Round Three: Top Ten Music Finds for 2013
2013 was not quite what I expected it to be when I reviewed my audio lists compared to my memories. I spent (what I thought) much of it in study for classes and class prep for classes I was teaching. I can’t concentrate on things like this (memory stuff) with a lot of funky beats or interesting stuff so Classic Study music, Ambient Space and Soundscapes, John Williams and Vangelis/Kitaro were common, mostly listened through Spotify. I know about Pandora but there seems to be less drifting (and exploration) when you put in a particular band/group/performer. I like that I can search by style easier in Spotify (but I’m also at the point of paying for a sub to remove those annoying ads…)
That doesn’t mean I didn’t find intersting music or something other than Moonlight Sonata to populate this years list – far from it. Lots of new stuff with some familiar genres with a few genres taking a back seat this year. No J/K Pop (insert sad emoji here) and only one Dubstep inclusion this time (sorry John;) )
I do admit feel like I’m becoming a bit of a hipster – no guilt though. Bands like Walk the Moon, AWOLNATION, and Fall Out Boy did pop up a lot in my listening history though, replacing a bit of heavier stuff (though they’re here too!)
There were a bunch of songs that had a lot of plays in my history but also made the big time so I didn’t include them here on this list as everyone else found out about them too 😉 (Lordes: Royals, Mackelmore: Thrift Shop, Robin Thicke,: Blurred Lines, etc.)
Well, as Elvis so impressively said; “A little less conversation, a little more action….”
On to the list for 2013!
Marina and the Diamonds: Homewrecker
We’ll get this girl-pop selection out of the way right off the bat. England has been putting out a lot of musically talented, fun, and snarky birds as of late. Imogen Heap, Lily Allen, Katy B (see 2011’s list) and La Roux (see below) all fall into this new waved of British female pop stars. Big, lush, full sounds layered over by an unusually powerful voice for such a small woman. Big of range with smooth transitions in her vocal breakpoints are something to listen for. Homewrecker is a bit of fun with tongue in check admission that girls aren’t innocent and they know it when they’re being bad. Poppy, insightful (listen to the lyrics) and sardonic – fun to listen to. The rest of her music is similarly lush and layered.
Fall Out Boy: My Songs know What You Did Last Night
The first of my “Help, I’m turning Hipster!” Honestly, a great move your body, fist pumping beats with a bit of soaring vocals and a neat wailing backup that fits together as a high intensity hipster anthem. Not sure WHY your songs want to know what I did in the dark but it sounds cool when you sing it that way.
Five Finger Death Punch: Lift Me Up (was this or Dying Breed or No One Gets Left Behind)
When Five Finger Death Punch popped up on my musical radar about five years ago, just the name alone made me want to hear it. I was little let down (as I am about much of modern heavy metal music) as they were doing what many bands at the time were; Vocally aggressive refrains then letting you down with very light sounding choruses. It’s like they wimped out when it came to the point of their message, definitely not the heavy metal I grew up with. This newest album has a LOT of good things going for it and they stay constantly angry sounding, BRAVO! This is the song that got me to listen to them again after a lackluster start. I could also add No One Gets Left Behind and Dying Breed to this as all are very hard driving and basically gonna kick yer ass material. It helps too that this song is co-sung with one of my all time favorite vocalists (Uncle Rob!) Good stuff!
Lots of similar styles this year and I didn’t want to spam the list. In the intense, plodding, slow-motion intensity song category it was a tough call between this one and Imagine Dragons Radioactive. I choose this one not because the song is better than Radioactive, or because the video is better (it isn’t really), it’s the video a couple of wanna be comedy writers made for it. Gotta love it when you search Youtube for the song and the fan video has more views and comes up before the official video 🙂
Every time I listen to this song, I absolutely tie the imagery back to this video and I find it hilarious. Just saying it’s cool and I love the monster face towards the end – funny. That’s why I linked to the other video and not the original. 🙂
Walk the Moon: Anna Sun
Warning, another hipster tune incoming! Someone found a pop use for the genre of ambient music created by taking anything and slowing it down 100 times. Guitar and background-wise it’s more reminiscent of Cocteau Twins with a bounce and male lead vocals. Light, ethereal and poppy, which seems to be the flip side of the hipster angst, more hipster pop.
Excision/Downlink: Existence VIP
My dub step pic for the year. I make no excuses and have no regrets, much like the electro-rave stuff I’ve got buried everywhere. The Transformers-esque intro and vocals are good and deep, machinery grinding in the background, all building to the hammer falls of the “Bass Cannon!” This one should be listened to at horrific levels, either in a good pair of cans (headphones for the laypeople out there) or a system that can drive down to around 10Hz-12Hz with some authority. Makes you feel like Megatron.
KMFDM: Ave Maria
This one is a bit of a reunion for me. I listened to KMFDM a lot during their Niave-Angst period but kinda fell off after that. ONe of the founding members of industrial noise, I’ve always had a place in my brain for KMFDM since Juke Joint Jezebel but after Angst there was a change and I didn’t stay with them. The addition of Lucretia Cifarelli was a definite improvement and made me revisit the last couple albums and I was pleasantly surprised. Sucks I missed the shop at he House of Blues in Chicago last year by one night (we were staying in the hotel right next door 🙁 )
Diesel: Suasalito Summernight (throwback pick for the year)
I spent some time this year hooked on finding all of the obscure, fun pop stuff form the late 70’s/early 80’s but a few kept coming back to me and made high marks in my playlist .Planet P Projects Why Me? and Mick Smiley’s Magic (Ghostbusters Soundtrack) were close runner ups for this slot but this one is exceptionally fun for me. Nostalgia to a more carefree time plus the fact that you know everyone has heard it, not too many can tell you who it was.
Rival Sons: Keep on Swinging
Nice, bluesy, southern soul, rock-n-roll. Simple and great. Touch choice between this one and Beware the Darkness’ Howl as they’re similar but this one grooves a bit better.
Hint: if you watch the video in the link, skip right to 1:17.
La Roux: Bulletproof
I finish off this year’s list as I started. Fun, British bird. As I’ve mentioned in previous lists, I’m a sucker for a good pop song, especially something that reminds me of the ‘80’s. I felt this even before seeing the video, which just coincides with the 80’s vibe she’s got going. It was a tough choice between this or Tigerlilly though.
A 1980’s Casio keyboard for rhythm and a Yamaha DX7 for melody and you’re off!