light of a slow dance. It is a gloriously misty piece of electro-pop and one we couldn’t get enough of since its release.”

#7 Public Service Broadcasting – “Night Mail”

”It moves relentlessly, excitingly forwards with majestic, rolling scenery all around it. It’s fantastic and as the conductor yells “now” and the train whistle blares out, guitars and drums meet in a perfect storm of controlled energy and ambition as the track steams along.”

#6 Avec Sans – “Shiver”

”It’s so glorious and catchy; it’s a proper earworm tune. If they could find a way to weaponise it, this would be how Avec Sans took over the world. We don’t think anyone would mind too much though.”

#5 Sivu – “Better Man Than He”

”Brimming with elegance and sophistication, it is blessed with the kind of understated beauty that can take your breath away. It sounds so simple but the sounds have been deftly woven by a skilled craftsman to disguise their intricacy as well as their intimacy.”

#4 Young Hunting – “Annabelle”

”“Annabelle” might just be one of the most heartwrenchingly beautiful things we’ve ever heard. There are no extraneous flourishes; no flamboyances and each detail augments the narrative of the lyrics and aural caresses of the musical arrangements.”

#3 Chvrches – “Gun”

”The synths shoot across the night sky entwined with Lauren’s so-sweet, sometimes breathy and occasionally almost demure vocals, dancing into the drums before the track quietens down as the display looks to be ending, only to fire off one last great crescendo of light and sound.”

#2 Curxes – “Further Still”

”Dark, emotional and subtle, it whispers where you might expect a roar, even as the drama is ramped up it tip-toes through the sterile rooms behind the bright primary colours of the camp outside, scalpel in hand as it comes to slice into our ears and implant itself there for evermore.”

#1 Nicole Atkins – “Red Ropes”

”It’s a slow burning track, full of gentle drama at first before taking on an altogether more dense and powerful conclusion with the addition of choral backing vocals as Nicole Atkins‘ soft vocals reach up with increasing force. It is cinematic in feel, Lynchian almost (but less confusing) with that sort of retro-noir style to it that Tarantino can do so well too.”



2013 Tracks Of The Year – #5 – 1

11 Dec

Tracks of 2013 - 5-1

It’s the final countdown, as some wise men once sang, as today we reach the Top 5, and therefore the pinnacle, of our Tracks of the Year feature. When we started the list on Monday, we noted that ” These then are the tracks that really stood out and stayed with us across the year, and we mean the whole year, many of these tracks have been out a number of months and we keep coming back to them time and time again, that’s how good they are”, and you’ll see from the list below that we weren’t joking. All five tracks were released in the first half of the year and three of them before March was over.

Often tracks from the beginning of a year can get forgotten, overtaken by newer, shinier songs that are fresh in the mind and ears. But these five have remained fresh in our ears because their quality is so high, we haven’t really stopped listening to them since they came out.

Before we tell you what they are, here’s a quick link-a-thon to the other Tracks of the Year posts and the previous 20 of our favourite songs of 2013.

Part One – Tracks #25 – 21
Part Two – Tracks #20 – 16
Part Three – Tracks #15 – 11
Part Four – Tracks #10 – 6

Now then, here we go with our Top 5 favourite tracks of 2013. Enjoy.


#5 Sivu – “Better Man Than He”

The debut track of our number one artist to Listen Out For in 2014, Sivu’s “Better Man Than He” probably resonates and touches us more now, nearly a whole year after it was released, than it did when we first heard it. Brimming with elegance and sophistication, it is blessed with the kind of understated beauty that can take your breath away. It sounds so simple but the sounds have been deftly woven by a skilled craftsman to disguise their intricacy as well as their intimacy. It was written for a friend who was battling depression, offering them hope and a light ahead in the form of delicate and enchanting melodies, and it is this poignancy and heartfelt emotion that helps set it apart even from his most recent and spectacular tunes.


