19. The Boxer Rebellion — Diamonds
The Boxer Rebellion have been toiling away for years looking for that one big break that might make them household names. Unfortunately, it’s never really come and their 2013 album, Promises, doesn’t look like it’s going to be the one that puts them over the top. That said, it was a fine album and it produced one truly fantastic single: Diamonds. The track had all the implied tragedy of the National’s best work but was, in the most unobtrusive and least obnoxious way possible, as soaring as anything Coldplay’s ever used to turn stadiums inside-out.
18. Paramore — Still Into You
As one reviewer put it, this is the best song Katy Perry never wrote. Paramore may not change the world anytime soon; they won’t go out with the influence of Lou Reed or anything. But what they can do is write one hell of a pop song. And that’s exactly what this was: pure, unadulterated joy, simultaneously the year’s best affirmation — and reaffirmation — of that wonderful feeling of being lovestruck and proof positive that Hayley Williams and company could, ironically, survive just fine after the loss of two of the founding members of their band.
17. Laura Marling — Master Hunter
I realize I picked on the new folk revival a few days back, and maybe that’s only because it’s become a trend and with every record company on earth looking to sign the next Of Mumford and Monsters and Lumineers of Men and Sons, the whole genre already has that watered-down, prepackaged feel to it. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t some truly exceptional artists taking the “fresh” recycled sound and making it feel as raw and even dangerous as it did the first time around. Laura Marling is absolutely one of them. Her album Once I Was an Eagle, released back in June, was powerful stuff: assertive, sexy, mischievous, and occasionally very dark. And nowhere did Marling show off the dexterity of her chops more than on this track, Master Hunter.