Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On Warmer Music's 30 Favorite Songs Of 2013 (30-21)

In the "it's not the number of times you fall down but the number of times you get up"-spirit, I'm deciding not to let my late-year slowdown stop me from my 2013 lists. I spent too much time listening to too much good music last year, despite it all and I'm gonna say something about it, goddamit!

I appreciate all those out there still listening and apologize for a lack of mp3s this year. I am including one for songs unavailable streaming or on YouTube but I found that there were so few downloads that few would probably miss them. Don't worry though, I'll still be posting mp3 mixes and other goodies, when appropriate. So, with no further adieu, here's some pretty good music!

30. Lake Michigan Wind - Jones Street Station  Download Perennials
Formerly a strictly-Brooklyn concern, Jones Street Station saw it's members scattered to the winds. They responded by choosing the oft-maligned LDR and write a song a day for a whole year strictly via online collaboration. The result ia Perennials, a charming collection of homespun folk songs and even includes a song written in Polish by Community's Danny Pudi! My favorite of the bunch was, unsurprisingly, a mournful Chicago-based number about loss and aging called "Lake Michigan Wind". It's a perfect companion for a mid-winter block of Chicago greyness.
29. Nothing Is Gold (Play/Download) - Bare Mutants  Buy The Affliction
Comprised of some of the cream of Chicago's fuzz rock scene, I've had my eye on the Bare Mutants for a few years now. They finally released their debut album, The Affliction, this year. Although I thought it laked some of the bite of their debut Hozac single, it did contain a gleeful little gem of VU-style Moe Tucker pop that I'd been hankering to hear on record for years now. "Nothing Is Gold" is just as cute, gleeful, pretty and pointless as I remember it and God bless that. Nothing wrong with a little "After Hours" knockoff every now and then.

28. Wendy 'N' Becky (feat. Chance The Rapper) - Joey Bada$$  Download
For the second summer in a row, we were stuck with "hits of the summer" so vapid or unpleasant that finding alternate-universe songs of the summer. With Acid Rap producing more than a few on its own, Chance also got some help from Thelonious Martin (and, to a lesser extent, Joey Bada$$) on this contender. Nothing says "summer" like throwback production and singing about girls (just ask the Beach Boys) and "Wendy N' Becky" boasts both of those elements in spades. Martin's lazy beat and sun-shiney horns provide the perfect backdrop a cruisin'-with-the-top-down favorite.
27. Uptown Boys - Netherfriends  Buy P3ACE
Speaking of would-be jams of the summer, how about the Netherfriends? After writing a song about every state, Shawn Rosenblatt's one-man band spent the latter part of last year complaining about drug testing on twitter and starting to promo his next project, P3ACE, which he plans on releasing March 3rd this year. But way back last summer he dropped the hazy "Uptown Boys" on the world, giving us yet another summer cruisin' song. His second leak "Joey Vision" is also pretty catchy, which all bodes well for March.
26. Lookin - The Dismemberment Plan  Buy Uncanny Valley
The Dismemberment Plan were one of those bands whose return from retirement was hard to gauge in terms of likelihood of success. Although their live show remains top-notch, their first reunited album, Uncanny Valley, was a mixed bag, in terms of quality. But, picking up right where Change left off, UV had more than enough wistful mid-tempo jams (what I call "Sunday Night Songs") to be savored, chief among them "Lookin". After four albums of sexual frustration, Travis Morrison seems to have finally found some romantic peace and "Lookin" showcases his new, more laid-back look at love. Hey, there's even a little nostalgia, in there! Although all their new avenues weren't necessarily successes, it's nice to see that Morrison and the Plan can play sweet and romantic sometimes.
25. The King - Tree  Download Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out
I first read about local MC Tree in the Reader last year after the release of his first mixtape, Sunday School. I appreciated his music but his unique "soul trap" sound still felt a little undercooked for my tastes, as did the jarring juxtaposition of lyrical elements from both of those two genres. His second mixtape, (fittingly titled Sunday School II) sees him finding his feet a bit more and figuring out exactly how to straddle the world of soul-sampling and the sound of Chicago's current streets. Easily the standout track, "The King" is one of Tree's more laidback affairs, half boast, half statement-of-purpose. Featuring a chirpy Elvis sample, it's the kind of delightful number you'll only find on mixtapes and makes you thank God for that particular tradition.
24. Come Walk With Me - M.I.A.  Buy Matangi
Remember 2008? After living with her amazing second album, Kala for over a year, M.I.A. was suddenly rocketed to pop royalty when "Paper Planes" got it's long-overdue recognition as an absolutely unbeatable single. It was hard to believe that a half-decade and one Lynn Hirschberg takedown later the woman so bubbling with energy ideas would have given us so little to get excited about. This year's Matangi is nothing on par with her first two explosive records but it's got enough bangers to at least wash the taste of /\/\/\Y/\ out of our mouths. "Come Walk With Me" isn't one of her neo-clash efforts but it has the fun-loving catchiness to sound like it could have been a pop hit... somewhere 

23. Dreaming of Giants - Radar Eyes  Download
OK, I've had a lot of summer songs here so far but I know that sometimes you want to avoid the sun with something dense and claustrophobic. Radar Eyes will sea you now. After releasing their excellent self-titled debut in 2012, the only thing they snuck out this past year was a single-song download on their bandcamp. Always happy to mix '60s melodies with their Ponys-esque wall-of-sound, on "Dreaming of Giants" feels like the essence of their garage psych condensed into three minutes.

22. Nightwater Girlfriend - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin  Buy Fly By Wire
After a brief-but-intense love affair with Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin at the beginning of college, I reconnected with them in a strong way this year after getting a chance to interview them about their latest albumFly By Wire. Upon listening, I immediately fell in love with them all over again, filled as it was with wistful guitar pop, charging pop-rock and sweet ballads all touched with that same lovely home studio production I so loved on Broom. It's a song that makes you want to go back in time, be seventeen again and find a way to fall in love over a magical summer with this playing in the background. "Nightwater Girlfriend" is the American teenage summer dream in song - there's weed, cars, skinny dipping and, of course, that girl of your dreams.
21. White Girls (Student of the Blues) - Diarrhea Planet  Buy I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
No, I still haven't seen Diarrhea Planet live, yet! Yes, shut up, I know I should, I'm working on it! Still, for sheer adolescent-level blasts of rock endorphins, their album I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams was still a solid substitute. "White Girs (Student of the Blues)" ain't much lyrically, just your average nerdy guy bitching about how girls only date jerks. But, as Rivers Cuomo taught us in the '90s, that exact sentiment plus ungodly loud, pseudo-metal chords and enough melody is all you need for a great song.

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