#4 Young Hunting – “Annabelle”

One of the greatest pieces of musical storytelling we heard all year came from Los Angeles quintet, Young Hunting. The standout track of a wondrously understated and gorgeous debut album, “Annabelle” might just be one of the most heartwrenchingly beautiful things we’ve ever heard. There are no extraneous flourishes; no flamboyances and each detail augments the narrative of the lyrics and aural caresses of the musical arrangements. The drumbeat acts as harbinger of the woe to come, a slowed down take on the drums that would precede an execution, and the trumpets which join as denouement is reached are a mournful lament for the loss experienced. It sounds divine, gentle melodies and almost imperceptible nuances within that stir your soul and send your heartstrings reverberating like crazy.



#3 Chvrches – “Gun”

Choosing our favourite Chvrches track is a bit like trying to choose which superpower you would have. They are all so damn good and exciting that one just isn’t enough. But, we made the rule of one track per artist so here we are, having to make Lauren’s choice. We’ve gone for the uplifting and kaleidoscopic “Gun”, not least because we’ve choreographed a pretty amazing firework display to it in our head. The beat crashes and explodes with 808 style drums, cymbals and handclaps splashing like aforementioned fireworks. The synths shoot across the night sky entwined with Lauren’s so-sweet, sometimes breathy and occasionally almost demure vocals, dancing into the drums before the track quietens down as the display looks to be ending, only to fire off one last great crescendo of light and sound.



#2 Curxes – “Further Still”

Despite having a relatively quiet 2013, over the last 12 months Curxes have become one of our favourite young bands around. So much so that we invited them to play on our stage at Norwich Sound and Vision this year. Much of this love was stirred when they released the amazingly dark and refined sounds of “Further Still”. Beginning with some sinister and uneasy sounding operatics, the kind you’d have coming out over the PA during morning exercise at a Stepford holiday camp, all pastel shades and rictus grins, “Further Still” soon steps into an eerily still backroom. Roberta’s vocals take over and blend with the suddenly more liquid sound of Curxes before that too starts to evolve and solidify into head-nod-making beats. Dark, emotional and subtle, it whispers where you might expect a roar, even as the drama is ramped up it tip-toes through the sterile rooms behind the bright primary colours of the camp outside, scalpel in hand as it comes to slice into our ears and implant itself there for evermore.



#1 Nicole Atkins – “Red Ropes”

We knew when we first heard “Red Ropes” that it was something special and we knew it would most likely feature in the upper echelons of our end of year list. Then we played it again and again and again. We played it when we went on Amazing Radio for the first time, we played it to anyone who would listen and we loved it more and more each time we did. It’s a slow burning track, full of gentle drama at first before taking on an altogether more dense and powerful conclusion with the addition of choral backing vocals as Nicole Atkins‘ soft vocals reach up with increasing force. It is cinematic in feel, Lynchian almost (but less confusing) with that sort of retro-noir style to it that Tarantino can do so well too. Sun-bleached images of a damsel not in distress but with a will of iron and capable of outwitting all around her are evoked as it swells and soars. The influence of her co-writer, Mr. Jim Sclavunos (Grinderman/The Bad Seeds) is apparent in its darkness, its rawness, honesty and power. We adore it and as we began to put this list together, with all the jostling and re-positioning that went on as we considered all the tracks (and others), not once did it move from the top spot.



So there you have it, our favourite tracks of the year.
We’ll post a full list at the weekend with a playlist of all the tracks for your delectation but tell us what you think. What did we miss and what would make your list?

2013 Tracks Of The Year – #10 – 6

10 Dec

Tracks of 2013 - 10-6

Over the last couple of days, we’ve looked at the tracks that we ranked 25 – 11 in our list of favourites for the year (previous posts can be found by clicking these links, 25 – 21, 20 – 16, 15 – 11) and now it’s Top 10 time.

