Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Soundtrack

I do this every year. These songs are what I loved this year, or what reminds me of this year, and are arranged in my preferred listening order. The playlist fits on an 80-minute CD.

Download the zipped folder here. If the songs get lost in your media library, just search for the ones with the genre labeled "Dan2013".

As I was putting this together, I grew concerned that my station in life had led to a rather predictable playlist. I felt like I discovered fewer new artists this year than previous years, and I was simply listening to new albums from bands I already liked. (It would help if I was able to access music streams other than from work.) While that’s certainly accurate, it hasn’t impacted this year’s year-end soundtrack too terribly. Less than half are songs from bands that appeared in previous years! But, uh, more than half are from bands that have either appeared in previous years or peaked in the ‘90s and no longer exist.

INXS - “Disappear”

Yes, 2013 was the year of INXS for all of us, was it not? No? Okay, how about I saw their greatest hits album for $5 and I grabbed it? And I heard “Disappear” for the first time since, well, maybe since it was regularly played on the radio? If you’re listening on bad speakers, you may hear a clicking sound during the chorus, so get some good headphones and turn it up.

Chromatics - “Kill for Love”

I don’t know how I came upon this song, some music blog I guess, but repeated listenings confirm it’s good.

Chvrches - “Gun”

Originally, the Chvrches selection was “Now is not the Time” from their EP, then it was “Lungs” from their album. I probably overplayed “Lungs” in my car, leading to a lot of “By the Throat” and “Gun”. What I’m trying to say is, this album is fantastic.

Caveman - “In the City”

Another music blog discovery, this rounds out the 2013 soundtrack’s synth suite.

Alpine - “In the Wild”

I was excited for the album from these Aussies after hearing this lead single, but it was a little heavy on the dream and a little light on the pop. Check out “Villages” and “Hands” if you like this track.

Third Eye Blind - “Narcolepsy”

So, we drove to Cincinnati in August. In ye olde blog times, that trip would have been documented in a lengthy writeup. You would have heard all about the benefits of Missouri’s lax open container laws to road trips, and how Terre Haute’s highest-rated attractions read very unimpressively on Yelp, and how delicious our lunch was in Bloomington. And while we drove through Indiana, yes, of course we listened to John Mellencamp’s greatest hits. We’re no fools. But through another stretch of the Hoosier state, Gavin played Third Eye Blind’s debut album from front to back, and I sang along with Stephen Jenkins the whole damn time. “It would be funny to have a band and perform this entire album to an unsuspecting bar. They’d start out thinking ‘Oh neat, a Third Eye Blind song,’ and then eventually realize that we were playing the whole album in order,” Gavin mused. “If we’re opening with ‘Losing a Whole Year’ and transitioning directly to ‘Narcolepsy,’ I think they’d catch on pretty quick,” I said.

Lorde - “Royals”

Shawn paid a dollar or whatever to hear this at the final bar we visited in Cincinnati on Friday night, though he was wrestling with his disbelief that a New Zealand teen recorded a song he liked this much. At least, I think he played this song, it’s a little hazy. I remember (but do not really remember) having a good conversation about Nirvana with our host at that bar.

Blackstreet - “No Diggity”

The other day, I was listening to the lyrics to “Royals”, and I guess it’s about, like, whatever dude, you can have your diamonds and gold chains, all you rappers, and we don’t care, because we’re really real. And then I listened to Death Row’s Greatest Hits, and it sounded awesome, and I was like, diamonds and gold chains and blood stains are the coolest. SING THAT SHIT, DRE! For reasons unknown, probably some divine intervention or some music blog post, “No Diggity” was on heavy rotation in the latter half of my year. It holds up even more than Third Eye Blind, if that’s even possible. So it made the soundtrack instead of “Ain’t No Fun” or “No Vaseline”, which is good because it will keep that Parental Advisory sticker off the front cover.

