2013 was a crazy year for music, and for me. I graduated from high school, and uprooted and went off to college, so music has been incredibly important to me in this transition phase of my life. This year, I think I gravitated to music that me could be classified as “feel good,” because increasingly I was plagued by feelings of, “wow, I’m not at home anymore. I have responsibilities now.” So, in a sense this top 10 is a little bit biased towards what made me feel good, because that was my tie breaker. If I had two things I wanted to put into the list, but I could only pick one, the one that I had fonder memories of was included in my list. I’ll try to get some of the music I didn’t include, but perhaps deserved more recognition, into some of our bigger more comprehensive best of’s so they aren’t forgotten! Before getting to the top ten, I’ve listed a couple highs and lows of my musical life this year that I thought were pertinent to share. In a paraphrased version of the Iron Chef commencement line…
“A LA MUSIQUE ” (karate chop!)
High: My pal, and former DJ duo buddy, Icarus (also at salacious sound), and I played Harlem Shake at a dance at the beginning of the year, and we were greeted with blank stares. 2 Months later, the youtube videos went viral, and people kept showing us the videos and saying that we should play that song at dances. Hate to say it, but…. we told you so.
Low: Miley Cyrus.
High: Participating in DADA Life’s World-Record-Breaking pillow fight. That was surreal. Shoutout to Dylan and Jenna for taking me. That phone call changed my life.
10 >> Young Summer– Waves That Rolled You Under
I love this release from her. I’m sad I missed it the first time around over the summer, but better late than never. The arpeggiated synths remind me of the ebb and flow of waves, and the crash cymbals fizzle out beautifully like the crashing of a wave. And on top of that the vocals and harp overlays add so much depth (no pun intended), and I can’t wait to see more from her in 2014.
9 >> DJ Snake — “L’artiste” [The artist himself]
I say DJ Snake because I couldn’t include Bird Machine, and not include his remix of Aluna George, You Know You Like It. Firstly, Bird Machine was one of the most inventive songs of 2013, or in recent history, if not solely because it uses bird calls as a melody successfully. It takes some serious cojones, and he did it so well, it couldn’t not be in a top 10. And the other remix is so salacious. The voice samples are so exquisitely syncopated, and paired with the 808 snare rolls, it all just comes together in a magical remix. Ms. George’s voice is another one that calls out to be remixed, and DJ Snake did very well to highlight those pipes in his remix. Bon Travaille Monsieur Snake.
8 >> Disclosure — Settle [Album]
Disclosure really hit the mark with their album this summer. Latch is fantastic and to me the album really flowed. Each song complemented the others nicely, and the production is off the charts. I love how they incorporated deep house undertones, and made UK Garage, which can sometimes be a little inaccessible to the layman listener, more accessible. It just covers such a wonderful musical scope, and the production quality is flawless. That certainly doesn’t hurt!
7 >> BANKS — Warm Water (Snakehips Remix)
Perhaps one of the sexiest songs of the year (not necessarily for morning sex, but from sensual vocal), and does it groove? Oh yeah… It grooves. There are few things that translate to good remixing better than a BANKS vocal, and for good reason. Her songs are so simplistic, providing simply a backbeat for her gorgeous voice to shine through, and thus her songs just beg to be interpreted and remixed. Snakehips provides a very nice “interpretation,” that makes it seem like the vocals were meant for the song. His understated groove lets the vocals shine through while simultaneously being pronounced enough to keep the toes tapping, head bobbing, and ears melting happily into little piles of satisfied ear blob (I hope that conveys a positive image). Mmm mmm mmm. Sexy.
6 >> Vaults — Cry No More
I stumbled upon this track because of Feed Me‘s post on his facebook page, and I’m so happy I did. It’s a gorgeous use of wind chimes, and whenever I listen to it, it would take me a good week to get it out of my head. Not that I ever want it out of there… I love the fact that, with the chimes, strings, and very simple bassline/beat, it manages to convey the very depressing/beautiful message of not wanting to cry or die anymore. It usually makes me tear up a little on the inside. Just a little though. I think this was one of the most powerful songs I’ve heard in a while, and it certainly got me through a fair amount this fall. I hope it speaks to you as much as it does to me.
5 >> Jaymes Young — Moondust (Ianborg & Bronze Whale Remix)
I love this song because it contrasts beautiful vocals and keys, with a slightly eerie synth sound layered on top. It makes the song more interesting than had it been just beautiful, and it makes it that much better. The lyrics also really speak to me (as much as they can being EDM lyrics, which hardly make sense), because I’ve had some hard relationship times, and I too have felt like burying my love. Not necessarily in moondust… but you get the drift. So this one really hit home, it always evokes all the feels.
4 >> Yellow Claw — “de groep” [The group]
AmsterDAMN. This year, the Dutch group was unstoppable. Both EP’s, Amsterdam Trap Music, and Amsterdam Twerk Music, were superb, and they released plenty of other singles throughout the year as well. I love their spin on trap music, because they add some electro house components into their trap drops, which together produce a very tasty blend. It’s so hard to describe, but I guess I’d call it (apart from twerk music) club trap. A brand of trap that appeals to a broad audience, while maintaining the intricacies that trap purists yearn for.
3 >> Asa & KOAN Sound — Sanctuary [The EP]
I played this record so many times over and over to study, to rest, to enjoy, and to live (Sorry to be poetic). Basically, it’s superb, and I thought long and hard about giving it #2 or #1… I love it. Here’s the thing. It’s the perfect blend of ambient, symphonic, Asa ear goodness, and it really tells a story. Conveniently, I already reviewed it, so I’ll spare you repetitive raving about this EP. However, I will just say it really does tell a story unlike many EP’s these days, and if you listen and really focus, you can create that story in your head. I wonder if that’s how people felt before TV. Or books… (maybe not books).
2 >> Phonat — [The Man, The Myth, The Legend]
The thing I love most about Phonat is his production. His sounds seamlessly blend together, and are just, for lack of a better word, brilliant. Every note is deliberate, his mixes groove, and his EP, Machines Do Care, is my favorite EP release of the year. He also has plenty of other stunning remixes that are all unique, and yet maintain his signature sound. I couldn’t stop listening to his remix of Rikki either. Lordy. If could only take one artist’s body of work on a plane for 20 hours, I’d take his.
1 >> Clinton VanSciver — Indie Anna Jones [The song]
The only thing stopping Phonat from taking the number 1 spot is this song. I don’t think I listened to any song more than I did this one over the summer. I drove down highways with it, I cranked it (like Soulja Boy) any time I was home, and I even went so far as to listen to it in the shower. It was the song of my year, because it kept me happy through the lows, and got me happier during the highs, and for that, it gets my number 1. I love Clinton’s “dirty pop” sound and all the disco influences in his music, and I can’t wait to see what he does in 2014.
Hope your 2014 is even better than your 2013,