Best Songs of 2013

I’m countin’ ‘em down like Casey “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars” Kasem used to do on the music TV show America’s Top 10:

SPC ECO - "Delusional Waste"

SPC ECO – “Delusional Waste”

10.  SPC ECO – “Delusional Waste”

Dean Garcia (ex-Curve) and daughter Rose Berlin, creators of electro-ambient fantasias, approach justthissideofpop with their recent tune “Delusional Waste”.  The swooning soundscape features a crisp, upbeat tempo, bright, expansively sustained synths, some grimy electronic buzz, and prickly lyrics against an ex sung in an angelically airy, but clear tone by Rose.  The song title says it all on that topic, really.

9.  William Gruff – “At the Bottom of the Ocean”

Helmsman Matt Cusack steers this David Bowiesque, epic number with a sure hand, starting off slowly with strummed guitar and low-key vocals that build up in emotive intensity.  Certain yearning turns of phrase and song structure shifts recall artists like David Bowie, Jeff Buckley, and Freddie Mercury.

Steve Kilbey & Martin Kennedy - "Lorelei"

Steve Kilbey & Martin Kennedy – “Lorelei”

8.  Steve Kilbey & Martin Kennedy – “Lorelei”

Aussies Steve Kilbey (of The Church) and Martin Kennedy (of All India Radio) have collaboratively crafted a blushing beauty of a tune, all lush breathiness and flushed and crushed emotions cushioned by plush synths, hushed guitar strum, and an unrushed pace.  Wonderful, lovely – but I gush…

D E N A - "Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools"

D E N A – “Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools”

7.  D E N A – “Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools”

I’m a sucker for a solid gold (hip-)pop hook and I’m sold on this super-catchy song.  Berlin-based Bulgarian sensation D E N A, AKA Dena Todorova, drops cool rhythms and hot rhymes (and vice versa) on this feel-good mantra of the summer, which is much-needed relief for this winter!  The chanting titular refrain belies the fact that D E N A is saying that she *doesn’t* need the bling, and just wants to chill by the pool with her friends.

6.  Tipper Whore – “Two Sticks”

Ryan Breegle, ex-Lolligags and Meringue & Malice co-conspirator with Leslie Dallion, has resurfaced in the glam-camp-punk-rock band Tipper Whore and the sextet tease and please on this super-funtastic single that abounds with sneakily cheeky double-entendres and an enormously enjoyable, way-sticky chorus line.

5.  Teen Daze – “Light & Love”

A blissfully uplifting, entrancingly cleansing instrumental from Canadian soundmaster Jamison that was released to help raise support for Benjamin Curtis (School Of Seven Bells, ex-Secret Machines) who was diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma this past February (Here is the link to official site where you can help defray Benjamin’s medical bills and post messages of support:

1984 - "Maze"

1984 – “Maze”

4.  1984 – “Maze”

Forget Phoenix.  Drop Daft Punk.  Instead, take note of French rock band 1984.  The melodic delight named “The Maze” starts out of the gate at a spiffy pace with bright, Interpol-like guitar lines and matter-of-fact, sing-talking vocals from frontman Etienne.  The soaring chorus comes in boldly with Etienne’s rousing exclamations supported by romping guitar rings.  Halfway in, the verse, chorus, verse structure makes way for a vocal break where Etienne proclaims with a dawning realization that “We are the maze.”

3.  New Politicians – “Sail Away”  

What sounds like a return to fine form by Interpol is actually an enthralling number from the NJ-based band New Politicians.  Although it’s unintentional, frontman Renal’s vocal delivery and starkly vivid lyrics bring to mind Paul Banks at his most sincere and vulnerable.  The wiry ring of Gian’s angular guitar lines, the casual lope of Winston’s bass line, and the crisp drum tempo also recall the best of Interpol.  By the end of the song, the verse, chorus, verse structure melts away into a longingly melancholic passage that carries the listener away in a dream.

2.  Suede – “Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away”

Despite Suede’s decade-long break, the band’s flame has never died and it has proved to be rapturously alive on comeback album Bloodsports.  Original members Brent Anderson, Mat Osman, and Simon Gilbert, and later additions Richard Oakes and Neil Codling have returned as vital as ever as showcased by stunner “Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away”.  The song is an epic, heartfelt, slow-burning torcher that is grand without the grandiosity and beguiling without the guile.  It starts off with Brett singing in a clear, plaintive tone against a measured pace and angular, wiry guitar, which leads to a vertiginous chorus filled with Brett’s airy, yearning vocals, brightly burnished guitar lines, and an emphatic drum beat.  Midway through, the song rises in intensity and opens up, ascending to the heavens on a burgeoning press of synths, Richard’s driving guitar line, Simon’s propulsive drumming, and Brett’s gravely desperate exclamations of “Sometimes I feel I’ll float away / without you to hold me.”

Queens Of The Stone Age - "I Appear Missing"

Queens Of The Stone Age – “I Appear Missing”

1.  Queens Of The Stone Age – “I Appear Missing”

Josh Homme’s devastatingly poignant opus “I Appear Missing” charts the emotional breakdown and questioning of beliefs of a (wo)man on the (l)edge who is losing him/herself in the process of falling in love (or is it the break-up of a relationship?) and just trying to survive, to retain self-identity, and to at least exist in someone else’s memory.  A measured pace and Josh’s softly delivered anguish on the verses alternates with guitar blasts, crashing cymbals, and Josh’s weary exclamations on the choruses where he declares “It’s only falling in love / because you hit the ground.”  Killer line; it will get you every time…  The verse, chorus, verse structure breaks midway, only to return with a creeping, and then suddenly speedy, intensity as Josh’s airy harmonies sweetly mix with rapidly crescendoing guitar riffs.  The resulting sonic fireworks may be cathartic, but there is no emotional recovery to be found after the fall.

Truncated official video:

You’ll have to go searching to find the full track, but it’s definitely worth it to hear the whole song as it’s meant to be heard.