Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

Top fifteen tracks of 2013

toptracks2013

Toward the end of his 2013 Gift Guide my friend Jason Kottke mentions that by far the thing that has provided him the most joy in 2013 is a music application called Rdio. Jason can get away with saying that because he does not exploit his children for millions and millions of dollars on his mommyblog. If I were to say that I’d be accused of not loving my children enough because if I did then THEY would have brought me the most joy. Listen, I love my kids. They regularly bathe in the one hundred dollar bills I’ve earned by sacrificing their childhood.

Let’s just say that in terms of material items, Rdio is the best thing that has happened to me in the last few years. I have listened to and discovered more music in the last two years than in the whole ten years before that. It has made me feel like a little kid again, sitting there with my boom box, my finger perched over the record button to make sure I hit it the moment a good song came on the radio. Which reminds me, Leta and I had this conversation yesterday:

“Mom, did you have Barbies when you were a kid?”

“Of course. I had tons and tons of Barbies. My sister and I—”

“You mean the old fashioned kind?”

“Excuse me, the what?”

“You know, the really old ones like when they first came out.”

“Leta, I played with Barbies in the Eighties.”

“Right, that’s what I mean.”

“Barbies have been around since the Fifties.”

“But the Eighties were a long time ago.”

“NO. PANGAEA WAS A LONG TIME AGO.”

New albums are released on Tuesdays, and it’s become a ritual of mine to go through all that new music and set aside tracks that catch my attention. Up until Rdio I was one of those people who bought and listened to entire albums until I had grown tired of them. Only then would I go looking for something else to listen to. My listening behavior is totally different now: there are only three albums that I listened to this year from start to finish more than once. Instead I’m listening to playlists I’ve made with all sorts of songs by different artists, and the result is this wide and varied soundtrack to my year. I couldn’t love it more.

Here are my favorite tracks from 2013. Half of this list could have been made up with songs off of Arcade Fire’s newest album, but I decided not to do that to you. I’m saving that love letter/essay for another time.

(Please feel free to leave a link to some of the music you’ve discovered. I’m always looking for suggestions.)

15. Atlas Genius, “Trojans”

14. !!!, “One Girl / One Boy”

13. Lightning Dust, “Diamond”

12. Local Natives, “Ceilings”

11. Kaskade, “Something Something”

10. Tegan and Sara, “Now I’m All Messed Up”

9. Cold War Kids, “Lost That Easy”

8. Autre Ne Veut, “Counting”

7. The Head and the Heart, “Shake”

6. Typhoon, “The Lake”

5. Sin Fang, “Look At The Light”

4. Disclosure, “Latch”

3. Lorde, “Buzzcut Season”

2. Arcade Fire, “Here Comes The Night Time”

1. The National, “Demons”

  • Lara

    I’ve only heard a couple of these and usually consider myself pretty on top of things, musically, so thank you! I am going to check the rest out as we seem to have similar taste. Although I didn’t think the newest National was as strong as past albums, “Demons” is most certainly my favorite track.

  • lady lawyer
  • LizLemon

    Love this track from Haim’s album (though i love them all). They sound like Sheryl Crow and Amy Grant had adorable triplets and Shania Twain would come over and hang out sometimes. Ahhh the 90’s, the nostalgia is real.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfszRkA9QsE

  • Alex

    That Tegan and Sara album has been on repeat all year. SO good! In terms of music to check out: River Tiber — 23 year old guy from Toronto who writes, produces and records all his own music, shoots and edits his own videos, is crazy talented and his music is so heartbreaking and cool.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75jgLU01s88 — The City (my fave)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Q4DVG53iQ — The Star Falls

  • Aaron

    I’ve done the same thing in recent years on MOG not Rdio (and now I can’t switch ever because that’s where my playlists reside, but that’s a different story). I’m not quite finished with my top of the year list, but it might contain: Arcade Fire – Normal Person, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Rooftop, Junip – Line of Fire, Sigur Ros – Kveikur, No Joy – Here Tarot Lies, Moby – Almost Home, Daft Punk – Instant Crush, BOY – Little Numbers, Elvis Costello & the Roots – If I Could Believe, Grouplove – I’m With You, Okkervil River – It Was My Season, Atlas Genius – Electric, Lucius – Don’t Just Sit There, Unknown Mortal Orchestra – One At A Time, Cloud Cult – Complicated Creation, Chvrches – Recover, Small Multiples – Know My Name, The Dodos – Transformer, The Civil Wars – The One That Got Away, and Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – We The Common. The whole (working) list: http://mog.com/m/playlist/2665545?ci=40000

  • Tony’s Texas Hots

    James Blake’s “Retrograde” is a pretty excellent song.
    http://youtu.be/6p6PcFFUm5I

