Sunday, December 29, 2013

PCA Playlist: 100 Most Excellent Songs of 2013, 41-60





Onward and upward. I'll admit, the list is being narrowed down and amended as we move from section to section. It won't be a finished product until the last thoughts on entry #100 have been posted, and the tracks vying for space are all good.  Battles are being waged in the iTunes master playlists, and tensions are running high. With this, we seal off part three. 60 songs down, 40 to go.  Hit play on the 8Tracks list at the bottom of this post, read on...



41. Butterclock / "Holograms"  Butterclock may be the best pop act you've been ignoring this year. The Berlin artist only has a brief EP to her name, but it's a promising one, and "Holograms" is a sparkly, broken-hearted jam for the people.  Plus, you get to say Butterclock...

42. Mount Kimbie / "Made to Stray" This may not sound like a selling point, but "Made to Stray" is sort of like a timepiece. It's a rhythm that pulses and that feels, productively, like you're channeling your focus into some sort of echoing clockwork.

43. Blood Orange / "Uncle ACE"  Producer Dev Hynes is Blood Orange, and his album Cupid Deluxe is getting all the attention and accolades it deserves as an all-inclusive night voyage through a melancholy NYC underground.  The title of this track, as has been noted repeatedly, pulls its name from the subway lines beneath which many homeless LGBT kids seek refuge.  It's deep, but also a sleek, driving, disco jam.

44. Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams / "Lose Yourself to Dance" When you get tired of "Get Lucky," the next best place to go is to skip over to this disco number.  Like the 'song of the summer', all it takes is Pharrell's vocals and a repetitive, catchy set of verses to set up a nonstop dance shop.  As the internet has proven, this is a song perfect for looping old Soul Train footage to.

45. Oneohtrix Point Never / "Chrome Country"  I'm not really sure how to pronounce 'Oneohtrix' (I've got an idea, but it still seems weird), and I'm not exactly sure why this track possesses the clout that it does, but if I had to point to a reason, I'd say we're looking at a possible successor for Brian Eno.

46. Prurient / "You Show Great Spirit"  Prurient, on the other hand, sounds sort of like what would happen if you took the gentleness of Oneohtrix and, well, gave it a lot of drugs and a very dark, strobe-lit space to inhabit.  It's an insidious wave of sound, an old-school techno more in keeping with Underworld than current wobble bass sounds.

47. Lorde / "Tennis Court"  Teen queen Lorde has made a pretty serious stamp this year, but though I like the lyrics "Royals" has to offer, there's something about "Tennis Court" that suits the subdued quality of her vocals just right. There's just enough middle finger, just enough uncertainty.

48. Cassie ft. Wiz Khalifa / "Paradise"  Of the full albums I listened to most often this year, Cassie's RockaByeBaby mixtape was one of the most frequently spun, and one of the biggest left-field surprises. It's a seamless, ice cold R&B collection, and one that's, oddly, really hard to pull an individual song from.  "Paradise" is a particularly representative track, one that flaunts Cassie's aggressive lyrics, laid-back sound, and all the reasons she needs to topple Rihanna from the top.

49. Danny Brown / "Lonely"  Danny Brown is a hip hop artist I don't always enjoy. His voice tends to become a little too cartoon-like, a little too...shrill.  When he slows it down a bit, though, his rhymes shine. "Lonely" is a warm sound, a moment where the clouds part in the midst of his album and so, so good.

50. Earl Sweatshirt / "Chum"  If you don't know the saga of Earl Sweatshirt, you need to look that up and educate yourself.  He's just a kid, but one who has been praised as a serious, major voice lurking somewhere between the polar ends of Odd Future's enfant terrible Tyler the Creator and the soulful Frank Ocean. He constructs curious, cerebral raps of a different caliber, and "Chum" sounds like raw potential.

51. Haim / "Days Are Gone" Los Angeles sister-act Haim didn't always sound like a long-established rock outfit.  The siblings started out as part of a rather constructed teen pop act (Valli Girls), but those days seem like a very distant past.  Days Are Gone is a startlingly mature album boasting a fully-formed sound, and the title track is an upbeat bouncer that masks bittersweet nature of the lyrics.

52. Tegan and Sara / "Closer"  Supposedly there are people who accuse the once rather emo Tegan and Sara of selling out with Heartthrob, their heavily 80s synth influenced pop album.  Those people, I think, are probably pretty miserable to be around. "Closer" is a pitch-perfect pop crowdpleaser, readymade for singing in your car, jumping up and down, ironic fist-pumping, and nerdy dance parties.

53. Sky Ferreira / "Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)"  I've been keeping an eye on Sky Ferreira for the last couple years, and, at times, it really did seem like I might be hoping against hope that she'd get her shot at a full album.  Somehow, though, she broke through the modeling gigs and Tumblr iconography and managed to release a really solid debut album.  She's a grungy-voiced addition to the electro-pop landscape, and no one is more convincing complaining about neglect.

54. Neko Case / "Man"  The people tend to swoon whenever Neko Case makes an appearance, and that's a good thing.  Case has compared herself to many a thing or creature in the past, and this time?  She tells you a man, empties out the contents of the gender boxes, and makes you 100% buy into it.

55. Okkervil River / "Down Down the Deep River"  The right friend reading this may be surprised to find Okkervil River on this list. They're not a band I've taken much interest in before, for, as lyrically talented as they are, the sound isn't one that tends to grab me (and yes, I'm superficial like that).  While I realize the band is making moves towards a wider audience, I have to admit it may be working. It feels right. It just feels right.

56. Los Campesinos! / "Avocado, Baby" Ahem, "A heart of stone / rind so tough it's crazy / that's why they call me the avocado, baby."  Throw that over giddy, swelling instrumentals and add some cheerleading chants and you, my friend, have a rather infectious rock song.

57. Disclosure / "F For You"  Disclosure's second appearance on this list is massively simple, and that's not a bad thing. It's clean, pure, and capable of cuting through crowds of drunk, EDM douche-bags in a way that reminds you - momentarily- that they do sometimes have decent taste.

58. Ciara / "Body Party"  Sometimes the serious, lasting R&B songs sound a little too overt and silly when you break them down. You know what I mean: singing about "sexual healing," every Barry White song, and now, you know, Ciara claiming that your body is her party.  She's telling it like it is, I guess.

59. Mariah Carey ft. Miguel / "#Beautiful"  I was a Mariah fan in my middle school years, I'll admit, but I got a little sick of the whole package: the sound, the antics, the weird, Michael Jacksoning of her looks (seriously, guys, do you remember what she used to look like?).  So, I can't really believe I'm putting this on here...but...I am.  Miguel and Carey are a good team, and this fits neatly in with the ongoing R&B resurgence.

60. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds / "Higgs Boson Blues"  Remember a few songs back when I noted my superficiality with regard to Okkervil River?  Ok, so it may have been exaggerated. It's just that, see, the lyrics I gravitate towards are of the dark, often violent, Nick Cave variety. I'll take my rock poets with a side of Miley Cyrus fever dream and elementary particle crisis.


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