We’re not going to bother reminding you of the rules at this stage, if you’ve been with us for the other posts you will already know them and if you are only just joining us, we bet you’d rather just get to the songs yeah?

Ok then, here they are, our favourite tracks of the year, places 10 – 6.


#10 Brooke Annibale – “Tragically Beautiful”

Taken from the sublime Words In Your Eyes EP, Brooke Annibale’s “Tragically Beautiful” was, to start with, just one of six wonderful tunes that we loved. Then, bit by bit, like a gradual frost creeping silently across the fields and countryside, we suddenly found ourselves consumed, covered entirely by the fragile, pristine and picturesque loveliness that is “Tragically Beautiful”. It is delicate and evocative; it swoops, soars and glides effortlessly across the winter sky as the clouds turn pink with the sun. Heartfelt and poignant, Annibale’s lyrics and winters breath vocals hang in the air, resonating with the listener before dissipating into a swirl of guitar and strings.



#9 Pawws – “Slow Love”

We’ve not exactly been shy about declaring our love for Pawws and for the immensely poptacular “Slow Love”. It is a glorious tune, everything that good pop should be and then some. If skittles let you “taste the rainbow” then “Slow Love” makes you “see, hear, feel, and surf the rainbow”. With influences from the likes of Robyn, Annie and Kylie it’s a spin around during the chorus piece of electro-pop fantasticness. Lucy Taylor’s beautifully sweet and heartfelt vocals blend perfectly with its full on grooveability.



#8 Empress Of – “Hat Trick”

We may have been alone in this, but one thing we took from Empress Of’s “Hat Trick” was how damn sexy it sounded. Just listen as Lorely gets all sweet, sultry and breathy and sings, “Lay my cards on the table / Tell me my future / Tell me I’ll make it move”. See what we mean? Sexy. Wrapped around her seductive tones is an addictive track of swirling beauty that draws you in, Siren like, for play after play after play. Bookended by twinkling, almost shrill, synths the beat and melody swoon and sway along like cavorting partners, clinging to each other in the low light of a slow dance. It is a gloriously misty piece of electro-pop and one we couldn’t get enough of since its release.



#7 Public Service Broadcasting – “Night Mail”

Built around words from the 1936 documentary film of the same name, and the W.H. Auden poem, also of the same name, “Night Mail” is a prime example of what makes Public Service Broadcasting so damn special and why we love them so much. It’s how they use these samples and create and arrange music to complement and enhance it, rather than just sit underneath it. Auden’s poem itself clatters along with the rhythm, tempo and cadence of a steam train charging through the countryside so it is only right that “Night Mail” does the same. It moves relentlessly, excitingly forwards with majestic, rolling scenery all around it. It’s fantastic and as the conductor yells “now” and the train whistle blares out, guitars and drums meet in a perfect storm of controlled energy and ambition as the track steams along.



#6 Avec Sans – “Shiver”

Back when we originally posted Avec Sans’ “Shiver” we rather succinctly stated that it was “fucking fantastic”. We could easily just say the same and leave it at that, but you deserve more and so does the song. It’s just a superb piece of light, dazzling electro pop that teases and tingles. If it was a weapon it would be deadly because it is not a giant in your face kaboom, it’s subtle and delicate and it gets under your skin, into your head as you open yourself up to accept it willingly. It’s so glorious and catchy; it’s a proper earworm tune. If they could find a way to weaponise it, this would be how Avec Sans took over the world. We don’t think anyone would mind too much though.



We’re almost there, come back tomorrow morning to find out who made the Top 5 and which track is our absolute favourite of the year.

2013 Tracks Of The Year – #15 – 11

10 Dec

Tracks of 2013 - 15-11

Hello and welcome to part three of our countdown of the 25 tracks this year that we loved more than any other. Parts one and two (where we listed the tracks that took the number 25 – 16) are here and here, and below we reveal who made it into the Top 15 and came oh so close to breaking the Top10.

