Friday, December 27, 2013

Top Songs of 2013

As 2013 winds down and I review all the albums that came my way, this list is getting tougher and tougher to make. If you want the obvious choices (Daft Punk, Lorde, Robin Thicke), you've come to the wrong place. I don't listen to the radio or pay attention to sales; I just want to find the best music to soundtrack my crazy life. This list was created by songs that made a real connection, whether that be singing at the top of my lungs or dancing like a fool, I've done plenty of that with the songs below...

20. Telekinesis - Symphony
I'll let Michael B. Lerner, who records under the name Telekinesis, tell you a little bit about this song. One of the many great tracks on his album, Dormarion.

19. CHVRCHES - Recover
Synth-Pop at its best. It was a good year for the band as they released their debut album and toured nonstop, including opening for Depeche Mode.

18. The Strokes - Chances
The Strokes continue to be too cool for anybody, including themselves. They released a surprisingly different album and spent the rest of the year refusing to play a single note. Chances is too good to forget, even if they probably wish we would.

17. The Joy Formidable - Silent Treatment
Their album, Wolf's Law, came out of nowhere for me. I wouldn't even say I was a casual fan before this year, but the talent was too great to ignore, starting with this beauty.

16. Pearl Jam - Future Days
A life-long fan and proud Ten Club member, I managed to see these guys 3 times this year, including their legendary show at Wrigley Field. You can have Sirens, I'll keep this one.

15. Danny Brown - Dip
Danny Brown had a great year and I can assure you his album, Old, will find a spot on my Top Albums post. But for now let's just bask in his genius flow.

14. Kings of Leon - Wait For Me
 Amid rumors of infighting and alcoholism, Caleb Followill and Kings of Leon returned with another slow-burning single and all was forgiven. The real test will their upcoming tour with stellar opening act, Gary Clark Jr.

13. Haim - Honey & I
Haim have been receiving all sorts of accolades this year, from VH1's Artist to Watch to musical guest on Saturday Night Live. After hearing their debut album, Days Are Gone, I can tell you the praise is well deserved.

12.Classixx - Holding On
Holding On was my summer jam. I tried playing it everywhere, from barbeques to birthday parties, and I've yet to hear a complaint.

11.!!! - Except Death
Fact: Once Except Death has begun, I will under no circumstances turn it off. "Infectious" isn't even close when that guitar kicks in and rides out.

10. Vampire Weekend - Step
Vampire Weekend sure have grown up. While there is no shortage of energy on Modern Vampires of the City, they spend an awful lot of time in the slow lane reminiscing. Don't we all.

9. Phoenix - Bourgeois
Only Phoenix could make a song like this; from the hazy synth to the "Sha La La's", it made the agonizing wait of 4 years between albums almost worth it.

8. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
Just when you think Arcade Fire can't get any cooler, they release an album produced by James Murphy and single featuring David Bowie.

7. Volcano Choir - Alaskans
The collaboration between Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) and members of Collections of Colonies of Bees returned with an amazing album. Front to back, Repave, is one of the most cohesive albums to come out in 2013 and Alaskans is warm enough to melt a foot of snow.

6. Chance the Rapper - Favorite Song (ft. Childish Gambino)
I love that Chance the Rapper is from Chicago and gets so much more love than Chief Keef or anybody on that drill scene. A guest spot from Childish Gambino made this the standout track from Acid Rap.

5. John Mayer - Wildfire
Barely a year between albums, John Mayer changed the focus from Folk/Americana to a sound he likes to call "Acid Country". Imagine if the Grateful Dead jammed with acoustic guitars and you might get the idea. Let's not speak of the Katy Perry duet...

4. Major Lazer - Mashup The Dance (ft. The Partysquad & Ward 21)
I can't even describe what happens when this song - and the rest of Free The Universe - comes on. The best part of my year was seeing them at Lollapalooza and realizing I wasn't the only one losing my mind.

3. Justin Timberlake - That Girl
At this point Justin Timberlake could write a pop song in his sleep. What sets him apart is a song like That Girl. A+ on those horns too.

2. Disclosure - F For You
I honestly didn't think these guys could live up the hype. I was dead wrong. It's almost criminal that two brothers barely hitting their 20's should make music this good. Watch this video in full screen.

1. Kanye West - New Slaves
 It's easy to hate Kanye, but then he drops something like this. It's a shame people dismiss the message and crazy lyrics because you'd rather see his latest rant on TMZ.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ra Ra Riot - Live 2013 EP

Ra Ra Riot have released a free 6-song EP as a thank you to fans after a very busy year. The gift, Live 2013, was recorded during their Fall tour and features 4 songs from their latest album, Beta Love. Too Too Too Fast, off their debut album and fan favorite, Boy, round out the release.

Stream it below, or download it here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

José González - Stay Alive

José González has released a video for, Stay Alive, a song written by Ryan Adams and featured on the soundtrack for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The video, directed by Emmett Malloy, follows José through a usual day for us 9 to 5 cubicle dwellers before he bolts out for better things.

The song built on a ticking clock and piano, is one of five González contributed to the film, including two from his band, Junip. His signature nylon guitar strings may be missing, but the emotion and hope is classic González, especially the line: There is a truth and it's on our side/Dawn is coming, open your eyes.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is in theaters Christmas Day. The soundtrack hits stores tomorrow and features music from Rogue Wave, Jack Johnson, and Of Monsters and Men.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Top 10 Remixes of 2013

Another year has passed and Electronic Dance Music seems to be getting bigger and bigger. Everywhere you looked a new music festival dedicated to EDM was popping up, or beats normally heard in the wee hours were suddenly in commercials.

