The 30 Best Songs of 2013 — So Far

Top 30 Songs of 2013, So far

The National - Trouble Will Find MeThe National – “Sea of Love”
From Trouble Will Find Me
(4AD)

“Sea of Love” is one of the most frenetic moments on the more laid-back Trouble Will Find Me, and not surprisingly, it’s also one of the most satisfying. The parent album proves The National are still awfully effective in a more relaxed state, but “Sea of Love” shows that when they fire on all cylinders, it can result in one of the best anthems of the year to date. – CK


Pharmakon - AbandonPharmakon – “Crawling on Bruised Knees”
From Abandon
(Sacred Bones)

Margaret Chardiet, aka Pharmakon, isn’t known for creating catchy, happy-go-lucky tunes, and the closest she comes to that on her newest album is still a work of sheer terror. “Crawling on Bruised Knees” stomps, lurches, oozes and creeps — it’s dark and it’s intense, but it also happens to sound amazing. – JT


Phosphorescent - Song for ZulaPhosphorescent – “Song for Zula”
From Muchacho
(Dead Oceans)

Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck doesn’t ever stay in one place too long, having done atmospheric folk, lushly arranged alt-country and a set of Willie Nelson covers in the span of a few years. “Song for Zula” is yet another fascinating transition, and one that yields his most emotionally gripping material to date. It’s built on a clack of drum machine and film-score strings, with Houck narrating his own resolve in a moment of vulnerability. It’s tempting to say this is the best song of the year; let’s catch up in six months. – JT


Pissed Jeans - HoneysPissed Jeans – “Bathroom Laughter”
From Honeys
(Sub Pop)

With a brutal pound of fuzz bass and a surge of power chords, “Bathroom Laughter,” the leadoff track on Pissed Jeans’ Honeys, sets off a cavalcade of irresistible chaos. And as usual, Matt Korvette puts an amusing spin on humiliating circumstances, wailing, “You’re in the hallway screaming/ People are trying to get by, but you’re screaming.” – JT


Savages - She WillSavages – “She Will”
From Silence Yourself
(Matador)

If “She Will”’s spare, moody verses weren’t satisfying enough, the assault carried by singer Jehnny Beth’s commanding shouts and Gemma Thompson’s razor sharp riffs in the chorus provide quite the release. It’s an incredibly visceral experience; one that’s perilous, haunting and, oddly enough, danceable. – CK


Thundercat - ApocalypseThundercat – “Heartbreaks + Setbacks”
From Apocalypse
(Brainfeeder)

Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat, has always had it in him to pull off a phenomenal space-soul jam, but he outdid himself on “Heartbreaks + Setbacks.” He downplays his virtuosic bass technique in favor of hooks, but there’s no denying, even in a more accessible setting, he’s on another level. – JT


Toro y Moi - Anything in ReturnToro y Moi – “Say That”
From Anything In Return
(Carpark)

Toro y Moi is making better party music than most these days. While Chaz Bundick ostensibly began his musical under the banner of chillwave, he’s had loftier motives than that, and it pays off on the bumping psychedelic number “Say That.” His vocals are still undeniably chill, but his textured synth funk isn’t just more layered and lush than before, it positively booms. – JT


Vampire Weekend - StepVampire Weekend – “Step”
From Modern Vampires of the City
(XL)

Vampire Weekend has made a pretty formidable career out of taking bits and pieces of different genres, spanning world music and beyond, and condensing it into well executed pop songs. In that sense it seems fitting that a song inspired by a Souls of Mischief track that sampled Grover Washington, Jr. covering Bread is one of their best songs to date. – CK


Kurt vile - wakin on a pretty dayKurt Vile – “Wakin on a Pretty Day”
From Wakin on a Pretty Daze
(Matador)

A solid nine minutes of Kurt Vile seems excessive on its face — the Philadelphia singer-songwriter seems to work perfectly four minutes at a time. But it turns out that listening to Vile work out his issues on an extended dream rock jam is to hear the artist in his most optimal setting. – JT


Yeah Yeah Yeahs - SacrilegeYeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”
From Mosquito
(Interscope)

If Martin Scorsese ever gets tired of using “Gimme Shelter,” there’s a perfectly good successor available in the form of explosive mini-epic “Sacrilege.” The whole of Mosquito suffered from the misfortune of having to live up to an opening track as kickass as this one, though that’s more of a sequencing issue than anything. This piece of art rock perfection is the most classic rock the Yeah Yeah Yeahs ever sounded — the gospel choir certainly helps — and that’s not a slight. If anything, this track goes to show how monumental the NYC trio have become. – JT

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