Sunday, 1 December 2013

Top 50 Tracks of 2013: 50 - 41

It's a challenge to cut down hundreds of non-single tracks down to 50 - and even then the 50 go through a process of positioning too fierce to be mentioned on our website (think of a Russian Gulag). After much deliberation, the MRD team has narrowed down these cretins and placed them on a list from 50, right down to number one. We take list making very seriously, and placing these was no easy task. Some obvious choices will probably be left off the list, and some unusual tracks will make it on this 50 - so you may discover a 2013 gem in the process.

 50. The Cannanes - Fawn Summer

The Cannanes surprised with this exceptional track from their 14th album Howling at all Hours. “Fawn Summer” is the Yo La Tengo / Sonic Youth-esque sixth track, with swirling electric guitars dominating the tracks progression from a simple three note riff in to a fully blown indie rock masterpiece. It’s something the new bands of this genre can take from – a lesson in independent rock, taught by none other than the 30+ year masters who have never signed to a major record label. 
~Eddie Gibson

49. Franz Ferdinand - The Universe Expanded

For a band whom up until recent had graced our ears with cynically groovy observations of modern life - and thus had established quite a respected reputation as a result - "The Universe Expanded" was a surprise gamble but, like a breath of nostalgically-glistening fresh air, gave Ferdinand's return-to-form forth LP that much needed desire for career-honest advancement. And as the track balanced 60's sci-fi synths with Alex Kapranos' radiant narrative of a couple experiencing check-list romances in reverse order, the risk might have been uncomfortably high, but the pay-off was deservedly and conclusively just.
~Jordan Helm

48. Young Galaxy - Fever

Ultramarine was one of 2013's surprise packages, quickly rising to become (if not atop synth-pop as a genre entirety) MRD's unspoken champion with its colourful melodies and heartfelt lyricism through stunning flashes of confidence and impact. So to come to "Fever" and find not only the music reverting to a kind of bumbling, kiddish hop-scotch of synths and percussion, but also lead vocalist Catherine McCandless' unashamedly, unabashed vibrato, the feelings brimming from out these cork-popping, half-your-age theatrics exerted instead of displeasure, a rejuvenating, taking-part giddiness.
~Jordan Helm 

47. The Flaming Lips – You Lust

With 12 albums under their belt, it was no surprise that The Flaming Lips decided to take their 13th album The Terror in a more unchartered territory. The 13 minute fourth track “You Lust” happens to be the most other worldly on The Terror, taking influence from both krautrock of the 7os, and progressive rock, also of the 70s. This track signals the exit of the plain, simplistic The Flaming Lips of the 00s, and takes the psychedelic sounds of Embryonic in 2009, and shakes it all up with ambience.
~Eddie Gibson 

46. Autechre - Deco Loc

Of all Autechre's algebraic constructs, it's ironic that one of Exai's - and perhaps one of their entire discography's - stand-out defining moments was the stripped-back "Deco Loc". For a track soldiering on for the most part on a sub-bass beat as its driving force, the beauty was in the Rochdale duo's emphasis on this puncturing force as a lone figure amid the negative space surrounding it. And as accompanying beats dispersed and vocal layers vibrated in harmonic resonance, there was something curious but ultimately reassuring about the less is more approach undertaken. But in a track that never pretends to be anything more, it succeeds for that very reason.
~Jordan Helm

45. Vondelpark - Blue Again

Vondelpark’s near instrumental “Blue Again” is a misty perception of blue eyed soul, and late night R&B – but of course there’s 2-step garage and dubstep thrown in there, laying the inner core of Vodelpark’s sound. They released their debut album Seabed this year, and “Blue Again” stands out as the non-single track that ultimately takes the ambience of a Virgin Atlantic safety video, and puts it in a relaxing ‘destination’ setting.
~Eddie Gibson 

44. Four Tet - Parallel Jalabi

“Parallel Jalabi” is the most recognisable track on Four Tet’s most recent album Beautiful Rewind. It’s not as emotionally connected as Four Tet’s (real name Kieran Hebden) previous album There Is Love In You, or as fluid; but as a singled out track, “Parallel Jalabi” takes the reigns as an R&B (PBR&B as it’s called now) influence. Hebden’s spectrums of sounds continue to impress and “Parllel Jalabi” easily comes across as a real highlight, not just in Beautiful Rewind, but in this year’s electronic music.
~Eddie Gibson

43. Everything Everything - Don't Try

By this point on Arc, we'd become accustomed to Jonathan Higgs' crooning spectrum of vocals. And yet, from the very first mountainous plunge into guitar plucks on "Don't Try", it always felt that Everything Everything had saved something intentionally gripping and surprising for the closing chapter. Musically, the Manchester four-piece's flux between jagged alt-rock and tentative harmony was an exciting but pleasurable send-off. But above all, once more it demonstrated Everything Everything's knack for balancing musical venture and layered precedence in a piece distinctively split in delivery, but united once more by the band’s observant confidence. 
~Jordan Helm

42. MGMT - A Good Sadness 

MGMT's self-titled (and long-awaited) third album didn't quite convince its exospheric launchpad towards the stars and beyond, were anything but wishful thinking. But on "A Good Sadness", MGMT's change to their neo-psychedelic pop formulae dabbled in a more sensory bliss between the duo’s present stance between take-off and arrival. The track's asynchronous matching of bleating synthesizers, flared layering and VanWyngarden's eery curiosity tied neatly into the zero-gravity atmosphere of the piece - like accidentally waking from suspended animation and taking in the marvel of a galaxy’s intermittent mystery. 
~Jordan Helm

41. AlunaGeorge - Outlines 

Like Four Tet’s “Parllel Jalabi”, the duo of AlunaGeorge and their album opener “Outlines” instantly becomes an influence to future artists in the electronic / R&B genre. The synthesizers pull out, as Aluna Francis’ whispered vocal sits deep, ready to be heard for the emerging chorus of raised notes and flowing lyrics. AlunaGeorge were highly tipped to be one of 2013’s biggest outputs, but their album Body Music didn’t quite live up to the expectation. However, “Outlines” and its single comrade’s in the first ¼ of the album keep the hope alive that AlunaGeorge can take their music to the next level with more sultry R&B vocals and deep synthesizers in the key of The XX. Read our “Outlines” track review
~Eddie Gibson 

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