Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Best Tracks of 2013 So Far

Considering that we've each done a list of the best albums of 2013 (so far), Joe Sherwood and I decided to also do a bumper list of our 20 favourite tracks of the year. However, neither of us were allowed to have tracks that the other person has, so take our lists with a pinch of salt. They're un-ordered because we change our minds about 5 times every hour as to which is THE best song. We also have a special guest this time due to the fact that our good friend, Jack Morgan, is a music enthusiast and would like to start up his own site in a few weeks time, so stay tuned.


(If the track isn't on Spotify, it'll be linked via SoundCloud or YouTube instead)

Joe Gilbey:

Chance The Rapper Cocoa Butter Kisses (ft. Vic Mensa & Twista) (Acid Rap)

Acid Rap is one of the most easy-going rap albums that I've listened to in a very long time for two reasons; the punchy upbeat basslines and Chance The Rapper's effortlessly comedic rapping style. "Cocoa Butter Kisses" epitomises this in my eyes, and due the addition of the legendary Twista and new-kid-on-the-block Vic Mensa, it is probably the most fun-filled rap track of 2013 so far.

Action Bronson Seven Series Triplets (ft. Prodigy & Raekwon) (Saab Stories)

Kanye West Black Skinhead (Yeezus)

So much power. Learn the lyrics and scream the chorus. That is all.

Sigur Ros Brennisteinn (Kveikur)

A$AP Rocky Wild For The Night (ft. Skrillex) (Long.Live.A$AP)

I feel like I should say a little something about the album considering it marginally missed out on my top 5 albums of the year so far and therefore didn't quite find itself on the reviewing podium, so here I go. Despite the fact that A$AP Rocky's debut release was a little disappointing, he has undoubtedly more than redeemed himself with his latest LP Long.Live.A$AP. The album showcases many different artists such as 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Ferg and a surprising appearance from Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine, and this contrasting variety of acts seemed to work brilliantly for Rakim Mayers. Although Skrillex doesn't seem to be a great match for Rocky's rap background at first glance, the partnership was definitely a successful one. The synthetic horns and refined rhythms on the track complimented the MCs style brilliantly, so I have a feeling that we'll hear more tracks like this in the future from both artists. (If you're going to Reading/Leeds then SEE THEM!)

James Blake Overgrown (Overgrown)

Daft Punk Doin' It Right (ft. Panda Bear) (Random Access Memories)

The comeback is here. Daft Punk's iconic jovial sound has made a timely return, and although we've had to wait a fair few years, I think we can safely say that Random Access Memories brings back what the band is all about; bouncy, upbeat music. Much like the formidable summer anthem of 2013, "Get Lucky", "Doin' It Right" is a perfect example of Daft Punk's transcendent presence in the musical world, and alongside Animal Collective's Panda Bear, they seem simply unstoppable right now.

Disclosure White Noise (ft. AlunaGeorge) (Settle)

Pusha T Numbers on the Boards (My Name Is My Name)

Even though there was a surprising lack of Pusha T on Kanye West's latest release, Yeezus, it appears that Mr West and his rapping prodigy are still as close as ever. "Numbers on the Boards" combines Pusha's pleasantly raspy voice and Kanye's incredibly cultured beat production in a seemingly minimalistic manner, much like a less harsh version of Yeezus. If you're into modern rap with cutthroat beats then this is definitely one to listen to.

Jagwar Ma The Throw (Howlin)

Woodkid I Love You (The Golden Age)

'Woodkid (Yoann Lemione) has burst onto the experimental scene this year with tracks such as "Iron" and "Run Boy Run" which truly define the word epic. However, with his newest single "I Love You", he brings things back to a more comforting level. He takes fun from throwing a wide array of orchestral and industrial sounds into one big cooking pot and this time he has hit the perfect balance. The workman-like beat and the signature Woodkid violins come together beautifully which is then topped off by Lemione's deep but soothing voice. "I Love You" is certainly the track that will give Lemione the credit he deserves.' - Jack Morgan

ScHoolboy Q Collard Greens ft. Kendrick Lamar (Single)

Just Blaze x Baauer Higher (Single)

Yes, Baauer is the bloke that created the infamous "Harlem Shake", but I promise that this is an absolute banger. There aren't any words that I could use to make you believe me, so I think I'll leave it there for this one (please listen to it though, your opinion of him will be changed).

