16. The Epilogues -- Saboteur
The Epilogues, out of Denver, have the ability to make music like their lives depend on it. At its best, their sound is desperate and tragic and sweeping and grand, yet always easily accessible. The title of their 2012 album Cinematics was fitting given the, well, cinematic feel of much of their material, but one song, Saboteur, released almost as an afterthought in 2013, was really the band at the top of its form. It was a massive, searing track that deserved to be heard far and wide and yet criminally flew under the radar. Regardless, it was one of the best alt-rock songs of the year.
15. Arctic Monkeys -- Do I Wanna Know?
Arctic Monkeys broke huge back in 2006 with a song that was one of the best musical slaps across the face any of us had heard in a very long time: I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor. Since then, they've released some great material, but it wasn't until this year that they seemed to finally fulfill the promise of that first record, the one that got them tagged with the daunting "next big thing" label. Do I Wanna Know? -- the lead-off single from AM -- was the sound of a band refining its sound, asserting itself, and in many ways reinventing itself. With an assured, pummeling beat, a whole lot of bluesy swagger, and the trademark slyness of Alex Turner's vocals, it made the Monkeys feel like the old-timers come back to reclaim their mantle and show everybody else how it's done.
14. The Robert Glasper Experiment (ft. Jill Scott) -- Calls
In 2012, jazz pianist and producer Robert Glasper released one of the best albums of the year. It was the self-titled debut of a project he called the Robert Glasper Experiment, which fused jazz with neo-soul and hip-hop and featured a slew of guest performances by some of the brightest stars in each genre, all released on the legendary Blue Note label. The record went on to win the Grammy for best R&B album. Just one year later, Glasper’s Experiment returned with a follow-up, Black Radio 2, which may have topped even their first effort. The new record featured guest appearances by Common, Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, Norah Jones, Lupe Fiasco, Snoop Dogg, and Emeli Sandé, but it was the first single from it, with the awesome Jill Scott on vocals, that could just melt you into a puddle. Calls was an impeccable track that practically breathed cool, soulful, late-night loveliness.