The 30 Best Songs of 2013 — So Far

Top 30 Songs of 2013, So far

Deafheaven - SunbatherDeafheaven – “Dream House”
From Sunbather
(Deathwish Inc.)

There’s a lot about “Dream House” that’s conventionally metal — it’s loud, it’s heavy, it’s fast, and George Clarke screams like someone’s ripping out his soul. But once you get past the easy hallmarks of genre and focus on the sound and arrangement, you’ll find something far rarer in black metal — joy. – JT


Disclosure - White NoiseDisclosure – “White Noise” (Feat. AlunaGeorge)
From Settle
(PMR)

AlunaGeorge make some pretty spectacular futurepop on their own, but when paired with UK duo Disclosure, the result becomes all the more magical. “White Noise” is the gorgeous, lush and propulsive result of that marriage, a dance single to shame all others in 2013. – JT


foxygen - no destructionFoxygen – “No Destruction”
From We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
(Jagjaguwar)

Foxygen come armed with an arsenal pulled right from their record collections.  From the Stones-y swagger, Dylan-esque wit and bluesy piano and organ, the band gets every detail right. Of course, all of that wouldn’t mean anything if “No Destruction” wasn’t so damn contagious. – CK


John Grant - Pale Green GhostsJohn Grant – “Glacier”
From Pale Green Ghosts
(Partisan)

Epic in scope, true at heart, necessarily vulgar in message. Grant has the saddest voice this side of Mark Eitzel, except he knows, somehow, the times will catch up to him. – PP


Iceage - You're NothingIceage – “Coalition”
From You’re Nothing
(Matador)

The members of Denmark’s Iceage tend not to smile much onstage, but You’re Nothing finds the band making angst-ridden post-punk sound unusually fun, particularly “Coalition,” a careening punk rocker that climaxes in a scream of “Excess!” – JT


KEN Mode - EntrenchKEN Mode – “The Terror Pulse”
From Entrench
(Season of Mist)

Candian post-hardcore thrashers KEN Mode titled this highlight from their fifth album perfectly; as it grunts and seethes its way to an abrasive conclusion, Jesse Matthewson’s wail of “Say goodbye to the man you once knew!” comes across as both determined and frightening. – JT


The Knife - A tooth for an eyeThe Knife – “A Tooth for an Eye”
From Shaking the Habitual
(Mute)

From a lyrical standpoint, The Knife’s “A Tooth For An Eye” is a descendent of Jawbox’s “Mirrorful,” casting a critical eye toward history as its told from questionable sources. But musically it’s classic Knife — textured, complex, polyrhythmic and absolutely stunning. – JT


Kvelertak - MeirKvelertak – “Spring Fra Livet”
From Meir
(Roadrunner)

In a year that has seen more than a few metal artists push the genre forward, Kvelertak has done likewise in a more understated way. The black n’ roll Meir standout “Spring Fra Livet” makes this case pretty convincingly, seamlessly combining blastbeats, black metal screams, and a party atmosphere into a bizarrely fun but truly incendiary hybrid. With unmistakable Southern rock, gang vocals and a pure black metal bridge, Kvelertak rewrites the metal rulebook completely here and has a great time doing it. – CB


Local Natives - BreakersLocal Natives – “Breakers”
From Hummingbird
(Frenchkiss)

Plenty of indie rock bands have made noble attempts at taking on a “big indie” sound, i.e. massive arrangements, emotional crescendos, Arcade Fire comparisons. Yet Los Angeles’ Local Natives understand that the best way to make a big sound count most is to use it sparingly. And so on “Breakers,” the band spends much of the time in hushed mode, but brings out the big guns for that overpowering rush of adrenaline during its immaculate choruses. – JT


Laura Marling - Once I Was an EagleLaura Marling – “Devil’s Resting Place”
From Once I Was An Eagle
(Ribbon Music)

The best song on one of the year’s best albums, “Devil’s Resting Place” is a showcase in deliberate musical arrangement, using spare and restrained instrumentation to build to bursts of rousing, powerful percussion. Marling’s lyrics — with their confident delivery, controlled emotion, and sultry undertone — match the production’s sense of care perfectly, never letting on too much or getting out of control even in the temporary explosions of sound during the soaring chorus. This track all but closes out Side One of the record, and it does it so convincingly that it feels as if Side Two isn’t necessary (but, boy, am I glad that it’s there).  – CB

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