Now Hear This: The 25 Best Singles of 2013 (22-20)
Eerie and playful, dark and unnerving, and joyously breezy.
Eerie and playful, dark and unnerving, and joyously breezy.
The National's album Trouble Will Find Me, released back in May, had the kind of title that made you figure the band would be exploring the same depths of beautiful sadness and solitude we'd gotten used to. This time around, though, it felt like -- maybe, improbably -- life and possibly success had lit a fire in their bellies.
While Lies was easily the strongest track on the Chvrches' debut LP, dwarfing everything else, overall the album was still a near-masterpiece of synth-pop. Here are two reasons why.
The Knife released their first album in seven years back in April, and by almost all accounts it was worth the wait. As with the duo's past three releases, it was mesmerizing and challenging in the best possible way -- an aural Lynchian acid trip.
It was the title track that closed the album where Sky Ferreira, ironically shined. I say ironically because the song was in fact pitch black and oozing sexual menace which built slowly to a climactic thrum of near-industrial white noise. It actually felt like fucking on ecstasy.
This track in particular was a perfect snapshot of the album, barreling along like a tank and finally dissolving into frontman Ally Dickaty simply screaming with palpable ferocity, "You lied, you lied, you lied, you liar." It was chilling, but undeniably fucking awesome stuff.
If someone told you that there's a band from Brooklyn doing Southern-influenced country rock, you'd probably just chalk it up to another case of hipsters co-opting a foreign sound for the sake of detached irony. You'd be wrong.
Next week we'll begin counting down the 25 Best Singles of 2013, but leading up to that we're going to be featuring some of the music that came out this past year that almost made the final list. Today, it's the first single from the debut full-length record from British DJ/Producer Maya Jane Coles.
At the top of the list of the pastor's regular rock-and-roll targets was this band. Why? Well, there was the cover for this album, which he would thrust into the camera with the kind of shock, disgust and anger usually reserved for townsfolk about to burn the local pedophile at the stake.
City of Angels, the most recent single from Thirty Seconds, is standard fare from the band, but stripped down to mostly piano and vocals it's actually a much better song.
Which brings us to now and her new record, the one eight years in the making. It marks a pretty serious change in her sound, but there is one song on the record that has the familiar lush sweetness that was so captivating almost 15 years ago
Any new music from A Perfect Circle is cause for celebration, and the band's just-released greatest hits album brings with it one new song, a track that sounds like a mash-up of Zeppelin and Disintegration-era Cure.
In the aftermath of Oasis, each brother went off and did his own thing -- Noel forming Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, and Liam starting Beady Eye. The former retained a lot of the sound we'd come to expect from Oasis, but the latter seemed determined to tread new ground -- and it was the better for that.
Zedd scored one of the best singles of last year with Spectrum. Now he's released a deluxe edition of the album that track came from and it includes this new song -- with Paramore's Haley Williams on vocals.
Luxuriant. Hypnotic. Dreamy. Ernest Greene, better known as Washed Out, creates music that's practically tactile -- that feels like sliding into a warm bath or maybe lying in the surf on a deserted beach.
Last month the band put out their EP with Chester Bennington, High Rise, and what I like most about it is that it's so reminiscent of the more melodic kind of stuff STP used to do during the Purple and Tiny Music era.
Lily Allen is back -- in fine form and just when we need her most.
Last night, PBS premiered the new documentary American Masters: Jimi Hendrix — Hear My Train A Comin'. Among so much other great stuff, it featured some never-before-seen video and audio of Hendrix, including live performances and behind-the-scenes home movies.
Sound-wise it doesn't reinvent the wheel for the band, and that's okay because the off-kilter electronics, garage-style reverb, and dark undercurrents -- as well as Sarah Barthel's sensual vocals -- do well for these guys. Why mess with what works?
Halloween was great, but it's actually the couple of days that now follow it that mark one of my favorite times of the year. Christians know it as All Saints' Day or All Souls' Day, but in Mexico -- or in Los Angeles, where I live -- it's better known as el Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.
Very few music videos are actually scary, per se, but there are a few that can definitely be called disturbing, more that qualify as profoundly creepy, and at least one that really does go beyond scary into the realm of flat-out terrifying.