But before that, as is customary, here’s a quick reminder of the random rules we have imposed upon ourselves. Feel free to skip this bit if you have already read it on the other posts.

The song doesn’t have to be an actual single and while that may seem a bit of a cheat, there’s a good reason behind it. We are looking at tracks that were released in one capacity or another over the last 12 months so that amazing album tracks will also be considered. We must note though, if a track was released online this year but will become a single next, then it won’t be included. The only other arbitrary rule we have implemented is, one song per artist.

Ok, let’s crack on with songs 15 – 11. Enjoy.


#15 Velvet Two Stripes – “Fire”

While it may seem that the majority of the music we have loved this year has been floaty light and dreamy or full on bright coloured electro-pop, we have still been prone to the odd moment of rocking, and that’s where the ladies of Swiss trio Velvet Two Stripes come in. “Fire” could, we said, be the soundtrack to a Jason Statham starring actioner, all cut scenes and bad-ass walking while the track (and numerous incidental items in the background) explodes around him. Sara wields her guitar like a weapon of mass destruction, letting fly with grinding, wailing licks that could bring a city to its knees and “Fire” is a bluesy riff driven slice of ka-boom that will stir heart, mind and anywhere else that could do with some life injecting into it.



#14 Violet – “Where The Wild Things Grow”

Back in February, we fell hard for a demo from Pixie Geldof’s Violet, properly hard. So much so that the haunting and delicate string arrangement and deep, languid vocals of “Where The Wild Things Grow” has lingered on rotation ever since. While we continue to wait patiently for a fully mastered version that thus far hasn’t come, we remain bewitched by the demo’s rich, soaring beauty and more Lana than Lana sensibilities. It is simply gorgeous.



#13 Blood Orange – “Chamakay”

In the Kindness directed video for “Chamakay”, the lead single from the second Blood Orange album, Cupid Deluxe, Dev Hynes can be seen busting out some old school Michael Jackson-esque moves in a variety of locations. We totally get why. It’s hard to listen to the smooth, soulful melodies without feeling compelled to indulge in a little armography and leg flickering yourself. Featuring the sultry voice of Caroline Polachek from Chairlift, “Chamakay” channels Terence Trent D’arby, D’Angelo and “Liberian Girl” crooning MJ into slow jam R’n’B grooves as a sexy sax sound disguises the heaviness of emotion within. Like Polachek’s vocal, the track is alluring and exotic, like the silhouette of a belly dancer seen across a smoky room, undulating and mesmerising all who are lucky enough to cast their eyes upon her.



#12 Ms Mr – “Fantasy”

Featuring Lizzie’s now trademark husky vocals, “Fantasy” saw MS MR embark on something bigger and more vibrant than their previous tracks. Painting from a broader palette, the result is a wonderful explosion of pop sound and colour; it’s effervescent and infectious. The drums are incessant, driving pulsating rhythms that evoke memories of Florence and the Machine but while never losing any of that glorious MS MR darkness and intrigue. “Fantasy” is a tune that should be sung loudly while dancing to wildly.



#11 Dancing Years – “Here’s To My Old Friends”

Our first exposure to Leeds based five-piece Dancing Years came in the form of soaring orchestral beauty and watercolours of emotion and sentiment. Their debut single, “Here’s To My Old Friends” plucks at the heartstrings, especially of those older listeners whose friends are no longer seen as often as they might like. Like reading an old diary or looking through an old photo album, it’s full of warm remorse, happy memories that bring a smile to your face and a tear to the eye. Like watching the sun set on the last day of summer, it’s plaintive and beautiful and as the sun finally falls, the violins rise and let out a mournful, yearning cry for a time that is gone but will never be forgotten.



Later on today we’ll reveal who made it into the Top 10 and then tomorrow, it’s the Top 5 and our favourite track of the year!

