10. Deerhunter “The Missing”
Coming off of an album that sometimes feels loud and busy, “The Missing” comes across as a moment of truly inspiring clarity. Rarely has Bradford Cox sounded more natural, more calm, and more disinterested in impressing.
09. Pixies “Bagboy”
“Bagboy” is the Pixies first new single in 9 years but it is not on the list because of the historical significance; it is actually a great song. The track shows the Pixies keeping up with the times while not losing what inherently made them the Pixies. The track features some electronic drum work, dueling male/female vocals, screaming, and strong lead guitar. What more could you want from the Pixies in 2013?
08. The National “Sea of Love”
No one ever has fun listening to The National, unless your mind is on some truly strange psychological terrain. “Sea of Love” may be the closest the band will get to something approaching “fun.” On this track the band doesn’t withhold a thing, bursting through with emotion and intensity from the first note, ultimately making for one of the prolific band’s most satisfying efforts to date.
07. Daft Punk “Doin’ It Right”
While “Doin’ It Right” might not uphold the image of Daft Punk making relentless French house tracks, it does show what happens when the mysterious duo creates intelligent dance ballads. Panda Bear‘s soaring vocals just help to take the track to another stratosphere.
06. Disclosure “White Noise”
Standing out on Disclosure’s triumphant debut full length, “White Noise” skirts the strange line between “fun” and “intense,” making for one of the most hypnotic, abrasive musical experiences of the year. Once the track descends into its stunningly chaotic final minute, you can dance with the comforting thought that Disclosure have many more years of producing dance music ahead of them.
05. Smith Westerns “3am Spiritual”
Although Smith Westerns appear to be wrestling with their stylistic direction somewhat on Soft Will (as any young band should and will do), “3AM Spiritual” seems like the perfect distillation of the band’s competing influences. The song flits effortlessly between moments of slacker ennui to moments of gorgeous, mature artistry without ever feeling ridiculous or insincere.
04. Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines”
It’s hard to think of another track taking summer jam status over Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines.” From the nudity-filled music video to the faux-reggae production from Pharrell, the track is just a feel-good jaunt made for summer supremacy.
03. Vampire Weekend “Unbelievers”
When Vampire Weekend played Saturday Night Live, they did not stick to playing the two songs that were released ahead of Modern Vampires of the City–instead they debuted “Unbelievers.” The shuffling beat and vintage organ helps build the song into its triumphant horn-filled crescendo in yet another unique offering from the band. When the album was released it became apparent why they chose to play “Unbelievers,” it is the best song from what is surely one of the standout albums of the year.
02. Kanye West “Bound 2”
Amongst an album of harsh electronic tracks, Kanye finishes Yeezus is the soul-sample-filled “Bound 2.” Although the track is notable for explicit it is about he and Kim’s relationship, what really stands out is the production. With almost no drum programming, Kanye raps over a looped soul-sample with small interruptions from a Charlie Wilson sung chorus. It creates a track that is slightly avant but at the same time definitively Kanye.
01. Daft Punk “Get Lucky”
The release of Daft Punk‘s first single from Random Access Memories was an international event. Internet users everywhere seemed to take notice. Perhaps it was the yacht rock-esque disco pathos of the tune or Pharrell‘s sultry vocals or Nile Rodger’s funky guitar or just the fact that Daft Punk was finally releasing new music, but the track was worth every listen and download it received.