Haim - “The Wire”

I am not the first person to say this, but it really does sound like Shania Twain covering The Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight”. When they played on SNL, the staccato lyric delivery prompted my wife to ask if they were singing in English.

Dr. Dog - “These Days”

We probably don’t need any more songs titled “These Days”, but that’s my only complaint. I also enjoyed “That Old Black Hole” from the same album.

Franz Ferdinand - “Evil Eye”

This concert was everything that I wanted it to be: extremely high energy, crowd shout-alongs, extended jams and alternate versions of their hits, and the opening yell from “Evil Eye” was delivered rambunctiously by the neck-tattooed drummer. Frankly, the fact that it took Scottish band this long to write a song where “Ya Bastard!” was exclaimed repeatedly is a dark mark on their legacy.

Icona Pop - “I Love It”

The benefits of listening to Top 40 radio every now and then in the carpool: I can now identify a Drake song with 13% accuracy (up from zero percent), and, for one sweet week during its peak popularity, hearing “I Love It” twice a day.

Phoenix - “Entertainment”

That little percussion that accompanies the opening notes! The crowd of “OH”s in the middle! All the unintelligible words? Everything else?

Frightened Rabbit - “The Oil Slick”

I usually don’t like it when a singer sings about writing a song, but these lyrics good enough to overcome that bias. The way this album (and the Neko Case album, and the Okkervil River album) is mixed or mastered or whatever makes it sound hollow to me, like the mid-level sounds aren’t coming through, and I don’t know the technical term for what’s happening, and I wish I did.

Neko Case - “Calling Cards”

The Pitch called the Liberty Hall crowd that attended the Neko Case show in October “reverent”, which is quite accurate. The ambient noise was nice and quiet during “Calling Cards”, which made the song as affecting as listening on headphones in your dark bedroom. If you’re like me, you live through moments that feel so nice that you close your eyes and literally breathe it in. I did that during “Calling Cards”, and it made a lot more sense then compared to when I did it at the visually stunning foreign locations of Iguazu Falls and the Cliffs of Moher.

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - “We the Common”

I loved this song off of her new album, and I super loved her version of INXS’ “Need You Tonight” performed for the A.V. Club

The Vaccines - “I Always Knew”

This seems like a song that Alipete should be telling ME about, but I had to discover it myself. I only heard about it because someone on the internet was like, “I’m glad they used this on the New Girl season finale.”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - “Despair”

Watching this song’s music video made me like it more, much like watching YYY’s performance of “Sacrilege” on Letterman made me want to buy the album in the first place. If my daughter grows up to be the next Karen O (Karen 2.O?) I will be proud. Of myself.

Vampire Weekend - “Ya Hey”

I have already professed my love for Ya Hey earlier this year.If you’re wondering what my coworker/longrunning carpool partner thinks of it, she likes the Paul Simony songs on the album better. And she told her hip, young adult daughter that she was digging the “Weekend Vampires” record.

Okkervil River - “Lido Pier Suicide Car”

I much prefer the second half of this song to the first, but if the first half was shorter or otherwise different, maybe the whole thing would turn to shit? I also wish that I comprehended any of the lyrics on this album.


Alison said...

I also discovered fewer new artists this year, and am bummed about that. Though I blame myself; I was pretty lazy about seeking out new music. I think my January will be spent catching up on everything I'm "discovering" on all these best-of lists. How did I COMPLETELY miss Haim?

Corinne said...

I played "The Wire" on repeat in my car for all of November, and I may have ruined it for myself. Also, that Neko show was reverent and, again, I am surprised it didn't make complete strangers turn to each other and start making out.

Gav said...

I didn't hear of Haim until recently either! This needs to be remedied. Let's join forces in 2014! Does AOL still have chatrooms for us to use?? - (But please, no Neko!)

Mrs. Neises said...

Katie D. and I's theory for 'No Diggity' joining your rotation is all my viewings of Pitch Perfect (with the lovely/hot Anna Kendrick rapping) planted the song into your subconscience. Therefore, I take partial credit for this song being on this list.