Hey, just because I don’t really write about music anymore doesn’t mean I don’t still have opinions on music. See, here’s, like, 25 whole opinions. Plus I put them all in a handy-dandy Spotify playlist that is in no particular order. Now, in actually somewhat of a particular order, here’s 25 really good songs I heard in 2013, which was a year, but is no longer this year.
Ha Ha Tonka – Lessons
Ha Ha Tonka is such a great and underrated band, and they played perhaps the best show I saw all year at Seattle’s Tractor Tavern in October. “Lessons” grooves a hell of a lot more than you would expect from an alt-country band, and it’s catchy as hell.
Queens of the Stone Age – If I Had a Tail
Oh yeah, my favorite band released an album this year and it was the best album of the year and “If I Had a Tail” is a fantastic idea for a song so there you go.
Neko Case – Night Still Comes
In my opinion this was Neko’s strongest album yet vocally, and the chorus (aided by a who’s who of harmony singers, most recognizably Jim James) of “You never held it at the right angle” just gets right into my feel places.
Brass Bed – Suspension of Vison
Brass Bed is a rare Spotify Discover hit for me. The Secret Will Keep You album may have been the one I listened to most this year, and this song was the highlight every time. It’s very dynamic, starting as slow and soft as can be, only to drive through some classic pop flourishes until it blasts into a throbbing, chaotic final half-minute.
On An On – Cops
There’s a wordless female vocal line in this song that offsets the trippy bass and breathy male vocals so well. It’s like my favorite thing.
Janelle Monae – Q.U.E.E.N.
I’m not sure I can explain my appreciation for Janelle Monae, but I think she’s incredible. All I know is she is badass, and this song is basically a tribute to the best of early ’80s funk so I dance to it – a lot.
Midlake – Antiphon
For a band that lost its lead singer and primary songwriter before their 2013 album, Midlake did a remarkable job pressing on without sounding like a parody of itself or taking an immediate left turn from relevance. This is an excellent record, and this song sticks in their depressed Fleetwood Mac sweet spot.
Gary Numan – Love Hurt Bleed
I think my biggest discovery of 2013 is that the guy who made “Cars” in 1979 is an amazing, if moderately terrifying, artist. Basically he’s the king of creepiness – still. Just imagining his pale-white death stare while singing “EVERYTHING BLEEDS” gives me chills.
Sound City – Mantra
Yeah, like Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and Trent Reznor are gonna record a song together and I’m not gonna love the fucking shit out of it. C’mon man.
Polica – Very Cruel
The intro provides a powder-keg worthy build-up, but it takes you on a cool little trip-hop bass line ride for a while before completely blowing up all over the place.
Dr. Dog – The Truth
The ’60s called. They said Dr. Dog is pretty groovy.
Hand in the Attic – Tree Song
Yes, Hand in the Attic is my band, but I didn’t play on this song so it’s not narcissism. Our frontman, Alex Fox, really outdid himself with this supremely forlorn tale of having to say goodbye when neither party really wants to.
Alpine – Gasoline
How this isn’t a gigantic pop hit is beyond me. Isn’t this exactly what you look for in a pop song? Am I old now or something?
Local Natives – Black Balloons
I always appreciate a song that knows when to kill off and bring in various instruments. Local Natives does it about as good as anybody on this.
Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside – Roll Around
It’s just an impossibly cute song that would have fit in the late ’50s if it wasn’t for the very un-’50s lyrical choices.
Foals – Inhaler
Hey. Listen up. Stadium rock doesn’t have to be dead if you don’t want it to be. Foals knows.
Arcade Fire – Normal Person
Really, it’s just that little guitar lick on the tiny strings during the chorus. It’s a fairly minor thing, but a total stroke of awesome.
Cults – High Road
Cults’ first album was very heavy on ’60s pop influences, but they jumped up a decade by adding a heavy dose of ’70s edge on Static. The bass lines are killer throughout the record, but no more than on “High Road.”
Speedy Ortiz – Hitch
The ’90s called. They want Speedy Ortiz to hop on the Lollapalooza bus because they’re the fuckin’ tits.
Washed Out – It All Feels Right
Pretty sure this is the soundtrack to every utopian daydream ever.
Mutual Benefit – Advanced Falconry
Winner of this year’s Best Combined Use of Violin and Banjo in a Goddamn Gorgeous Folk Song Grammy. Calling it.
Rogue Wave – College
This was the year it occurred to me that I need to make space for Rogue Wave somewhere in my Top 20 favorite bands. The skittering drums and chimey-ass guitars will never tire for me, and Zach Rogue sure ain’t suck at writing melodies.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – Holy Roller
What a wonderful banjo-driven tune. Did not see that coming from Thao, but hot damn, I’ll take it.
Hooded Fang – Ode to Subterrania
I listened to this band’s entire discography after I heard this on the radio for the first time, and it was the best hour-plus of listening this year. Hooded Fang just has a fun mix of garage-y goodness and alt-rock weirdistry.
Waxahatchee – Dixie Cups and Jars
It’s about as simplistic as it gets, but something about this vocalist mixed with the very unfussy electric guitar just works for me.