30. Vampire Weekend - YaHey
Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City is a spiritual album, referring to both religion and the glorious city of New York. “Ya Hey” is the lyrical trickery of Ezra Koenig and his hip-hop influences. “Ya Hey” acts as an insightful song referencing the almighty God, using the Outkast reverse title to play with a Hebrew saying – which is why the Chipmunk high pitched vocals are completely necessary and valuable. It’s a Vampire Weekend track without the need of an electric guitar.
29. Yo La Tengo - Ohm
Yo La Tengo are one of the oldest independent rock bands still willing to release music in the same style as their humble origins. “Ohm” is Fade’s album opener, and my god does it open the market up. It’s always interesting to hear Yo La Tengo create a rock song with simplicity at its core. “Ohm” is a one chord song, with an extra note being played on the lead – for nearly seven minutes. It never grows old, it doesn’t fall off key – it’s just Yo La Tengo doing what they do best.
28. Owen - Love Is Not Enough
Mike Kinsella has been involved in so many bands in the last 20 years it’s difficult to keep track. His one consistent focus however has been his own solo project, owen and his releases under that moniker have been very consistent. This was the case with this year’s L’ami Du Pueple. Its tunes were exemplary and none more so than "Love is Not Enough". Kinsella has been married for a few years now and has two kids of his own. His early American Football days of woe and teenage heartbreak are long gone but with lyrics that seem to very touchingly capture the difficulties of managing being a touring musician, a husband and father, it makes the distant memory of American Football a less tragic loss.
27. Cloud Boat - Drèan
A voice and a guitar; many great songs have kept to such musical duologues. Many more have been passed on, replicated and fed to the masses as some pinnacle definition of musical narration. "Drèan" was a perfect example of such simplicity reaching complexly shattering power - Tom Clarke’s attentively soft but provoking vocals washing over the silence of the track. And with acoustic guitars nimbly following suit, a latter blanket of relayed electrics covering over, Cloud Boat’s minimal palette and synthetic pulses gave way to a track as finely considered as their album would eventually wholeheartedly offer.
26. Suede - Barriers
If britpop idols Suede were to return with a bang, they needed to prove two things: one, age was no deterrent for creativity, and two, yet another rock reforming would bring with it more than just some hollow desire for the green. "Barriers" not only proved Suede had plenty to offer in expressing such lovesick swirls of rock in 2013, but amid the track’s blaring guitar riffs and Brett Anderson’s emphatic wall of vocals, it excelled at pushing Suede’s once glam rock background into a distinctly darker exuberance of once fashionably young British cynicism…now grown-up, grown-out and struggling with lingered desires.
25. Lorde - Tennis Court
Lorde’s Pure Herein is a fantastic album from start to finish, and the opening track “Tennis Court” takes us through the teenage years of New Zealand’s biggest thing since the Lord of the Rings filming location. “Tennis Court” utilises a fresh, heavily reverberated electronic beat, with unique production more alike Burial than Sky Ferreira. Lorde has the audience wrapped up in her own little kingdom with “Tennis Court”, and the whole package is the reason why Pure Herein is such a fantastic album – which deserves the praise, and deserves its singles being on this list.
24. Sigur Rós - Brennisteinn
For all those who dared relegate Sigur Rós to soundtrack mere countless nature documentaries and the like, "Brennisteinn" made no attempt to shun what was a hefty reminder as to the Icelandic troupe’s origins as left-field explorers of the colder, isolated region of experimentation. Thus, like Von’s intense (and underrated) orchestration of less-than-lush soundscapes, Sigur Rós’ darker, sonic ventures, dragged its listeners from the calm and soothing qualities of previous, and instead - through a malevolent-like majesty of sludgy, gritty guitars and stormy percussion hits - reminded us (and countless broadcasters more notably) that nature, be it animalistic or geological, can be as violently afflictive as it is delectable.
23. CHVRCHES - Gun
'You'd better run from here with everything you own' CHVRCHES' seemingly innocent-looking lead figure Lauren Mayberry offers in the opening moments of "Gun". And for a track seemingly capable in more-than-revealing its darker side via sprinkles of crystalline synths mixed with buzzing saw variants, CHVRCHES precarious balance paid off in showcasing their more personal afflictions of fame and outside hostility that Mayberry addresses with prowess and bold focus. But more-so, with a clear warning laid out, Gun is both an expression of content, and a demand for those to stay well back.
Friday / Saturday night outings will never be the same thanks to Julia Holter. And I profess that in a positive light, as "In The Green Wild" wonderfully lavishes and decorates the listener's state of mind with both charm but more importantly, rhythmic conviction. Mixing silk-like curls of bass strings and glowing vocal harmonies, the track delights in raising emotional linger into the peripherals of our eyes - an already colourful ambience of many a club or social relaxant given a rejuvenate boost that Loud City Song would only expand upon further down the line.
21. Fuck Buttons - The Red Wing
Drawing a comparison with Fuck Buttons' opening bars to The Red Wing, to some marching tirade of onomatopoeia-like salvos, was impossible to escape. But even in its encompassed looping of gun-spewing off-shots, gargantuan riffs and slow-marching hip-hop beats, Fuck Buttons' intention - like many great efforts before it - continually felt one of evolution through devolution. So as the track eventually slid into blaring onslaughts of noise-soaked clashes, the impending war between instrumentation may have been colossal, but the greater consequence it seemed was well on its way to becoming realized.