Laurel Halo Throw (Behind The Green Door EP)

Tyler The Creator Rusty ft. Domo Genesis & Earl Sweatshirt (WOLF)

There's not really a lot that I haven't said about the father of Odd Future's latest album, WOLF, but I figured that I'd give Rusty some recognition considering that it's probably one of my favourite tracks that he's ever released. Tyler's verse is 141 seconds of pure lyrical greatness which is impressive in itself, but you can't help but love it even more after hearing the tongue-in-cheek punts at Adele's weight, 2 Chainz' age and everybody that uses Tumblr... it's nice to know that he is sticking to his controversial roots.

Tyler's performance of Rusty on Late Night With David Letterman with Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt.

DJ Rashad Rollin (Rollin EP)

Marina and The Diamonds & Charli XCX Just Desserts (Single)

A tenebrous song that's a clever blend between Charli's preferred spoken-word style of singing and Marina's eerie vocals, driven by the duo's sweet longing for revenge. It's rare for me to like many songs of this genre, but there's just something about these two that gives me hope about the current state of the pop industry, let's just hope that they continue in this way.

Jessie Ware Sweet Talk (Devotion)

Koreless Ivana (Yugen)

I only heard of Koreless about a year ago through Spotify's recommendations, and due to his relatively small discography I didn't really have a lot to compare his latest release, Yugen, to. However, after listening to the 5 songs on the extended play I was absolutely mesmerised as to why this man has received such a little amount of coverage.

It's difficult to describe the project as it's comparatively unique, but if I was to sum it up in 3 words, those words would be relaxing, psychedelic and dubsteppy (I know that's not a real word, but I did say it's difficult to describe).

The Knife A Tooth For An Eye (Shaking The Habitual)

Joe Sherwood:

Ace Hood Bugatti (ft. Future and Rick Ross) (Trials and Tribulations)

Ace Hood is hardly my favourite rapper, but I absolutely cannot deny "Bugatti". Production from Mike WiLL Made It, the hottest beat-maker in the game right now, makes "Bugatti" one of the finest bangers of 2013 thus far, and features from the ever-impressive Future and Rick Ross ensure the track is lyrically serviceable as well; the AutoTune-assisted hook is possibly the catchiest you'll hear all year.

Ciara Body Party (Ciara)

The Knife Raging Lung (Shaking the Habitual)

The Knife's latest album, Shaking the Habitual, has many pop gems sitting alongside droning, ambient tracks. "Raging Lung" is one of them, complete with tribal drumming and a chilling synths. Lyrically it tackles the schism between the rich and the poor; "Western standards" lead to the profitability of poverty, and Karin Dreijer Andersson asks, "where's your troubled mind?" in what is an attack on the wealthy people who exploit the poor for monetary gain.

Melt Yourself Down Fix My Life (Melt Yourself Down)

DJ Rashad Drums Please (ft. DJ Manny) (Rollin EP)

DJ Rashad is a man at the forefront of the footwork invasion, and it's easy to see why; four full-lengths and many stellar short-form releases in a matter of years have resulted in his signing to Hyperdub, and his first EP for the London-based label contains four shining examples of his stylish, bass-induced brand of footwork. The most impressive of these is "Drums Please", a collaboration with TEKLIFE affiliate DJ Manny, which screws a drumroll sample into a dizzying juke track that's as experimental as it is danceable.