The Robert Glasper Experiment's new record features guest appearances by Common, Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, Norah Jones, Lupe Fiasco, Snoop Dogg, and Emeli Sandé -- and it's cool, late-night, neo-soul loveliness from start to finish.
Yesterday marked the 36th anniversary of the debut of an album that lit rock-and-roll, such as it was, on fire. On October 28th of 1977, the Sex Pistols released Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.
It's a sprawling, epically ambitious art rock album that spans the equivalent of two discs and incorporates Caribbean rhythms, a whole lot of reverb, and the dance chops of James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem.
This is a record made with the youthful passion of a band that's not sure they'll ever get the chance to make another album so they'd better throw everything they've got at this one.
In the week before the final episode of Breaking Bad, AMC ran a pretty stellar commercial that brought together images from the past five seasons and summed up not only Walter White's pitch-black journey but those of the characters whose lives he'd destroyed along the way. The whole thing was set to this song.
Putting aside the notoriously reclusive and self-serious Prince's decision to, maybe for the first time in his career, make us laugh out loud, the new single from the man is everything you'd expect. It's funky, it's sexy, it's cool as hell -- it's Prince.
While he's often overlooked or even ridiculed whenever the conclave of musical intelligentsia issues its official declaration of what's "important" and what isn't in rock, in the 11 year period between 1971 and 1982, Billy Joel released more spectacular songs than most current bands or artists ever will.
British trip-hop trio Morcheeba are pretty much the sole survivors of that era in the mid-to-late-90s when a lot of acts were composed of a female singer, two male programmers/producers, and a lot of smooth and soulful trip-hop grooves.
Amanda Palmer is a divisive presence in music. For some, she's a ferociously artistic firebrand who refuses to play by anyone's rules but her own and who's one of rock's last true fearless free spirits. For others, her act is nothing more than an exaggerated version of the shameless self-worship we see from every other pop star.
At this point, Royals is such a huge song -- it's basically what Gnarls Barkley's Crazy was for 2006 -- that I wouldn't be surprised if you see more unusual covers of it turning up from a lot of varied artists over the next few months.
NYU has collected dozens of hours of footage from the real CBGB, Mudd Club, and Danceteria era and put it all together for a project called the Nightclubbing archive. Among the clips from the distant past NYU has managed to bring together, there's this one, something very few people have ever seen.
Get Away, from the London-based band Yuck, was one of the best singles of 2011 and it proved that there's apparently a global love for Dinosaur Jr. out there that we never knew existed. Sure their name is dripping with hipster irony, but the song's a blast.
Beautifully produced to the point where the sounds feel as if they rest on top of each other in airy layers, Hynes recruits singer Caroline Polachek and an old school 80s sax coda to top it all off and the result is nothing short of blissful.
True, Sky Ferreira looks like every other bleach-blonde American Apparel model who grew up in Los Angeles and who's the object of talentless douchebag Terry Richardson's lascivious desires, but the reality is that the girl can put together a damn near flawless pop song.
Flesh for Lulu are one of those underappreciated bands from the 80s that did so much more beyond the one or two big hits they managed to score. I guess every decade churns out bands like that but for some reason the 80s seems to have been rife with them: acts that were doomed to be remembered as one-hit-wonders despite a vibrant catalog of great material that even nostalgia would leave undiscovered.
They're gospel, they're folk, they're blues, they're the kind of neo-hippie act anyone who inexplicably makes the trek to Bonnaroo every year loves with a passion. But, at the center of it all, there's Alex Ebert and his searingly passionate voice -- his messianic Edward Sharpe character come to life -- and it is, appropriately, a revelation.
The new Pearl Jam single is one of the most accessible tracks the group has released in years, with a couple of hooks so established and poppy that it's almost shocking it's coming from a band as notoriously defiant of convention as Pearl Jam.
Springsteen took a lot of the bombastic working-class angst we'd come to expect -- and would continue to expect -- from the E Street Band and stripped it down to practically nothing: just him, a guitar, a harmonica, and a 4-track recorder.
Sure, a video that parodies a show that was itself a parody seems quaintly uncool, but it kind of fits the breezy and fun new single from these guys. Not a lot of guile or clever irony here -- just straightforward, hook-laden pop with plenty of harmonies.