I had so much fun making last year’s list that I decided to do it again! These are, in no particular order, some of my favorite picks from 2013. Title links go to YouTube.
Gone Too Long – Churchill (The War Within EP)
The War Within is by far my favorite EP of the year, and choosing just one song from it was very hard. This song is catchy, emotive, slightly gritty, and completely addictive. Change, from the same EP, was a close runner-up (if nothing else, the music video is great).
The Habit – Lissie (Back to Forever)
Lissie is phenomenally talented, and if you ever get the opportunity to see her live you should take it. Other standouts on the album include Shameless and Further Away (Romane Police). If Back to Forever is a little too folk for you check out Morgan Page’s collaborations with Lissie (The Longest Road, several tracks on Believe). Or just check out one of her amazing covers – she’s well known for her Pursuit of Happiness cover, and she recently debuted an equally strong cover of Hold On, We’re Going Home.
Twenty Seven – MS MR (Secondhand Rapture)
I like to imagine that MS MR is what you would get if Florence and the Machine reincarnated as a slightly chiller, slightly more electronica artist. It’s dark, atmospheric music perfect for when you’re feeling slightly moody.
How – The Neighbourhood (I Love You.)
Sweater Weather is apparently the cool (i.e. charting) song from I Love You., but How is a strong track that does a great job setting the tone for the album. It’s one of my favorite rainy day albums, and I get a lot of mileage out of it here in Seattle.
Doubt – Kitten (Like a Stranger EP)
Watching Kitten mature across EPs is fascinating. Their latest offering shows a clear 80s influence, and feels significantly more electronica than their first EP. I wasn’t in love with Like a Stranger, but both the titular track and Doubt are worth a listen (and boy can Chloe Chaidez sing live).
Little Space – The Limousines (Hush)
The Limousines round out my “moody indie music” kick this year. Hush is a little edgier than my usual fare, and the album art weirds me out a bit (although not nearly as much as Get Sharp), but it’s definitely worth a listen.
Broken Bones – CHVRCHES (The Bones of What You Believe)
The Bones of What You Believe is unquestionably the best album I’ve heard all year. Broken Bones is a bonus track, so maybe it doesn’t count, but it’s also fantastic. The lyrics are creepy and sinister enough that I mentally consider it part of the Hunger Games soundtrack.
Human – Krewella (Get Wet)
Krewella might be everything I always wanted Ke$ha to be, with a little extra wubwubwub (to use the technical term). Human departs from the party-it-up mentality of the rest of Get Wet and goes for something slightly more substantial. As an added bonus, they actually can sing, as proven by their stripped down acoustic performance of Alive.
Hold On – Icona Pop (THIS IS… ICONA POP)
Icona Pop embody cheerful summer music, and it’s a bummer that they had to bow out of Bumbershoot this year. The entire album is fun and upbeat, and Hold On stands out for its marginally more serious tone.
Brave – Sara Bareilles (The Blessed Unrest)
Inspired by a friend’s struggle to come out of the closet, Brave is an enthusiastic, inspiring anthem whose message can be applied to an awful lot of life’s challenges. Every time you’re having trouble speaking up just play this track and pretend that Sara Bareilles is your own personal cheering squad.
But what about Lorde?
I know, I know. How could I make a top songs of 2013 list without including Lorde?
I didn’t like Pure Heroine nearly as much as her Love Club EP (which includes Royals), but she posted that to her SoundCloud in late 2012. So all of my top picks for her (Royals, Bravado, Million Dollar Bills) don’t actually qualify.
Now you know.