As we say farewell to yet another superb year in music, the only action left for us to perform here is to unleash our favourite 100 tracks of 2013. Unabashedly catchy, yet exuding depth, it's a great collection to either dive into personally or whack on for a party to remember. More skewed towards independent pop and electronic music than in previous years, there's still enough here to whet all appetites unless you're a exclusively hip hop, rap or metal aficionado, which we're clearly not.
Thanks to all the independent artists we've featured on the site this year and a special thanks to those who have got in touch via e-mail or social media. We can't feature it all but appreciate your endeavours nontheless. Without you, we are nothing.
Thanks to all our regular and random visitors. The fact that you get something out of our endeavours spurs us on to keep doing this. Have a great holiday break and see you all again next February.
The 100 is divided into ten sections of ten tracks from 100 to 91 and so on right down to 10 to 1.
You'll find every single track in ascending order counting down in our Top 100 Player beginning from number 100. Use the players scroller to start from any number.
CLICK HERE FOR THE COUNTDOWN LIST IN FULL
To get you started here's the top five with accompanying short notes.
5. Wakin' On A Pretty Day
Kurt Vile (USA)
From the album, 'Wakin' On A Pretty Daze', Matador.
This nine minute and a half minute gem from the king of effortlessness amazes in its ability to take you somewhere and nowhere simultaneously. Resting on the same beat and luscious chord structure throughout, Vile's ability to build intense, yet laconic interest around them is one of the hardest things to do as a songwriter and he does it with ease.
'Mute' trumped this track in most end of year lists but for us 'Dropla' is the better and more interesting of the two. Both stupendous bookends in Trevor Powers weird storytelling world that is 'Wonderous Bughouse, 'Dropla's' dominant bass and circular rhythms drive the track forward to its strangely triumphant conclusion.
2013 was a breakout year for the very talented Brooklyn artist Arthur Ashin. There's no doubt that 'Play By Play' is one of the most emotionally intense and compositionally confounding pieces of R&B/electronica you've heard for some time. Not adhering to any traditional structure, the school of unique Brooklyn styled electronic music is well and truly in. Teengirl Fantasy, Blondes, Oneohtrix Point Never and of course Ford & Lopatin come to mind. But Ashin's voice and stylings steal the show.
From the album, 'Skyer', Hybris/Best Fit Recordings.
Lampooned by the lazy and ignorant for supposedly aping M83, this track is a piece of dream pop heaven. Big drums, whispered vocals, celestial synths, moments of reflection and a kick arse sax solo as an outro. What more could a lover of pure pop want.
One of the best tracks of recent years not just this one. The promise that surrounded Merseyside producer Matthew Barnes when he quietly appeared in 2010 with the Dagger Paths EP has come to its fullest possible fruition on the brilliant debut album Engravings and this track, the closer, is the most perfect enscapsulation of that. A military styled cyclical beat, oscillating radio frequencies, a noodling bass line, gliding retro string sounds and rapturous vocal chants make this not only one of the most interesting electronic tracks for some time but also one of the most grand and original.
Familiarity breeds contempt they say. Well, if that's the case we're pretty happy about our contemptiousness when it comes to our end of year top albums list for 2013. Many artists are making their second and even third or more appearance in the list of top albums over Indie30's first five years. Luminaries such as Bill Callahan, The National, Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, The Flaming Lips, Phosphorescent, Deerhunter, Kurt Vile, The Field, Fuck Buttons and Yo La Tengo again feature in a stellar year for class artists doing what they do best - producing vital music.
It was year where we saw Savages unleash their ferocious brilliance, Devonte Hynes finally release the album he's been capable of and Blondes take a giant step forward in the pantheon of electronic music. It also features excellent debuts from Disclosure, Autre Ne Veut, Ejecta, Indians, Forest Swords, Mood Rings Diana, Doldrums and Chvrches while Youth Lagoon, James Blake, Agnes Obel and Dirty Beaches avoid the dreaded second album syndrome by producing arguably better efforts than their debuts. Daft Punk make an obligatory appearance on the back of the their impressive long awaited return while My Bloody Valentine, even more inactive, finally produced their third album some twenty years in the making.
But pride and place this year goes to arguably a difficult record, The Knife's Shaking The Habitual, a giant of an album that equally thrills and repells. One gets the impression that it's exactly how Karin and Olof Dreijer would have wanted it received. It's a work of withering social criticism and political commentary on the sad state of the world where meaning is sucked dry by vacuous capitalist accumulation and hope is crushed by systemic economic and gender inequality. This is not to say that Shaking The Habitual gets the gong for its subject matter alone. The Dreijer siblings fuse this subject matter to music seamlessly as the metaphorical and real mental and physical injuries caused by the world elite is perfectly captured by the abrasive nature of the compositions. An intensely vital record.
