Monday, 9 December 2013

Best Tracks of 2013: 30-21

Welcome to Sequel to Your Life. Maybe we can get the introductions out of the way later - for now, we're running down the best music of 2013. Next week will see lists of our favourite albums and mixtapes, as well as some other miscellaneous stuff, but let's kick things off with our Top 30 Tracks.

30) Schoolboy Q - Collard Greens (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Just enough to make up for the absence of Q's forthcoming album 'Oxymoron', Collard Greens pulled the double duty stunt of heightening anticipation for its release and reminding us that Kendrick is equally at home on party jams as on the serious stuff. Both rappers are in top form, and if Kendrick just edges it, it's only because he knows he's up against formidable competition. 2014 could easily be Schoolboy Q's for the taking.

29) Cut Copy - Free Your Mind

The Australian band's fourth album got unfairly average reviews across the board (here's looking at you, Pitchfork), and the title track is ample evidence of why it deserved better. Inspired by Britain's acid house Summer of Love, this one is all gleeful piano chords and sky-gazing lyrics. Deserved to soundtrack sunny barbecues all across the country.

28) HAIM - The Wire

The endless Fleetwood Mac comparisons can stop right now - shoved into the spotlight this year, the three sisters have grown into their own as a band, destroying festival slots all summer long. Performing their best song, The Wire, with infectious enthusiasm on SNL the other week, HAIM drew a line under why they've absolutely owned 2013, proving Este's high school voice coach wrong as a bonus.

27) Chromatics - Cherry

Quietly released towards the end of last year as a free download, Cherry ended up occupying a crucial place on 'After Dark 2', the Italians Do It Better label sampler that played host to some astonishingly good tracks. The best of three Chromatics cuts here, Cherry built on the nocturnal panorama that was 'Kill for Love' by elevating the pop factor and making the synths sound like a full string section. Check the accompanying Alberto Rossini video for some cool visuals, and watch out for the song being sampled on a certain Schoolboy Q album next year...

26) Ab-Soul - Christopher DRONEr

In a year when Schoolboy Q's much-hyped 'Oxymoron' was perpetually delayed, and Kendrick Lamar's output was confined to guest verses of wildly varying quality, Black Hippy's most underrated member quietly released one of his finest tracks yet. Ab-Soul darts between excitement and paranoia over Willie B's church peal beat, even jacking some Kanye flow for the finale.

25) Appaloosa - Fill the Blanks

One of the surprise standout tracks on 'After Dark 2', Fill the Blanks is also the most unashamedly POP! hit on this incredible label sampler. The cooing vocals, reminiscent of Nico with a mouth full of sticky toffee, might prove divisive, but if you're usually on board with producer Johnny Jewel's romantic visions then this'll be like catnip. That the song feels so awkwardly stitched together just adds to its endearingly naive appeal.

24) Disclosure - White Noise (feat. AlunaGeorge)

After Get Lucky, this was British summertime's most ubiquitous song, a permanent presence in clubs and huge festival tents, beloved by bloggers and Radio 1 alike. The Lawrence brothers' debut album was hardly lacking in top singles, but this was the best of the bunch, and sure to be the most enduring.

23) Suede - It Starts and Ends with You

When Suede reformed to start playing gigs again a few years back, Brett Anderson said that the band would only ever record a new album if he thought it could compete with their best material. Astonishingly, 'Bloodsports' was a triumph - easily the best Suede album since 'Coming Up'. It Starts and Ends with You shows that the band have lost none of their bite since the Nineties, and (whisper it), their ability to write a great chorus might even have improved. Absolutely stuffed with juicy hooks.

22) Icona Pop - I Love It

OK, you got me - this one was actually released all the way back in May 2012, but the song finally became a hit this year, albeit very belatedly. Its inclusion in an episode of 'Girls' admittedly helped matters no end, but the fact is that this is one of the catchiest songs of the last few years. Crashing your car into a bridge never sounded so liberating, and when this came on the radio you had to be careful not to do the same.

21) Caveman - In the City

Caveman's self-titled second album failed to set the world alight, which was a shame - it showed a marked improvement on the debut, and showcased a sound that, if not wholly original, certainly does much to stand out from the pack. In the City is the highlight, sounding like a more rustic version of MGMT or Yeasayer. The melodies are particularly reminiscent of The Shins, but driven instead by pillow-soft synths and an airy chorus that seems to hang suspended above the treetops.

Click through for tracks 20-11...

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