2013 Tracks Of The Year – #20 – 16

9 Dec

Tracks of 2013 - 20-16

Here we go then with the second part of our Tracks of the Year countdown. After revealing the tracks that hit the spots marked 25 – 21 earlier today, it’s time to unveil the five songs that made it to the 20 – 16 places. But before we do, here’s a quick reminder of the random rules we have imposed upon ourselves.

The song doesn’t have to be an actual single and while that may seem a bit of a cheat, there’s a good reason behind it. We are looking at tracks that were released in one capacity or another over the last 12 months so that amazing album tracks will also be considered. We must note though, if a track was released online this year but will become a single next, then it won’t be included (“Anomaly” by Paper Crows fell foul of this rule for example). The only other arbitrary rule we have implemented is, one song per artist.

With that bit of admin out of the way, here are the songs we ranked from 20 – 16. Enjoy.


#20 Gems – “Medusa UN₡U₮”

We were originally going to put Gems’ “Medusa” here, but then, just a few days ago, they went and posted an uncut version of the track with an additional couple of minutes opening the track. Additional and different. The breathlessness is still there, the light as a feather monochrome beauty is still there but now the whole thing begins with something a bit more down to earth, a bit more base in tone. It’s still sparse but it doesn’t float, it is tethered to the ground, desperate to break free. These opening two minutes are like a walk through a long corridor in a stately home. Polished black and white tiles lead us to a great atrium where “Medusa” takes flight to the open sky above. It’s just wonderful.



#19 John Grant – “GMF”

He is the greatest motherfucker that we’re ever gonna meet (well, we hope to meet at least, it’s not happened yet) and on “GMF”, John Grant has no problem telling us. On an album that’s about as open and honest as it can get, “GMF” is one of many gorgeous and glorious highpoints. Introspective, self-depreciating, witty, angry, defiant, bombastic, broken, it runs a gamut of emotions while simultaneously sounding like one of the most sublime pieces of music around. The melody whispers and swirls like a solo waltz in the midst of shrapnel from a shattered and exploded relationship. Detritus lies all around, a memory here, a keepsake there, a heart still and cold discarded forlornly to one side as John stoically rises and falls through it all, bloodied but unbowed.



#18 Mononoke – “Alice”

Who Mononoke actually is, may remain a mystery for the time being but there’s nothing secretive about how sublime her debut track, “Alice” is. It’s a single tear of exquisite emotion with simple and stark chords alternating with finger clicks as the vocals caress the memories of a life that never was. It’s a beautifully haunting ballad that uses the imagery of Alice In Wonderland as a metaphor for something altogether more heart wrenching and bewitchingly beautiful.



#17 Mega Emotion – “Brains”

With their debut track, Mega Emotion announced themselves to the world with big seventies pop guitars and neo-disco basslines, brash, angular riffage and dark electro flashes. “Brains” is hyper addictive and bold, raw and powerful. The soft, cool (as the other side of the pillow) female vocals are superbly juxtaposed with the frenetic, non-stop energy of the track, and while you can’t get it out of your head, you still feel like it’s going to destroy you with its massive hooks and chaotically brilliant sound.



#16 Lorde – “Royals”

We came very late to the Lorde party this year, having somehow managed to not hear a damn thing by her until deep into autumn. We’d wondered what all the fuss was about and then, on hearing “Royals”, we got it. There have, evidently, been many arguments and discussions about her stance within the song (aspiration, envy, apathy etc) but all that is secondary to the quality of the music itself. For regardless of what else it may or may not be, or what people want it to be, it is a fantastic piece of pop. Lorde’s rich, soulful vocal resonates against the sparse beat and barely there tune. It’s bold and confident, yet restrained and understated. In fact, perfectly, it is the complete opposite of the brash in your face bombardment of the bling fuelled homogenised pop she is discussing in the song, and better than anything else that has come from those hit factories all year.



So that concludes the second part of our countdown, come back tomorrow for part three and the tracks we ranked 15 – 11.