The countdown appears in three sections from 30 up to number one.
Kelela (USA) - Cut 4 Me
Cuushe (JAP) - Butterfly Case
Keep Shelly In Athens (GRE) - At Home
Cass McCombs (USA) - Big Wheel & Others
Camera Obscura (SCO) - Desire Lines
Sally Shapiro (SWE) - Somewhere Else
Beach Fossils (USA) - Clash The Truth
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (AUS) - Push The Sky Away
Au Revoir Simone (USA) - Move In Spectrums
Washed Out (USA) - Paracosm
M+A (ITA) - These Days
Postiljonen (SWE) - Skyer
Baths (USA) - Obsidian
Ducktails (USA) - The Flower Lane
Superstar (AUS) - A Toast To…
Olof Arnalds (ICE) - Sudden Elevation
Sapphire Slows (JAP) - Allegoria
Classixx (USA) - Hanging Gardens
Blue Hawaii (CAN) - Untogether
Pinkunoizu (DEN) - The Drop
Below is our first installment of our three end of year lists, our favourite ten videos of 2013. It's an eclectic assortment that essentially captures where the world is now, and that is, at the crossroads. The absurdities of modern life - a rapacious inequality of opportunity and spoils, unconcious conformity, rampant accumulation for no real benefit, corporate domination and the destruction of democracy and the environment, discrimination and exclusion of difference, enveloping all encompassing debilitating love in a selfish world, the list goes on. Despite this, the Ryan Baxley and Scott Jacobsen videos manage to lift us by splashing, literally in the former, doses of wry humour into the mix.
1. Shut Up
From the album, 'Silence Yourself', Matador.
Directed by Giorgio Testi
The Giorgio Testi directed live take on 'Shut Up' by the English post punk quartet Savages is one the best of recent times and captures the energies of the band and the necessities of the track's subject matter perfectly. A fitting best video.
2. Full Of Fire
The Knife (SWE)
From the album, 'Shaking Ther Habitual', Rabid Records.
Directed by Marit Ostberg
Marit Ostberg's complex short film utilising The Knife's 'Full Of Fire' is as relentless in its withering critique of the narrowness of mainstream culture as the track itself is in its sonic form.
From the album, 'FIDLAR', Witchita.
Directed by Ryan Baxley
Los Angeles punk rock outfit FIDLAR's Ryan Baxley directed video for 'Cocaine' unleashes the mass frustration caused by being forced to participate in the insecure and poorly paid U.S labour market and literally pisses all over the unfairness and uncertainities that it produces.
Arcade Fire (CAN)
From the album, 'Reflektor', Merge.
Directed by Emily Kai Bock
Emily Kai-Bock, the Canadian director seems to be a perennial fixture in best video lists every year. This poignant dream laden epic for Arcade Fire is yet another example of her ability to beautifully encapsulate an array of subject matters, in this case, loss.
5. First Fires (feat. Grey Reverend)
From the album, 'The North Borders', Ninja Tune.
Directed by Young Replicant
Alex Takacs (Young Replicant) takes Bonobo's track from earlier this year, 'First Fires' and captures the essence of illusions cast as memories when love is lost.
From the album, 'I Hate You', Merge
Directed by Scott Jacobsen
For those of us who are the other side of 40 and that includes the legendary Superchunk, this comedic representation on old guys going to a show amidst the hipsters starring drummer Jon Wurster and comedians Jon Glaser and Jon Benjamin makes you want to laugh and cry simultaneously.
James Blake (ENG)
From the album, 'Overgrown', Polydor/Universal Republic.
Directed by Nabil Elderkin
Whenever I watch this beautifully shot Nabil Elderkin effort for James Blake, I always think of those hooded figures as the stealth like figures of musical death, as in the corporate executives at Blake's insidious record label. I always like that they fritter away when the reach him on the shore. One can only hope.
8. Casino Lisboa
Dirty Beaches (USA)
From the album, 'Drifters/Love Is The Devil', Zoo Music.
Directed by Gary Boyle
This swirling, kaleidoscopic Gary Boyle shot video for Alex Hungtai's Dirty Beaches project combines the seedy vibrancy of Bangkok's nightlife with searing live performance of the hypnotic 'Casino Lisboa' in the Thai capital.
9. Thor's Stone
Forest Swords (ENG
From the album, 'Engravings', Tri-Angle
Directed by Dave Ma
There's something very earthy and yet otherworld like in the music of Forest Swords, the project of Liverpool producer Matthew Barnes. Dave Ma expertly represents both in the sinew and bone of his felled muse.
10. When A Fire Starts To Burn
From the album, 'Settle', PMR.
Directed by Bo Mirossini
Gullibility and faith. Perfect accompaniments. Bo Mirossini takes the lyrics sampled in the track by the English house duo to a whole new level.
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