Rocko U.E.O.N.O. (ft. Future and Rick Ross) (Mixtape)

Nosaj Thing x Chance the Rapper Paranoia (Hidden Track) (Acid Rap)

Acid Rap is a laid-back tape for sure - as the name implies, it's intended to be heard in conjunction with an acid trip. However, there is a sense of unease in some of Chance's lyrics throughout the tape, and no track captures this better than the hidden track that follows "Pusha Man". Referencing the 'murder season' in his hometown of Chicago, Chance talks of his fear when it's "warm out", and having to ride around with his "gun on his hip" to keep himself safe, because "everybody dies in the summer". Combined with the chilling glitch-hop beat from producer Nosaj Thing, "Paranoia" proves to be one of the more haunting tracks this year.

Machinedrum Clissold VIP (Single)

Mariah Carey #Beautiful (ft. Miguel) (The Art of Letting Go)

The hashtag appears to be a part of Western culture now, although it understandably has trashy and shallow connotations. On that basis, you wouldn't expect "#Beautiful" to be one of the most wholesome pop songs of the year, but it truly is, featuring a lovely, simple guitar riff, and gorgeous vocals from Carey and Miguel, whose stock has no doubt increased since last year's Kaleidoscope Dream. It's a wonderful summer jam, and far less gimmicky than the title suggests.

Tessela Hackney Parrot (Single)

Haroon Mizra vs Factory Floor /o/o/o/o/ (NVC Remix) (12")

The multimedia artist Haroon Mizra gave Factory Floor and Django Django (who operated under the Jellyman moniker) source material with which to create a remix, as part of a wider project for his /o/o/o/o/ exhibition. While the Django Django interpretation is an interesting, almost clubby track, the Factory Floor version is a stark, minimal and rather tense experience. Flushes of static, pounding drums, swathes of guitar and a prominent beeping sound are all present and correct here in what is easily the most impressive rework of the two.


Justin Timberlake Suit and Tie (ft. Jay-Z) (The 20/20 Experience)

Danny Brown Kush Coma (Non-album track)

I may be telling a little lie with the italics above - Kush Coma will be featured on Danny Brown's upcoming album Old, albeit with a feature from A$AP Rocky and the snare drums higher in the mix. Personally, I prefer the original version released earlier in the year, mainly because I feel a track as wacky as "Kush Coma" works better as a shorter blast. Obviously, this is stoner-rap fare, wherein Brown is smoking "back-to-back" blunts, and although it's very silly lyrically, the production from Skywalkr works well to keep the track somewhat grounded in reality.

Autre Ne Veut Play by Play (Anxiety)

Daft Punk Get Lucky (ft. Pharrell and Nile Rodgers) (Random Access Memories)

In years to come, people will talk about "Get Lucky" in the same way they talk about "One More Time" or "Harder Better Faster Stronger"; a reminder of halcyon days in summers past, of simpler times. Although Random Access Memories turned out to be a little disappointing, there is no denying that "Get Lucky" is the song of the summer, an endlessly enjoyable track with an irresistible riff and sumptuous vocals.

Kanye West New Slaves (Yeezus)

Dean Blunt Felony (Non-album track)

Dean Blunt's The Redeemer is one of my favourite albums so far this year, but picking a choice track is fairly difficult since they are all part of an ongoing story arc; all of the tracks are indispensable in the grand scheme of the album. Thankfully, a non-album track titled "Felony" was released on the pollyjacobsen YouTube channel not too long ago, and it's riveting stuff - Dean's heartbroken croon accompanies a clear-cut sample and MIDI strings in a similar vein to the full-length. Also, the video is something to behold, with Dean gazing out to sea in a Lil B-esque introspection.

Sophie Bipp (Single)

Vektroid Enemy (Single)

The mastermind behind the enigmatic New Dreams Ltd. artists (Macintosh Plus, Laserdisc Visions, 情報デスクVIRTUAL) has had a troubled 2013, but under the Vektroid alias she released "Enemy", something of a vaporwave epic. Clocking in at nearly 10 minutes, the slow-moving track is a blissful experience, as samples weave in and out of the programmed drums and synths in true vapor fashion.

Pharmakon Crawling on Bruised Knees (Abandon)

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