And so a relatively simple decision was made. Let's list ten this year!

10. Oliver - Control (Nom De Strip Remix)
I featured Oliver's Mechanical EP earlier this year and thought there wasn't much room for improvement until I heard the Nom De Strip remix. Basically, he took it to 11; cramming every second of his remix with nonstop energy making for a hell of a ride.

9. Maroon 5 - Love Somebody (Penguin Prison Remix) [Free Download]
Forget for a minute that you hate Maroon 5. Not that easy, is it? Now listen to Penguin Prison's remix of Love Somebody. If you're anything like me, you're hooked. It's the catchiest remix of the year and takes the term "guilty pleasure" to new heights for me personally.

8. Disclosure - You & Me (Baauer Remix)
7 months later and I'm still going to this remix when I need a little push. This isn't the last you've seen of Disclosure. They had a HUGE year and this spazzed out remix from Baauer proved he wasn't just that Harlem Shake dude.

7. Daft Punk - Get Lucky (Vanderway Edit) [Free Download]
Talk about taking a song and making it your own. The Vanderway edit from French collective, L'ordre, was constructed from the 30 second teaser and released before the actual song ever hit the airwaves. I'll leave the debate of whether it's a true remix or edit to the important people. Two million plays later, it's obviously a hit.

6. Justin Timberlake - Suit & Tie (Dillon Francis Remix) [Free Download]
It took Justin Timberlake seven years to release a new album and instantly on the strength of Suit & Tie, it was like he never left. I'm not sure if 2 albums were really necessary, but that's for another time. Right now let's just enjoy this remix from Dillon Francis and the filthy things he does with the vocals.

5. RAC - Let Go (Sir Sly Remix)
Speaking of vocals, Sir Sly is a genius for turning this song into a pleading, soulful remix. It's a perfect example of what can happen when you just slow down and turn that little knob on the pitch control.

4. Major Lazer - Jah No Partial (Heroes x Villains Remix)
Pretty much any Major Lazer song will get the party started, and a quick glance at their Soundcloud account would show you there is no shortage of remixes. But Heroes x Villains remix of Jah No Partial is, as the kids say, BANANAS.

3. Depeche Mode - Soothe My Soul (Destructo Remix)
Leave it Depeche Mode to release a single in 3 separate formats. People still buy maxi-singles? The legions of faithful DM fans do and I'm sure a few of them even managed to find this limited, vinyl only cut. Destructo manages to take the boys deeper and darker than they've been in years.

2. Dan Croll - In/Out (William Carl Jr. Remix)
If you're asking: "Who's Dan Croll?" My hope is that by this time next year, I won't have to answer. Everything this guy puts out is gold, and this remix by William Carl Jr. is just the icing on the cake. A perfect summer song, which of course he followed up with a perfect winter song; his latest single, Home.

1. Rihanna - Stay (Branchez Remix) [Free Download]
Full disclosure; I am not a Rihanna fan. I don't own any of her albums, I couldn't even tell you more than 3 songs she sings. But this remix is undeniably good. Like, "stop what you're doing, who is this and why is it 10 times better than the original" good. Branchez killed this and to be honest; it wasn't even close, this is the #1 track by miles...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tokyo Police Club - Argentina (Parts I, II, III)

Tokyo Police Club have released a lyric video for their new song, Argentina (Parts I, II, III), the presumed first single off their new album. The album will be there third, and almost four years since 2010's Champ.

Clocking in at almost 9 minutes, it seems the boys from Canada have a lot to say. Other than the length, not much has changed. They still have great melodies, chugging guitars and the knack for finding the perfect spot for synthesizers.

No release date or title yet, but the album is expected in early 2014, on Mom + Pop.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Childish Gambino - 3005 [Video]

Childish Gambino will release his second album, Because The Internet, next week and today he debuted the video for 3005. While the song and entertaining video would be enough to merit a post, it seems he's hell bent on breaking the internet or at least my twitter feed with some very exciting extras to go along with the music.

Last night he tweeted excerpts of a screenplay that should accompany the album. He is also using the site, to display visuals with notes of when to play his songs. Then there is the exhibit in conjunction with Rough Trade's new Brooklyn store that will recreate Gambino's bedroom and offer a free in-store performance on Saturday. This doesn't even include his short film, Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, that may or may not be a prelude to the album/screenplay.

Still with me? Whether you choose to completely immerse yourself in every facet or not, the album is very good and currently streaming on iTunes. For now, just watch the video and follow the madness on Twitter...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Band of Horses Announce Acoustic Tour/Album

Band of Horses announced this morning that they will embark on a 13-city "Acoustic Tour", including a stop at the Vic Theatre. Those of you that braved the cold on Black Friday might have seen the limited 7" single, Live at the Ryman, which included two songs: No One's Gonna Love You and A Song for You.

The band recorded both of their April shows at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Ten of those songs will be featured on Acoustic at the Ryman, available February 11th.

For those of you that have never been to the Ryman, please do yourself a favor and get there. Originally the Union Gospel Tabernacle and built in 1892, the venue seats roughly 2200 in very cozy church pews/benches instead of seats.

Give a listen to Neighbor, from the upcoming release and be sure to sign up for Band of Horses mailing list, as an artist presale will begin this Friday.

1. Marry Song
2. Slow Cruel Hands of Time
3. Detlef Schrempf
4. Everything’s Gonna Be Undone
5. No One’s Gonna Love You
6. Factory
7. Older
8. Wicked Gil
9. The Funeral
10. Neighbor