  • Amy

    Woooo! This is awesome! I loved last years. If it wasn’t for you, Sean Parker’s Spotify playlist and the music editor for The Good Wife, I wouldn’t know what new music to listen to. Seriously, thanks! Hugs from NYC. xx

  • AmyS

    Hold on When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It by Stars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaRQV9vcIRs The entire “The North” album is brilliant. And if you’re unfamiliar with Stars listen to Calendar Girl, it’s a few years old… but… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRxTrGHbb4w

    Breathing Underwater – Metric http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZuLsz4yPPM

    The Way it Used to Be – City & Colour – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99QVp14ZMng

    However Long – Brendan Canning – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_Iutz-Aaos&list=ALGLx1orRGw4UeqEMev1xCJi2Ug4dMnw26

    We’re All in This Together – Sam Roberts – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLP_iHDiLL8

    Hey There – Serena Ryder http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWKAX5sBPho

    Canadian music is much more than Drake and Biebs (and you already mentioned Arcade Fire and Tegan and Sara)

  • Sarah

    Album-Dessa “Parts of Speech”. I’m partial to ‘Warsaw’. Another place for great indie music is The Current (the current.org). It’s a MPR station.

  • Amy

    Hold on When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It by Stars:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaRQV9vcIRs The entire “The North” album
    is brilliant. And if you’re unfamiliar with Stars listen to Calendar
    Girl, it’s a few years old… but…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRxTrGHbb4w

    Breathing Underwater – Metric http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZuLsz4yPPM

    The Way it Used to Be – City & Colour – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99QVp14ZMng

    However Long – Brendan Canning – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_Iutz-Aaos&list=ALGLx1orRGw4UeqEMev1xCJi2Ug4dMnw26

    We’re All in This Together – Sam Roberts – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLP_iHDiLL8

    Hey There – Serena Ryder http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWKAX5sBPho

    Canadian music is much more than Drake and Biebs (and you already mentioned Arcade Fire and Tegan and Sara)

  • JRSF

    Yay for music recs again! (your Perfume Genius rec was lovely–thank you!). I’ve been addicted lately to Goldspot’s “The Border Line”; Serena Ryder’s “Circle of the Sun”; Vienna Teng’s entire “Aims” album; Lord Huron’s “Time to Run.”

  • hugsNpuppies

    Great list. Here’s my current favourite and it’s a fairly new artist from Melbourne, so pretty obscure and you’d be unlikely to have heard her music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ-l6FDu7T4 can’t rave enough about her – enjoy 🙂

  • hugsNpuppies

    Buzzcut season is my favourite on Lorde’s album as well! Here’s my current obsession: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ-l6FDu7T4

  • anon

    I love your music suggestions. In August you posted “Artificial Light”… it was the first time I listened to Typhoon and I became an instant fan. Thank you.

  • Lainypops

    Excellent list! Demons has definitely been an anthem for me this year. My suggestions would be anything from Bell X1, The Jezebels and Little Green Cars.

  • Leah

    My favorite album (yes, album) this year has been Pura Vida Conspiracy by Gogol Bordello. Favorite track is definitely It Is The Way You Name Your Ship.

  • Great list, and Rdio has also changed my life for the past 2 years. Canada thanks you for repping Tegan and Sara

    HAIM – The Wire http://rd.io/x/QU6VlDddYsxS/ I think your kids would love them as well

    Agnes Obel – The Curse http://rd.io/x/QU6VlDddR9Gd/

    Neko Case http://rd.io/x/QU6VlDddTOwZ/

    Basia Bulat – Tall Tall Shadow http://rd.io/x/QU6VlDddW_iw/

    Cass McCombs – Brighter http://rd.io/x/QU6VlDddFlPP/

    Mazzy Star http://rd.io/x/QU6VlDddTUjT/

  • Gem Wilder

    Thank you so much for all your recommendations. I love discovering new favourites through you.
    My picks for the year are:

    The Beck’s Record Club version of Never Tear Us Apart ~
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3rOjkSho0A
    (Not new, but I walked down the aisle to this in February, so it’s been special to 2013)

    The Phoenix Foundation, Black Mould ~
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFVZxalMN-A
    Their newest album Fandago is so good. They added an 80s synth sound to their usual indie/alt sound and it works so well.

    Watercolours, Pazzida ~
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbSaTDCyJlU
    This song! It speaks to my heart. It is so triumphant. I’ve listened to it repeatedly over the course of the year.

  • KM

    Giyo , Pretty Lights , Agnes Obel , Hugo Kant , Mr Grondin , try this out 😉

  • Erinn Powers

    Album “Seems Right” by Jim and The Povolos